I wish that we could all hit pause on our daily responsibilities, welcome the prim and utterly delightful Marie Kondo into the most intimate recesses of our homes, and KonMari all the clutter out of our lives. But Kondo’s method of “tidying up,” popularized (and demonized) once again by her show on Netflix, might not always be accessible to everyone—no matter how inspired they are to speak to their belongings and make mountains of their clothing.
How can we, the busy and the exhausted, continue living our lives and still get a piece of that life-changing magic?
What’s Tough About the Marie Kondo Method
Part of the impact of the KonMari method is that it, by definition, involves going through every single thing in your home and deciding—and this distinction is important—not what to get rid of, but what to keep. In the end everything that remains should not only spark joy, as the now ubiquitous phrase goes, but should also have a proper place. You’re uprooting your home, creating mountains and piles anywhere there’s floor space, and physically touching every single thing you own. The process, just as much as the end result, alters the lives of those who undertake the challenge.
(Image credit: Patty Chan/Shutterstock)
If you can get through everything you own in a weekend, brava! But if you don’t have gobs of uninterrupted time to devote to the task, you don’t have to self-select out of the KonMari craze.
How to KonMari, the Slow and Lazy Way
Here’s how to break KonMari-style decluttering into manageable chunks of time in a way that honors the spirit of what our beloved Japanese organizing guru has incited millions across the globe to do.
1. Maintain the KonMari Order
Marie Kondo is deliberate in the categories she sets for her clients to work through when they set out to declutter. The order in which the categories are tackled is also prescribed, as follows: clothing, books, papers, komono (or, miscellaneous items), and sentimental items. She argues that by the time you reach the sentimental items, which is the hardest category for most people, your joy filter has been sufficiently honed.
When you’re embarking on a KonMari mission, don’t fudge on her method just because you can’t devote yourself to decluttering wholesale. Still keep Marie Kondo’s categories and go in her recommended order. Just break them down further and address each smaller category as you can.
For instance, you’ll start with clothing. Think about where all the clothing in the house lives and make a list of more specific categories such as tops, bottoms, dresses, coats, and accessories. Work your way through these one by one. Once you’ve done every category of clothing, move on to the books category, and so on. This KonMari checklist can help you get started.
2. Schedule Small Bits of KonMari Time
If you’re serious about realizing the dream of a clutter-free home, you’re going to need a bit more than the passing inspiration of a Netflix series and an impassioned emptying of your bookshelf. This is especially true if the entire process is going to take you months—without any TV crews showing up to motivate you to actually make progress.
Treat your aspiration to KonMari your house like a work project with a deadline you can’t miss and plot it out on your calendar. Every Thursday is KonMari night, or every night the half-hour between getting the kids down and picking up your book is KonMari time. Make it a habit, and don’t let yourself off the hook.
No, you won’t get through everything as quickly as the weekend warriors. But you’ll be making progress all the same—on your own time.
3. Do It With Someone, or Better Yet, Everyone
If you make KonMari-ing your space a household undertaking, it’s more likely that the mindset will catch fire with your family members or roommates. Keep up the momentum, even if its a slow burn, by keeping the conversation going.
Decluttering together brings you into that camaraderie that comes from tackling a difficult task with others. As every person commits to addressing a daunting task, the morale makes it easier and easier to push through the loss of motivation and inevitable sense of drudgery. And as each individual goes through their things, the memories, feelings, and fears that are unearthed have a ready, loving ear. More practically, having someone you’re accountable to helps keep you on track so you can cross that finish line.
How are you KonMari-ing while simultaneously living your life?