We have all heard of the KonMari method by now, or heard the question ‘does it spark joy?’ at least once. This famous decluttering method is a popular way to maintain a tidy home – but there are some common mistakes we are often make that mean it just doesn't stick.
There is more to the method than Marie Kondo’s tidying tips and asking yourself if you love an item or not, and limiting yourself to this makes the method far less effective.
Here, certified Kon-Mari consultants have shared the most common mistakes people make with this method, and how to get it right.
Kon-Mari method mistakes to avoid
These are the seven most important tidying mistakes to avoid if you want to perfect the art of the Kon-Marie method.
1. Not making a plan
One of the most common decluttering tips professionals always rely on is making a plan. When it comes to the KonMari method, however, many people skip this step and go straight to asking themselves if an item sparks joy or not, Marine André, home organizer and accredited KonMari consultant at En Route to Joy, points out. This is a big mistake if you want to see progress, she warns.
‘Before starting the decluttering process, it's crucial to set a vision for your ideal lifestyle and environment. This step helps maintain motivation throughout the process. Skipping this step will lead to giving up halfway through or making the wrong decisions about what to keep, which impacts motivation even more.’
Marine, is an accredited home organiser and the founder of En route to Joy. She is a certified KonMari® consultant and a big believer in the method with it having transformed her own life.
2. Not taking the method seriously
The KonMari method has become a bit of a meme on the internet now, and many people boil the approach down to questions about joy – this is not the root of the method, however, Amélie Saint-Jacques, professional organizer and certified KonMari consultant at Amelie Organizes warns, and it is a common hurdle that prevents us from perfecting our home organizing:
‘While only keeping things that spark joy is a useful concept, it is only one part of the method, which goes beyond just decluttering and aims to help you change your life for the better.
There are actually six steps to the KonMari Method™:
- Commit yourself to tidying up.
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
- Finish discarding first (meaning, before organizing anything).
- Tidy by category, not by location (this also makes more sense when storing items, to keep like with like).
- Follow the right order (clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous, then sentimental items last).
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
‘As you can see, this is more complex than just grabbing some clothes from a drawer and tossing aside those we don't love!’
Amélie Saint-Jacques is a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organizer based in San Antonio with years of experience in professional tidying.
3. Trying to fold everything by the book
File folding is a fantastic way to organize a dresser and keep your clothing in check, but sticking to it for everything can just be a nuisance, says Zoe Snow, professional organizer and founder of Sorted by Snow. The reality is, folding everything this way just isn’t realistic, she says.
‘A couple of weeks go by, and the drawers go back to being discombobulated. This is why I always suggest hanging t-shirts and easily wrinkled items, and simply rolling the rest.’
Zoë has had a passion for organization and design since she was a child. As she witnessed the immediate improvements to her clients’ surroundings - and their profound appreciation - Zoë realized that her passion for helping people, and her knack for creating order, can be truly life changing.
4. Not actually decluttering, just organizing
When you don't follow every rule and only stick to ‘joy’, then it is easy to keep a hold of everything you own and instead go over the top with pretty home storage to keep it hidden – creating the illusion of organization without anything being easier to use or find, Marine André, KonMari consultant, points out.
‘It's crucial to finish discarding first before storing items. Otherwise, you are postponing your decision until you run out of storage space again.’
5. Decluttering too much
It may sound strange to say decluttering too much is a mistake in a decluttering method, but it is entirely possible to end up with home items you’ll regret throwing away when you don't follow the method correctly, Zoe Snow, professional organizer, warns.
‘People tend to get overly excited and can't part with items their family may need. It is important to involve the whole family when decluttering so that everyone feels heard and valued.’
6. Not sticking with the maintenance
The KonMari method can also become a bit of a fluke if you don't commit to keeping up with the maintenance – a common downfall for many followers of the method who realize their work day is just too busy.
Zoe Snow, professional organizer explains that regular monthly maintenance is required to keep your home tidy: ‘I suggest setting a timer for 15 minutes and reviewing each space, asking yourself the questions (Does this bring me joy, does it fit me, does this work, etc).
‘The Marie Kondo method is not a "one and done," it requires regular upkeep.’
7. Not reflecting on why something doesn't spark Joy
Sometimes it can be hard to know if an item sparks joy, but when you do find that item that just doesn't make you happy anymore, it is important to note why to help learn from our mistakes and changing tastes. Not reflecting on this is a common mistake people make that leads to their home becoming cluttered again in the future, says Amélie Saint-Jacques, KonMari consultant:
‘It's good to reflect on why we still have an item if we don't love it.
Maybe we love the color of that dress, but it turns out that the color doesn't look good on us – lesson learned, don't buy that anymore. Maybe the fabric is super uncomfortable – okay, no more polyester, for example; problem solved.
‘The method can show us if we are holding on to things out of guilt, or because someone else gave them to us; it can teach us that things that bring up negative memories for us can be donated even though they were once important.’
Is the KonMari method worth it?
For many people, the KonMari method is worth the time and effort it takes to set up the first time. However, it is important to follow all six of the rules to get the method right and commit to maintaining it to get the most out of it in the long run.
Does decluttering ever end?
Even with methods such as the KonMari method, decluttering is a never-ending task that needs to be revisited every once in a while to stay on top of it all. This can be because your tastes or situation changes, meaning things you loved in the past just end up taking up space now, for instance. Doing little and often can help you stay on top of your decluttering without having to have a big decluttering day every few months.
One of the most common decluttering mistakes, especially with the KonMari method, is thinking that you have to tackle all of it alone, Marine André, KonMari consultant, concludes.
‘Some of my clients have mistakenly thought they should handle everything on their own, only to eventually feel defeated. Reading Marie's book may not suffice. By seeking guidance from a consultant, you can have an accountability partner and make the process less daunting and avoid decluttering when you feel overwhelmed.’
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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