Marie Kondo Headshot
Credit: Courtesy Marie Kondo

The KonMari Method, the tidying up process founded by the Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo, has become a huge sensation here in the States—it seems like everyone from our favorite celebs to our next door neighbors are raving about it. Even still, we’re betting that there are a bunch of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge, though you’ve probably been meaning to, especially now that the spring cleaning season is here. If you’re one of the many Americans gearing up for the biggest purge ever, KonMari-style, and having a bit of anxiety about it, here are a few helpful pointers to keep in mind before you start to break up with all your stuff. Promise it’s not going to be as bad as you think.

Marie Kondo EMBED 1
Credit: Laura Simola

Take Baby Steps
Don’t start clearing out your linen closet or home office right off the bat. “The order of tidying is one of the most important elements of the KonMari Method,” says Kondo. Starting with the easiest category and ending with the most difficult one, here is the order she suggests working in: clothing, books, documents and papers, miscellaneous items, and finally memorabilia (anything that was a gift, was inherited, or has some kind of sentimental value).

By tackling the purging process in this order, your sensitivity towards the “spark joy” feeling improves, so by the time you’re ready for the most difficult items (like your old diary or cheerleading costume), you’ll have the ability to quickly determine whether it’s a keeper or not.

Marie Kondo EMBED 3
Credit: Laura Simola

Shock Your System
In order to transform yourself into a well-organized person, you need to shift your perspective. Kondo believes in inflicting some sort of “shock therapy” on your conscience in order to make the tidy lifestyle a reality. “To accomplish this, you need to finish the decluttering process in a short term and at once so that you get the visual impact of the changes,” says Kondo. Once you’ve finished the entire purging process in your home, you will have discovered which kinds of objects spark joy, and which do not, and therefore be able to maintain your clutter-free abode without much effort at all.

Marie Kondo EMBED 2
Credit: Laura Simola

Don’t Rush
Though ideally you will have finished the overall tidying process swiftly, don’t feel like you need to force the “spark joy” feeling. “I don’t give myself limits when it comes to evaluating my belongings,” says Kondo. “Sometimes it takes only a second, but other times it may take more than 10 seconds to catch my feeling towards an item.” The process may start off slow, but with practice, you’ll find yourself identifying the proper happy feeling more quickly.

To watch Marie Kondo help two Brooklyn families tackle their homes, you can tune in to her upcoming TV special Tidy Up with KonMari! on May 6 and 7 on the NHK WORLD channel (Japan’s sole independent all-English language public broadcaster) or stream it live from its website.