The KonMari method: what you need to know

Japanese author Marie Kondo's ruthless decluttering and organisation system (keep what 'sparks joy', chuck the rest, and assign a home for everything that's left) is THE way to get your house in order in 2016. Here's what Mumsnetters took from her book

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1. The method is more epic clearout than mess management

According to Kondo, little-by-little tidying is a false economy. Instead, you should think in terms of a whole-house purge (spread out over as long as you need); that way, you'll lose more of the excess and set yourself up for a neater life day-to-day.

What Mumsnetters say:

"When the sheer quantity of stuff is there in front of me, it's clear that I can't possibly need all of it, which is a powerful motivator."

"My favourite bit is when she admits that she is actually very lazy and disorganised and that's why she has to have everything so precise."

2. Think in terms of categories, not rooms

Instead of thinking "bedroom, kitchen, living room...", Kondo recommends sorting through your stuff by category, so you don't get distracted. If you're tackling clothes first, for example, you should find and deal with every single clothing item in the house before moving on to books or paperwork.

What Mumsnetters say:

"Doing a room at a time is OK for simple tidying - but going through categories insists on organisation and focus, which should solve the clutter problem, once and for all."

"I started off with 260 items of clothes (bags, shoes, coats, everything). I went through one sub-category at a time, and ended up with 123! For the first time I realised that I actually have a really nice, grown-up set of clothes!"

3. KonMari fever doesn't discriminate

The urge to organise can sweep across generation and gender - even where you least expect it.

What Mumsnetters say:

"My husband got inspired and is halfway through sorting his study. About 15 bags are off to the charity shop. I can see how much more pleasant the house is going to be once we're done."

"My 12-year-old son got the whole KonMari thing straight away. He Kondo'd his whole bedroom in about 40 minutes! My daughter is seven and kind of gets it; however, everything seems to bring her joy."

4. For an easy win, cut the komono 

That's KonMari speak for 'random bits of crap'. You know, all the pointless, often unidentifiable stuff gathering dust in that drawer (or cupboard). (Or room.)

What Mumsnetters say:

"Try collecting things in separate boxes, until the whole of each komono sub-category is all together, for sorting. Unless you know what to get rid of straight away."

5. The whole sparks-joy thing? It's great for sentimental souls


To determine what to keep and what to pass on, Kondo recommends taking the item in your hands and asking yourself, "Does it spark joy?". By letting intuition, rather than logic, take the lead, the theory is that you'll be able to make a more authentic decision.

What Mumsnetters say:

"I have regretted items that I've thrown away in the past, but with the KonMari system I can honestly say that I don't regret anything going."

"I counted my vintage clothes as sentimental items and left them till last. I kept one t-shirt from a brilliant gig I went to and pinned my entire (Kondo'd) badge collection onto it."

6. Proceed with caution when it comes to important paperwork 

In Kondo world, the rule is "discard everything", except "papers which fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely". For tax records and the like, she suggests digitising, and chucking the paper copy. 

HOWEVER - you obviously can't be too careful with this stuff, so in pursuit of the bottom line, we quizzed Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert for, on how best to tackle your paperwork. Here's what he had to say:

Set up online accounts. "Request bills and statements that come in the form of a weekly or monthly email, that goes into your personal or work account."

Make a spreadsheet. "Set up a household bills spreadsheet to track key details, e.g. the bill amount, provider, last payment, renewal date etc."

Hang on to P45s and P60s. "Keep these for up to six years; this is the length of time the tax man has to go back and query what you've paid. Keep a physical record of a recent pay slip as well, to confirm your tax code and proof of employment."

Keep a utility bill. "Sometime companies will request proof of address."

Chuck out the rest. "That's bills over two years old and bills from your old service provider - but shred, don't chuck, bank statements."

Get busy with your scanner. "Make copies of documents before you throw away, and ensure your computer has a strong password."

7. Part with culled items on good terms - and send them someplace useful

To do damage control on guilt, Kondo recommends thinking about the happy memories that an item has brought you. Feeling especially affectionate? She also suggests a goodbye hug.

What Mumsnetters say:

"My youngest is just leaving home, so we are going through sentimental stuff together, saying thank you and goodbye to old pantomime programmes and so on. But we're keeping all the photos!"

"Lots of charity shops take clothes for rags - that means holey socks and all! If things aren't selling on Facebook groups, offer them for free if the recipient collects, or on local Freecycle sites."

8. You can hack the system

Once you've got the basics down, you're good to customise - as these tried and tested edits from Mumsnetters show.

What Mumsnetters say:

"I have a two-minute rule. If a job needs doing and takes two minutes or less - such as cleaning the sink, sweeping the kitchen floor, or matching socks - then I'll do it then and there."

"I now operate a Checkpoint Charlie at the front door: all entrants are subject to random searches for smuggled komono. If found, it will be seized and recycled."

9. Beyond the fluff, there's a sustainable blueprint for sorting your shit out

What Mumsnetters say:

"I had to screen the more 'woo' bits of her philosophy - I don't buy into that kind of thing. But the basic principles and methods work extremely well. I'm now surrounded only by things that I actually want, and I'm much more aware of what I bring into the house.

10. But be warned: even hardened sceptics aren't wholly woo-proof

What Mumsnetters say:

"I have a pair of cashmere bed socks. The other day I folded them beautifully, and took a moment to enjoy and be grateful that I've got them. I then remembered that whilst reading the book I thought she was bonkers thanking her handbag for its hard work. Ergo: I've become just as bonkers."

Liked this? Try these:

10 more ways to declutter your home 

Make your children's room magical

Share tidying hacks on MN Talk 


Last updated: over 2 years ago