Five Signature Ways KonMari Differs from Traditional Organizing

February 7, 2017

In October 2014, Marie Kondo introduced the world to the Japanese art of tidying when she released her book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the KonMari Method® was born. Everyone from overwhelmed moms to celebrities have “KonMari’d” their home, fueling a generation of “Konverts” who spark joy every day. The popularity of this revolutionary organizing technique resulted in the U.S. debut of the KonMari® tidying consultant training program in August 2016 and a general resurgence of demand for decluttering services across the professional organizing industry.

Now 31, Kondo devoted half her life to studying tidying by rigorously testing every existing organizing method prior to rolling out her permanent solution to chronic clutter. So what makes this particular professional organizing approach so special? Let’s explore how signature KonMari® techniques differ from traditional organizing methods:

Tidying quickly, all at once, and once and for all

Similar to a detox diet, fitness training program, or aggressive savings plan, the KonMari Method® encourages flash focus and intensity to reset and break the cycle of intermittent tidying, little-by-little. The method is designed to be a special, one-time series of activities executed “quickly,” or within six months. By making the commitment to address everything at once, you also avoid the need to have a professional return to your home multiple times to address frequent rebounds (the state where things without a designated storage space begin to inundate your home again).

“By category” organizing

There is a tendency to organize by room or season (New Year’s, spring cleaning, etc.) rather than category. For example, traditional professional organizers often scope and execute home organization projects by room and/or square footage. Kondo realized this approach may be the reason success can be short-lived, as we often store the same type of items in more than one place. When items are dispersed throughout the home, you can never fully grasp the overall volume and get discouraged before finishing. Thus, the KonMari Method® is the comprehensive execution of tidying by category in the following order: Clothing, Books, Paper, Komono (miscellaneous), and Sentimental items.

“Spark Joy” decision making

KonMari® is a departure from complex organizational theories or numerical strategies. Rather than dwelling on the number or “how many” to discard, donate, or sell, the focus shifts to what you choose to keep, with the goal of surrounding yourself with only the things that “spark joy” or serve the person you are becoming (your ideal lifestyle). Joy manifests in different ways for different people and finding what sparks it is an intuitive exercise. During the tidying process, the feeling can be described as the visceral response you have upon engaging an item you really love.

The KonMari® Fold and other acts of respect and gratitude

The KonMari® folding technique is arguably the most unique and recognizable aspect of the method and has made a lasting impression on closets worldwide. A departure from the traditional stacking, the folding method focuses on standing items up-right, on-edge, vertically in a row to relieve tension and pressure. Clothing is handled with care as you use the palms of your hands to smooth and pull clothes taut and transfer positive energy. The KonMari® Fold is also a great example of themes of respect and gratitude that run throughout the method. Other examples include biding a grateful farewell to objects which no longer serve the person we are becoming and greeting your home to set your tidying intentions.

Simple, fluid storage solutions

Tidying restores balance among people, their possessions, and the space they live in. Therefore, KonMari® encourages you to be aware of the boundaries your home presents to you. Your joy items should “click” within this space, requiring little to no purchasing of intricate storage systems (dressers, filing cabinets, closet systems, etc.) that are often the foundation of many traditional organizing plans. Instead, you are encouraged to “shop your home” for storage related items that either 1) become available due to the reduction of volume during decluttering or 2) can be creatively repurposed to showcase joyful items. Storage is also never the initial focus at the start of tidying and is considered temporary and fluid until all tidying is complete across all categories.

Of course, as with any new program, there are cases where the KonMari Method® may not the best fit. There are also universal aspects of organization that complement both approaches such as sorting like-items, labeling, and designating a place for everything.

What home organizing method do you prefer? Do you think KonMari® is a good fit for your situation? Share your thoughts and subscribe below to receive more tidy tips for your home, mind, and life.

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