3 Life-Changing Decluttering Lessons We Learned Straight from Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo Decluttering
Photo: Levi Brown

Everyone from Kate Hudson to Jamie Lee Curtis is buzzing about Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing expert who set off a worldwide decluttering craze with her 2011 pocket-sized book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ($11; amazon.com), and the just-released illustrated follow-up, Spark Joy ($12; amazon.com). In case you haven't had time to dig into either—and subsequently worship her revolutionary KonMari method of storing—we culled the three most important tips from the woman herself, who recently divulged her secrets to a jam-packed audience at the Japan Society in N.Y.C. Read on below for her words of wisdom.

Lesson No. 1: Get a bird's eye view of your belongings.
It may seem daunting, but the first step in Kondo's method is to gather everything in your entire home for a comprehensive look at the many items you have. "It will shock you and wake you up a bit," she says. "You will be surprised by how much stuff you actually own."

Lesson No. 2: Tidy by category, not by location.
Instead of tackling clutter by room, clean up by category—e.g. books, office supplies, old photographs, assorted tchotchkes. She advises beginning with clothing, then moving onto books, documents, and, lastly, family heirlooms.

Lesson No. 3: Determine what makes you happy—and what doesn't.
When deciding which items keep and which to toss, Kondo recommends physically holding each thing in your hands and asking yourself whether it sparks joy (hence her new book's title). If it indeed incites happiness, your body will perk up, she says. Conversely, if while holding it you "feel like you're falling down," it's time to let it go.

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