Inside: An honest review of the KonMari Method [updated 2021]; a full Konmari blog series explaining konmari folding methods, decluttering with konmari and a declutter checklist
Does the Konmari Method Work? My Honest Review and Declutter Checklist
Konmari and the art of tidying up is all the rage right now because of the new Netflix special called Tidying Up. And now, as of summer 2021, famous decluttering guru Marie Kondo has a new Netflix show debuting as well about the art of Sparking Joy.
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We have been on the Konmari organizing and decluttering journey for seven years now. In fact, we have dedicated a large portion of this blog to Konmari and unpacking how it’s helped us clear away the clutter and organize our lives at a deep level.
We followed the instructions in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to a tee and in fact, we followed them so closely that I ended up gifting the book to someone else – just as Kondo professes we do. You can see some of our other posts about Konmari and Marie Kondo such as:
- Decluttering the garage with KonMari (updated for 2021)
- Organizing the kitchen with KonMari (updated for 2021)
- Sorting belts and scarves with Konmari (updated for 2021)
So while what seems like half the Internet is falling in love with this Japanese art of decluttering and folding, I’m seven years beyond that initial honeymoon phase and figured I could give you an honest opinion about what happens after you Konmari your Life and if the Konmari Method really does work.
First of all what is the KonMari Method?
If you’ve been reading this post, I’m guessing you’ve seen something about the Konmari Method. It’s what Marie Kondo got famous for after coining it and the idea was simply her take on a better way to organize things and get rid of the unnecessary clutter in your life.
Supporters of this topic initially were drawn to the unconventional rules she creates for deciding if something is worth keeping. She asks you to talk to your items to see if they ‘spark joy’ in your heart. If they do, you keep them. If they do not, then you get rid of them.
The craze spawned massive drop offs at donation centres across North America.
But now, years later, what most have found is that the Konmari craze led to an increase in interest in the minimalist movement, the tiny home movement and, in general, a niche of people who are no longer interested in mindless consumption.
Step One on the Konmari Journey
Here’s the misconception – Konmari doesn’t necessarily profess minimalism, but somehow the two have become conflated. The end result of the Marie Kondo method is to toss or donate a significant portion of your belongings.
In fact, that definitely happened to us.
What Kondo does differently from other tidying experts is she creates a clear and direct correlation between what we own and how we FEEL. She shows us how some objects spark joy either by bringing up good memories, serving a distinct purpose in the way of shelter, warmth or food or by sparking creativity and harmony.
The life changing aspect of the Kondo Method is that most people realize they have surrounded themselves with empty things that do none of the above and therefore they throw everything away.
The Konmari Order of Things
If you read the book (or if you don’t, you can just read my Konmari blog series!), you will quickly pick up on the fact that Marie Kondo separates and orders decluttering in a way that is logical and easy to follow. I think this is why so many people love the method.
It’s personally why I love it, because it’s easy to answer the question ‘where do I start’? when you are faced with a giant mess or a closet that is totally cluttered and disorganized.
Start your Organizing and Decluttering Journey on the right foot!
The order you are supposed to tackled your decluttering is:
What will really happen when you tackle your organizing this way? (Well, this happened for us)… You might get stuck. We got stuck and stalled with decluttering and sorting somewhere between paper and miscellany. It takes a lot of fortitude to complete this Konmari method all in one go.
This is why I now tell people that your Konmari journey will likely take YEARS to complete and it’s also why I developed my free download called Mindful Decluttering. Because I feel like Kondo explains her methods well in her book, but doesn’t really offer the mindful support to get through the tough tasks.
Using Konmari to Organize your Clothes and your Closet
Now that you know the categories to tackle first, you’ll want to use the Konmari Method to start making a dent in your clutter and the recommended place to start is your closet.
This was our closet before we did Konmari. I know.
Steps to declutter the closet with Konmari
We took this step by step (and yes, it’s taken years for the closet to transform). Here’s what we did.
- Empty the closet entirely. We used the floor and the bed.
- Categorize clothes by weight and season.
- As you do that, hold every single item to see if it ‘sparks joy’.
Note: Sparks joy – that will be a different feeling for everyone. I’m not going to tell you what to feel. BUT, if something is damaged or broken beyond repair, then toss it. If something doesn’t fit or brings up negative body image issues, then donate it. This is what I get into in my Mindful Decluttering eBook and Worksheets. It’s important to be able to recognize the feelings that you’re having as NOT joy if you aren’t able to identify what JOY actually is.
4. Donate or toss the items that do NOT give you joy.
5. Replace the remaining items in the closet with focus on the Konmari Folding Methods and hanging up as many clothes as you can.
Honest opinion of the Konmari Folding Method
Part of the allure of the Marie Kondo method is how she folds things into tiny little squares and places them in a drawer or on a shelf.
We did this (as you can see below) with our kitchen towels and dish cloths. We also tested:
- The Konmari method of folding socks
- The Konmari method of folding underwear
- The Konmari method of folding pants
- The Konmari method of folding belts and scarves
And here’s the TRUTH about this method of folding your clothes and belongings – it works. It’s fun for a while. But I do not know a single person who has sustained this part of the Konmari method.
Ourselves included. It worked and kept our drawers perfectly aligned for about a month.
What we learned from trying the Konmari Folding Method
What I did learn is that I love the hang things up when I can. If I can avoid having to fold something, I do. So now, we use the Konmari principles for decluttering, sorting and donating items (especially clothing) – but I do my best to hang everything.
The only things I fold now are pants and jeans, bulky sweaters and sweatsuits.
The Long Lasting Benefits of KonMari
I’m going to start with the positive benefits first because they far outweigh the negative. The first major benefit is that yes – you do get rid of a crap ton of stuff and your house feels amazing.
The secondary benefit to that is 100% in how you feel about your space, but also in how easy it is to clean. In fact, I totally credit our KonMari journey with sparking in me a joy for cleaning our house. We have a lot less stuff that clutters up the main living areas, so when I do clean, I’m able to do a good job and get it done rather quickly.
The third benefit is that if you follow this through for even a few months, you will save money. I’m so deliberate when I shop now, even to this day. I won’t purchase clothing that I don’t 100% love, I won’t spend money on home decor that doesn’t translate beyond one season, I won’t spend money on shoes that only go with one outfit and so on.
I also have started to only buy new things when old things literally fall apart. I know that doesn’t make for the most Insta-trendy home or whatever, but that is KonMari in action. We wait until something has given us all the JOY it can give and then we release it and replace it.
A good example was our old living room rug. It was starting to get holes in the corners and we knew we’d used it beyond its proper utility. So we kissed it goodbye and replaced it with one that we both love.
Another smaller example is how I use office supplies now. That was a HUGE stumbling block for me along the KonMari path and I wasn’t even self-employed when we did it. I now use every page in every notebook I have before buying a new one. I had too many notebooks and for whatever reason, I was emotional about them. Now, I use them to their fullest and then release them. My office thanks me and it’s easier to stay organized.
The Long Term Drawbacks of the KonMari Method
Ah, so here’s more honesty. The long term drawbacks are hard to see until you are pretty far removed from doing the Method. And I will preface all of this to say that these drawbacks only really apply if you have followed the prescribed KonMari Method to a tee to begin with.
If you are simply decluttering based on watching the show on Netflix or on reading blogs or based on what you see everyone else doing on Instagram, these won’t apply to you, I don’t think.
The first major drawback is that you 100% will fall off the wagon. Things will start to pile up again, but not the way they used to. For us, it’s definitely paper work, my DIY studio space (pictured in that horrific photo below lol) and clothing. Those are the three areas that we seem to struggle with the most. I think the clothing thing is in part because it’s time consuming to purge it all and because we have so much weather where we live, it’s easy to justify the utility of almost every type of clothing.
The second major drawback is that at some level, it will create guilt and anxiety around ‘things’. If you are at all prone to feeling anxious about money, finances or wasting resources (and I feel most people are), KonMari will heighten those feelings. Since our KonMari Journey, we have paid down six-figures of debt and are living almost 100% debt-free, which is phenomenal, but I still have a lot of guilt associated with buying things I can’t immediately justify.
And that’s not always a good thing. For example, I think we’ve gone too far to one side in the ‘we don’t buy each other gifts’ category. I don’t splurge on self-care EVER because in my mind, the KonMari Method says that joy associated with something like a pedicure or a facial, for example, is fleeting and therefore not worth the emotional investment.
I know that’s not necessarily true and that is why I caution those who take the method seriously to not let it impact decision making on a level deeper than the literal things you have in your home.
Will KonMari Change your Life?
The book makes big sweeping claims about people who do the KonMari method and divorce their spouses, quit their jobs and sell their homes and move to the beach… but I don’t think it’s healthy or wise to tie anything of that emotional magnitude to a method created by someone who’s just really good at folding clothes.
If you let it, it will change your life. But isn’t that the case with any new habit? Our home is infinitely more liveable than it once was. I have the benefit of looking back at pre-KonMari blog posts and laughing at all the STUFF we owned that I don’t even remember owning. It makes me laugh and smile.
Is the KonMari method worth it?
Yes. It is definitely worth it. But my suggestion is to do it over the course of a year or more. If you try to do it all at once, it won’t feel like you’ve made much progress.
What is the KonMari checklist?
The Konmari checklist is part of Marie Kondo’s book. It helps you go through the Konmari method step by step. A lot of blogs have created their own version of the checklist.
I created my Mindful Decluttering bundle for this very reason.
How long does it take to do Konmari?
This depends on the size of your home and how much stuff you own!
For our three bedroom home, it took us about two months to do the first Konmari declutter. Then it took us another three years to get through absolutely everything in the way that made sense.