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The Magic of the KonMari Method

An RL reader takes on the challenge of the KonMari method, in hopes that it will work its magic on her

Photography: Here and Now Site (Book Cover) and Dairy Darilag (Main Photo)

Marie Kondo, the author of the New York Times Best Seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, confidently points out that once you apply the KonMari Method, your life will change.

When the book was introduced to me by my former officemate, I had to have a copy of my own. It tackled two things that I love: organizing and self-improvement. After a few months of being sold out in my usual haunts, it finally appeared and I grabbed it off the shelf. I finished the book in three days!

(*Ed's note: This story is a first in a ten-part series of articles on the KonMari Method)

She starts off the book by giving her background (In a nutshell: She’s been obsessed with tidying since she was 15 and has not stopped ever since), and debunks a couple of tidying “rules” that I’ve come across throughout the years, and have followed myself. The biggest rules she mentioned were: 

  1. Throw out what you haven’t used for a year
  2. It’s about having a lot of storage space
  3. Tidy up a little bit every day
  4. Tidy up per room

She goes on to say that these methods don’t work, because you go into tidying up half-heartedly, and if you do these, you’ll be tidying up for the rest of your life. The thought of tidying up for the rest of my life horrified me—who has the time or energy for that?

Photo from Here and Now.

Her method, aptly called the “KonMari” method (a combination of her first and last names), sounds simple enough. She says that it’s “a guide to acquiring the right mindset for creating order and becoming a tidy person.” Marie says that anyone can do it, but it mostly depends if the person is ready to change his or her mindset about tidying. She goes on to state the following tips on how to do the method:

Tidy up in one shot

Take advantage of the excitement, or the momentum you get from tidying up. It also sets up tidying as a “special event, not a chore.”

Photo by Paolo Feliciano.

Sort by category, not location

The method entails that you gather all like items in one place by scouring your entire space. For example, you scour your entire home for books. Once you’re done discarding and organizing your books, you’ll have to automatically throw out any more books you come across.

Kondo’s logic to this is that you have to see for yourself how much stuff you have (imagine piles of clothes that are as tall as you are!), and how much of the same stuff you have (like 30 ballpens, or five black jackets, or three copies of the same book).

Aim for perfection

While this sounds awfully intimidating, Kondo does have a point. When you don’t aim for perfection in what you’re doing, you tend to do things half-heartedly. It’s about pushing yourself to doing things with everything you’ve got, rather than settling for the bare minimum.  

Photo by Louie Aguinaldo.

Picture a clutter-free space

What’s your end goal? Is it to see the floor of your room? Find what you need in 10 seconds? Whatever it is, picturing a clutter-free space will give anyone a sense of calm, and that feeling is something anyone would want. This is your end goal.

Ask yourself: Does this spark joy?

When you start tidying up, for every piece you hold in your hand, take a moment to ask, “Does this spark joy?” This question is applicable to everything, from that ratty, pambahay shirt you’ve had since high school, to kitchen appliances. You’ll have to touch each item you own and ask this question in order to know if you’ll keep or discard it. She suggests a certain order to follow when discarding things, to exercise and strengthen your decision-making skills. 

Photo by Toto Labrador.

Beyond these tips, Kondo gave the biggest promise that no other book or article I’ve read about organization has promised, and she says so with confidence: Using her method will change your life forever.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m ready for my life to be changed. And I didn’t know how to go about tidying up anymore. It was easier when I had a 30sqm apartment for myself, with a lot of time and energy to tidy up. But now that I live in a 67sqm apartment with my toddler and parents, we had a lot of shared storage spaces, and I didn’t have the same time and energy as I did when I wasn’t a mommy yet. But Kondo’s confidence has made me curious if it will indeed change my life. And if it doesn’t, what harm can it do to have a space that makes me feel calm and happy?

Photo by Toto Labrador.

Up next on the KonMari series: Letting Go with Joy.

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