Rules Marie Kondo Lives By: How To Spark Joy Daily

marie kondo rules


ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

From day one as a minimalist, I knew that decluttering and organizing would be a bit of a process. Over the years, I’ve found that a comprehensive set of rules or guidelines can be of great help along the way. I’ve learned that incorporating different views helps me hone my skills, which is why I regularly reflect on Marie Kondo’s advice.

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Marie Kondo is a world-renowned expert when it comes to decluttering and tidying up. Her method has helped millions of people purge and declutter by following Japanese principles. For those of you interested in following the KonMari method, here are the six main rules Marie follows when tidying up.

What Are The Rules Marie Kondo Lives By?

What Are The Rules Marie Kondo Lives By

There are six rules to Marie Kondo’s tidying method, and together, they offer a valuable approach to finetuning your life by way of how you declutter and organize your home.

six rules to Marie Kondos tidying methodDuring her time working as a tidying consultant, Marie identified a few principles that’ll help you tidy your home and spark joy in your life. Her six rules of tidying can help you undertake the Japanese art of decluttering and offer a valuable place to start.

An important note here is that in minimalism, nothing is set in stone. Flexibility is key. The minimalist lifestyle should adapt to your intentions in life. The same is true for rules, which are more like guidelines as far as minimalism goes. They should keep you in the lane that works best for you, and help you get to your destination. Feel free to follow these as strictly or as loosely as your lifestyle and values allow.

Commit To Decluttering

Commit To Decluttering

Marie’s first rule to a clutter and mess-free home is simple: commit yourself to tidying up your space. Sometimes, decluttering feels like an insurmountable task, so the recommendation here is to take the plunge and start decluttering once and for all.

set a date on the calendarSetting your intentions with resolve and investing the time and effort is half the work. With a can-do attitude, you’ll easily find the drive to go through all your belongings and clear up your home.

When you think too much, you stall. A practical way to approach this rule is to set yourself a deadline. Try completing your decluttering task by the end of the day. Taking too long to do it will consume your energy and hinder your momentum. Plus, the room will likely get messy again.

Set your mind to it, and you’ll soon experience the joy of living with the items you truly cherish and be on the right track to achieving your ideal lifestyle.

decluttering when your overwhelmed

Imagine Your End Goal Before You Begin Tidying

Imagine Your End Goal Before You Begin Tidying

I can’t agree more with Marie when she highlights the importance of visualizing your ideal life before you begin your decluttering process. Think about what you want your life to be about. What feelings does it bring out? Take the time to reflect on what matters most. Envision the kind of home you want to live in and consider your lifestyle in this new environment.

Then, write or sketch out your thoughts. This process will clarify why you are embarking on this tidying journey. More than a step-by-step process, Marie’s approach to tidying will lead you toward sparking joy in your life and changing it forever.

I’ve found that what you own affects your life in a big way. The more you own, the more crowded your space and your mind.

downshift your lifestyle
Like me, you can take things a step further and look at all areas of your life: what is your ideal lifestyle in your career, relationships, hobbies, health, etc.? The decluttering process shouldn’t only be applied to your material belongings. When you envision how you want your life to play out, you can take actionable steps to make space for what really matters.

Really Discard Unwanted Items, Don’t Hide Them Away

Really Discard Unwanted Items

Discarding your clutter is an important part of the process because it clears space in your home and in your mind. Disposing of your excess belongings before moving on to organizing gives you a better grasp of what you have and what needs to be stored in your home. It’s only after discarding that you can turn your full attention to what you’ve decided to keep: the things that bring you the most joy.

Discard Unwanted ItemsAccording to Marie, discarding provides a valuable opportunity to learn from the past. For instance, if you find yourself face to face with a huge pile of unused items, you might learn that they have no purpose in your life. This type of reflection will affect how you approach buying new things moving forward and give you a whole new take on life.

When it comes to selecting what stays and what doesn’t, Marie and I approach things a little bit differently. She values cherishing the items that spark joy and letting go of the rest with gratitude. I find that I discard belongings in a more pragmatic manner and like to employ a few minimalist guidelines that help me get rid of items easily and efficiently. It might come in handy to know that there are many ways to discard your clutter that go beyond landfill, like donating or recycling.

Different Ways To Discard Your Clutter

  • Trash
  • Recycle
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Regift
  • Repurpose
donate unwanted items

Places To Donate Your Decluttered Items

Work Through Categories, Not Rooms

Work Through Categories Not Rooms

This Marie Kondo rule feels a little contrary to what most people do when decluttering their homes. While it may seem more logical to move from room to room, Marie likes to point out that this type of movement prevents us from seeing the big picture of what we really own.

sort through categories not roomsWe usually store the same types of items in more than one place at a time. You may keep most of your clothes in your closet, but there’s also some of it in the guestroom wardrobe, and the rest hung on hooks around the house.

With your belongings all spread out, you can never view a full category’s worth of the things you own. This might be one of the reasons why your decluttering process failed in the past. When you keep decluttering every room in your home separately, you end up doing the same work time and time again.

I tried this in my own home, working through categories instead of location, and I can honestly say that it works. When we can’t grasp the overall volume of our belongings, finishing the task is impossible. To escape this never-ending cycle of decluttering, follow Marie’s rule and sort your belongings according to five main categories in this order: clothing, books, paper, komono (aka miscellaneous items), and sentimental items.

Marie Kondo Rules For Clothing

When sorting through categories, start by combining all your clothing items in one place. Check every wardrobe and drawer in your house. Don’t forget your coat racks. If you can safely say that all your clothing is in front of you, you can move on to checking whether each item adds value to your life.

Marie Kondo Rules For Books

The books category includes all books, magazines, and reading materials in your possession. Gather all of these items in one place to see just how many you own. Reflect on the feeling each of these brings you when deciding whether it should stay in your collection.

how to declutter books

Marie Kondo Rules For Paper

The paper category includes all the paperwork that’s taking up needless space in your home — bills, coupons, pay stubs, insurance statements, etc. Set aside the paper goods that have sentimental value, like letters and children’s artwork. These will be tackled at the end of your process, along with the other sentimental items. Marie recommends discarding all paperwork that doesn’t fall in the following three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited time, must be kept indefinitely.

how to declutter paperwork

Marie Kondo Rules For Komono

In this category, Marie includes the items that don’t fall into any of the previous three. She defines komono as small articles, miscellaneous items, accessories, gadgets or small tools, and parts or attachments. Because this is such a big umbrella category, I recommend breaking it down into subcategories to help you stay on track. Remember to gather all the items in one place before assessing whether each of them sparks joy.

Marie Kondo Rules For Sentimental Items

The sentimental items category includes objects with an emotional value, like cards, gifts, photos, or other keepsakes. There’s a reason Marie suggests saving this category for last: things that hold deep sentimental value are the hardest to dispose of. I’d like to underscore that you shouldn’t force yourself to let go of anything you’re not absolutely sure about. Look inward and be true to yourself when reflecting on your belongings.

Tidy Up In A Specific Order Every Time

Tidy Up In A Specific Order Every Time

The rules Marie Kondo lives by dictate that there is a right order to follow when ridding your home of clutter. This rule ties in very closely with the previous one. When helping others tidy their homes, Marie likes to follow the order of categories listed above.

starting organizing with easier categoriesMarie and I are both on the same page here. When tidying up your home, following an order of categories guarantees that your process flows effectively.

To keep your momentum, she suggests starting with items you’re least likely to be attached to and moving on to the most challenging ones: clothes, books, papers, kimono, and, lastly, sentimental items.

By starting with easier categories and progressing into the most challenging ones, you will perfect your decision-making skills and gain a deeper understanding of her method. Following this order will make choosing what items to keep easier than when you started off.

Marie Kondo’s Order of Tidying Up

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Paper
  4. Komono
  5. Sentimental Items
tidy up by the same order every time

intentional living

Keep Something Only If It Sparks Joy

Keep Something Only If It Sparks Joy

“Does it spark joy?” is a well-known catchphrase of Marie’s. What she means is, when in doubt about whether to keep or toss an item, ask yourself whether it sparks joy in your life. Only you can know what makes you happy.

Marie uses feelings as her standard for decision-making. The key is to pick up each object separately and quietly reflect on whether it sparks joy, paying close attention to how your body responds. If an item doesn’t spark joy, be grateful for the role it played in your life, and then let it go.

marie kondo tidying tips

“The ultimate goal is to spark joy every day and lead a joyful life.”

– Marie Kondo, KonMari

Although I tend to be a little more pragmatic in my decluttering process, this is a tip I have adapted and been following for years. It’s all about intent and finding a purpose in your belongings. If it makes you happy, keep it. If not, let it go.

Find The Motivation To Dive Into Marie Kondo’s Rules

Find The Motivation To Dive Into Marie Kondos Rules

These rules apply to more than just the KonMari method, and can extend to simple decluttering and regular tidying at home, or they can help you embark on your decluttering journey and transform your life.

find the motivationBut knowing these rules by heart won’t do you any good if you lack the motivation to get started. I know from experience that it’s hard to find that motivation. After a decade of minimalist experience, I recognize how important it is to find that spark to get going.

Like Marie, I always recommend nailing down your reason for decluttering before you begin. What is your motive for doing it, and how can your life improve when you have less clutter around? Then, start small, setting achievable goals and celebrating your quick wins.

Most importantly, once you finally find that trigger that gets you going, don’t let it fade. Find ways to keep your momentum going so that you can continue building on your progress and achieving your goals for a more organized, clutter-free space.

get motivated to declutter

Your Turn!

  • What is your favorite KonMari rule from this list?
  • If you could add a new rule to this list, what would it be?
1 Comment
  1. I have throughly enjoyed your post and have learned a lot from it. It is obvious that a lot of time and work has gone into writing it. Thank you for everything

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