Confession: I’m a hoarder.

It’s not as bad as it used to be; in middle school I remember having three big boxes in my room stacked with homework from fifth grade, among other papers. I went through a big clean-out phase where I eliminated those boxes (eventually), but that does not mean I eliminated clutter in my room; I just got rid of an obvious chunk of it that sat in the corner.

More recently, with adulthood looming ahead and my life getting busier and busier (try blogging while working part-time and taking 20 credits of college! Ay…), I’ve really taken a strong interest in decluttering. Not having a ton of stuff helps me focus only on what’s important to me, and as a result there is less stress in my life.

Enter: Marie Kondo and her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I first discovered her method while browsing Pinterest for a better way of organizing clothes. I came across one pin that showed how to fold t-shirts so they stood vertically in the drawer.

I did that. It condensed a whole messy drawer of t-shirts into about a third of the drawer. Success!

I wish I had a 'before' picture. You too can have a drawer of shirts this tidy.

A KonMari’d dresser drawer. I count 47 items of clothing.

I got curious about the method. A little more research (read: browsing Pinterest) resulted in me borrowing the book from the library. I went through my room and ended up with two bags of stuff to donate, a bag of clothes to donate, and a bag of miscellaneous things that were really just trash. By the end of it, I still felt like I had too much stuff.

After a few months of going through room-purge phases, I have concluded that the KonMari method is one of if not the best methods for tidying.

1. It asks you to cast a vision.

One of the seven habits of highly effective people is working with the end goal in mind. Marie Kondo seems aware of this, as she asks the reader to think of why they are tidying – what do they want from their clutter-free life? “Think in concrete terms so you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.” (Ch. 2)

I suppose I haven’t done a very good job of actually sitting down to identify what, specifically, I want from my tidy room. Some of it is glimpsed in my room goals post, but beyond that I haven’t thought much. I’ll update you when I share my tidying-up experience.

2. It reveals how much you actually have.

Prior to my KonMari revolution, I never considered myself someone who has a lot of stuff. I mean, sure, I’ve been to the third world and I know what it looks like to live on basic necessities, but I never thought that I had an extreme excess of things I found neither useful nor meaningful.

The KonMari method completely changed all that. I wish I had before-and-after pictures to show you. She directs you to tidy by category rather than location, which means to start by pulling out ALL of your clothes and gathering them into one place. I placed all my clothes on my bed so that I couldn’t go to sleep without dealing with my clutter. I ended up discarding a full garbage bag of clothes in my first round.

3. It asks you, “Does it spark joy?”

I think this point is the most powerful part of the process, because it reveals how much we hang onto that we neither need nor want. I’ll admit, I thought on my first attempt that it was a very silly thing to ask of my possessions, since I do not expect my possessions to give me joy. However, I had fallen into the habit of thinking, “keep it, just in case,” or “keep it, it’s still useful.” Neither of those are relevant if I haven’t used the item in years, and by giving in to that sort of mentality you are letting your things own you, because you end up having a meaningless attachment to stuff.

In shorter words, don’t keep stuff for the sake of having stuff. When I finished my first attempt at doing a KonMari cleanout, I realized that I didn’t feel like I’d actually tidied anything because I didn’t take the joy factor seriously enough to actually get rid of things that didn’t spark joy.

4. It requires that everything has its place.

To be honest, I’m still working on mastering this one. Even though I have some experience in the Montessori method of education, which also emphasizes that everything has its own place, I have a hard time personally applying this principle. I still have a “miscellaneous” drawer that receives items that don’t seem to go anywhere else.

It is important to designate places to store things, because otherwise you will end up with another clutter invasion. I’ve seen it happen; I cleared the top of my dresser a while back, placing only decorative favorites of mine on it. Now the empty space I had has attracted my purse and various other things. I haven’t really designated easily accessible places for these things, thus reducing the efficiency of keeping things tidy.

Remember to finish discarding before you start designating spaces, though, or else items that ought to be discarded will end up being put away instead.

For me, these are the top four reasons why I think KonMari is the best way to tidy your home and your life. I’ll share in a couple weeks my tidying story.

How do you tidy? Do you feel like the way you do things works for you, or are you looking for ideas for improvement?