How to Marie Kondo Your Move

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marie kondo your move

Marie Kondo may hold the secret to your easiest move ever. If Kondo’s name sounds familiar, that’s probably because of her 2014 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The international bestseller has won over many proud “Konverts”— that’s the nickname for Kondo’s millions of devotees around the globe.

Kondo’s signature “KonMari Method” was devised to help people declutter their homes, but the rules she outlines are handy for anyone preparing to pack up years of accumulated belongings. Remember that collection of Christmas figurines you inherited from your grandmother? The KonMari method frees you from moving it across the country for the third time.

The KonMari Method, explained

At the core of Kondo’s philosophy is the idea that every object in your home should make you happy, or in her terms, “spark joy.” By paring your belongings down to only the things that truly add to your life, you’ll have fewer boxes to move, you’ll free up more space in your new home, and, according to Kondo, you’ll have more energy to focus on the important stuff. (Kondo’s website cites examples of clients whose lives have been changed by her method. One woman was even inspired to start her own business after the KonMari Method reportedly helped her re-evaluate her priorities.)

Here are some tips to declutter your home and your life, KonMari-style.

Give yourself plenty of time

shelvesIf you’re moving soon, there’s one downside to Kondo’s method ─ this isn’t the kind of project you can accomplish in an afternoon. To do it right, it takes time. Pick up each item you own, hold the object in your hand, and ask yourself if that item inspires joy. If the answer is “no,” or “I’m not sure,” Kondo tells followers to thank the object for its service and then donate it or toss it in the trash.

If you’re a little skeptical, you’re not alone, but thousands of people who wrote reviews on the book’s Amazon page are believers. For many of them, thanking an object helped them overcome the emotional attachment preventing them from letting go of unneeded possessions.

Move from easiest to hardest

The KonMari Method addresses specific categories of items, and Kondo recommends starting with the items that will be the easiest to part ways with and moving up to the harder items. If you’re set on following the method for your upcoming move, work in this order:

  • Clothing, shoes, and books
  • Documents
  • Miscellaneous objects found in drawers and on countertops shelves
  • Personal mementos

At each stage, begin by gathering the items in the category into a big pile. Pick up each object one by one and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, it goes; if it does, it gets to come with you to your new home.

There will, of course, be plenty of objects that might not make you feel gleeful but are necessary for day-to-day living — like your toothbrush or medical records. The KonMari method doesn’t apply to these necessities. But be as strict as possible about what you label a necessity.

Don’t let guilt or nostalgia get in the way

If the only reason you’ve hung on to that old sweater is because your grandmother knitted it for you, this is the moment to think carefully about what purpose it serves. If it’s been stuffed in a drawer for years, is there a way to repurpose it? If not, Kondo says to say thank you and let it go. The KonMari Method requires complete honesty, and urges you to reconsider possessions you’re keeping out of guilt. (It can help to reframe the way you think about exchanging gifts. As Kondo told Well + Good, the act of giving and receiving is what sparks joy for most people, not the objects themselves.)

Donate new or gently used clothing but throw away stained or torn items. Those won’t bring anyone joy.

donateIn an “Ask Me Anything” interview on Reddit, Kondo acknowledges that things we feel sentimental about often do spark joy. That’s why she recommends saving mementos and keepsakes for last. She writes:

The reason why the mementos should be the last category to work on is that those items are very difficult to see if it sparks joy or not. So you need to sharpen your ability to figure out and see the difference while you are working on different categories of items like clothes, or books …

From my experience with my clients, those who actually complete the whole KonMari method — meaning they reach the point where they work on the memento category, they already have the ability to decide what to go and what not to go, and they end up keeping the majority of the diaries and gifts, but by the time they make those decisions, they are confident those are the items they should keep. So they are happier.

If you’re still struggling to figure out what to keep and what to toss, consider scanning or digitizing things like your children’s artwork or old family photos.

Pack it up

Kondo’s message can be just as powerful for little ones. Get the whole family on board with your decluttering by encouraging your kids to choose an organization (a local shelter, or Goodwill) where they’d like to donate what they’re discarding. Encourage them to put one item per day in a donation box, thinking about why they’re thankful for it and how it might go on to help somebody else.

Once you’ve whittled your stuff down to daily essentials and the items that bring you joy, it’s time to get packing. The good news? It will take you far less time to load it all up, and you’ll have fewer boxes to lug to your new space — and unpack later. Your new, clutter-free home will bring you joy much sooner.

Helen Chioros is a real estate expert and mom-extraordinaire with deep insight into leading healthy, family-oriented lifestyles. Currently, she resides in the Windy City with her husband and two boys (ages 12 and 8) while serving as Owners.com’s Managing Broker for Illinois. Visit Owners.com, where home buying and selling is made simple.

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