KonMari cheat sheet: how to tidy your home like Netflix's Marie Kondo

Tidying guru Marie Kondo is bringing calm and order to the lives — and homes — of millions. Here's how she does it

27 January 2019 - 00:00
By Mila Crewe-Brown
Tidying guru Marie Kondo.
Image: Supplied Tidying guru Marie Kondo.

Marie Kondo's new Netflix series (now showing) Tidying up with Marie Kondo has sent ripples through the homes of disorganised, untidy and just plain busy people around the world.

If you haven't seen the show, or heard of Kondo, she's something of a tidying authority. Inflated as that title may seem, her process, coined the KonMari method, has proven to be more successful than any other.

Her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising is a global hit.

Kondo was named one of Time's "100 Most Influential People" back in 2015. 

What separates her from the Martha Stewarts and hoarding police is the respect she gives to 'things'.

Marie's approach is mindful and gives objects the value that they desperately lack in a consumer-driven world. Her request for tidyers to physically hold and thank the items that they are getting rid of is incredibly powerful as it forces awareness and results in gratitude.



Before you begin, envision what you'd ideally like your home and life to be like at the end of this. Having a vision and communicating it makes the process run smoothly and will keep you on track.


Apparently method is everything and Kondo advocates tidying by category (see below), rather than room. Why? One category (like paperwork) is often dispersed throughout rooms, so starting and finishing categories at a time brings resolution.


Trust us, there's folding and there's folding and Kondo has it down to a fine art. Generally you need to fold far smaller than usual and store things like clothes upright. You'll quickly realise how much space is wasted laying linen or clothing flat and piling it, as opposed to upright.


Make an enormous pile of the things in your category as a starting point. It will force you to take stock and face up to the task at hand. Plus it's like a mirror to consumerism for those who keep objects hidden behind closed doors.


Sparking joy is a notion at the core of Kondo's process. Holding each item, ask yourself whether that pair of jeans, coat or book sparks joy (yes, really). Kondo describes this spark as a feeling that goes "tjing" within you. If it doesn't spark joy, thank it and let it go. This process will actually teach you a lot about yourself.



Beyond only sparking joy, ask: is this item of value to me and is it useful? Be warned, giving superficial attachments to clothes is dangerous: cue all the outfits you were gifted or wore on some special day.


'Wake them up' first by tapping them if they've been stored for a long time. Ask, will keeping these books benefit me? Books are a reflection of our values, so clearing them will show what's important to you.


Keep all paperwork in one place. Separate it into:

  • Pending (letters and accounts that need action);
  • Important (long-term paperwork like contracts or insurance documents); and
  • Miscellaneous (notes you often go back to refer to).


This is the miscellaneous category and includes items from your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, to toys, stationery and garage stuff. Her advice for electronics and cords, for example, is to store them upright and in small boxes.


This includes photographs, letters, keepsakes and items with emotion attached to them. What you choose to keep, Marie says, keep with joy. Focus on choosing what you want to take into your future rather than what to eliminate.