The Best Order To Tidy Up, According To Marie Kondo

marie kondo the order of tidying up


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Hi, I’m Ryan

Decluttering has been an important part of my minimalist journey. Marie Kondo taught me that following the right order is very important to guaranteeing a successful journey. Today, I know that it’s not only about what you declutter but how you declutter.

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What Is The Right Order For Tidying Up?

What Is The Right Order For Tidying Up

Tidying in the right order is perhaps one of the most characteristic aspects of Marie Kondo’s methods. The success of the KonMari method lies in following the correct order when decluttering. This means tidying up clothes, followed by books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items.

the correct order for tidying upWhen you follow this order, you work from the least to the most challenging items. This sequence was strategically built so you progress from the items you are less emotionally attached to (clothes) to the ones you have a harder time parting with (sentimental items). The level of difficulty generally increases as you tackle each new category.

As a result, you become more skilled at selecting what you will keep in the long run. You refine your decision-making skills as you go, setting yourself up for success.

By following this order, you’re able to practice as you go and become a master at defining what each category means to you. The signature KonMari order is one of the reasons her method works so well time and again.

Following this sequence has its perks, but keep in mind that in minimalism rules aren’t set in stone. You may prefer to follow an order that fits better with your lifestyle. You may even choose not to follow an order at all, and that’s okay, too. Minimalist philosophy isn’t about religiously following a set of rules. Learning from the methods that are out there, though, is a great way to help you get started. Perhaps you might even design an order of your own.

marie kondo rules to live by

What Are The Benefits Of Moving In A Specific Order?

The Benefits Of Tidying Up In A Specific Order

When decluttering, moving in a specific order can be help you stay focused and meet your tidying goals. It allows you to develop your decision-making skills for deciding what to keep and become more proficient at defining your categories. But there are more benefits to following Marie’s suggested order.

Moving in this sequence can help you fight feelings of overwhelm, reduce your tendency to procrastinate, and even help you stay motivated, to name a few!

best order for tidying up

Following An Order Helps Fight Feelings Of Overwhelm

One thing I’ve noticed as I read through Marie’s work is that following the recommended sequence of categories helps fight feelings of overwhelm. When you’re faced with such an important task as clearing your home to make space for what matters in life, it might feel a little overwhelming.

When you decide to move in stages, though, your to-do list immediately gets broken down into manageable sections. All of a sudden, you only have to finish working through a single category, not your entire home. As you ask yourself whether each of your belongings sparks joy, you sharpen your ability to distinguish what truly adds value in your life. You become better and more confident as you go, and your new tidying skills can give you more motivation to fight feelings of overwhelm as you declutter.

embracing an analog life

It Keeps Procrastination At Bay

As a former procrastinator, I understand how easy it may seem to push things off for later. I also know how painful it is to have a million different things to do when my procrastination catches up with me. Many of us find it easier to push off doing something because it appears tiring, boring, or even painful. But that’s not the best move.

keeping procrastination at bayDecluttering your home is a big project alright, but fear not, for following the right tidying order can help keep procrastination at bay. Understanding that you only have to work through a given category at a time can give you the push you need to get the work done. Breaking your project into little steps simplifies the tasks that are ahead of you.

Suddenly, they become very manageable. Following this order allows you to focus only on the immediate phase and get it done as best as you can without thinking about what’s next. When it’s done, then you can move on to the next category.

Tidying In Order Helps You Let Go Of Items With Gratitude

Another benefit of following Marie’s order of tidying is that you become better at practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a very important aspect of the KonMari method. According to Marie, expressing gratitude to your items for taking care of you shouldn’t be overlooked.

gratitude helps us feel more positive emotionsIdeally, you should let go of every one of your belongings with gratitude. Over time, I’ve learned that gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, which increases our wellbeing and feelings of life fulfillment. Following a specified order will ensure that you practice manifesting this feeling with every category.

As you practice, you’ll see that being appreciative of every small detail in your life will come easy to you. This will transform your well-being and overall life satisfaction.

It’s Easy To See Progress And Stay Motivated

Last but not least, an important benefit to tidying up in a specific order is that you can see your progress and stay motivated. A big task like decluttering your home may feel like a lot. But breaking it down the KonMari way can help you improve your productivity.

observe progress and stay motivatedTracking your progress becomes a lot easier. When you move in this way, you also get a clear indication of how much you’ve worked toward your ultimate goal of creating a clutter-free space. With the completion of each category or subcategory, you will feel accomplished.

Finishing the smallest of tasks also gives your brain a small rush of dopamine, a little thrill that’ll keep you going. This increases your energy and enthusiasm. As a result, you’re able to build momentum for the upcoming stages, guaranteeing the success of your decluttering project.

Tidy Up Clothes First

Tidy Up Clothes First

Clothes is the first category to be dealt with because it’s the easiest of them all. Our clothes touch our bodies every day, so we are already in tune with how we feel about them. In fact, we are more familiar with our clothes than we are with all the other categories in our homes.

organize clothing firstWe’re all used to making decisions about clothing every day, aren’t we? Personally, I prefer to stick to a minimal wardrobe that reduces decisions and saves time. It may be easier for some people than others, but, in the end, we must all make a decision about what we wear before leaving the house each day.

As a minimalist, I regularly purge my closet, which gets me to analyze my relationship to the clothes I wear most often — and it’s a process I strongly recommend! Completing the clothing category first provides tangible proof of your tidying efforts. Marie says that being greeted by a tidy closet every morning can give you the motivation you need to keep going. I cannot agree with her more.

building a capsule wardrobe

Declutter Books Second

Declutter Books Second

While this category may be hard for booklovers, books are generally among the easiest things in our homes to part ways with. You’ve probably read most of the books lying around in your home and kept all of the valuable information in your brain. If some books have a deeper sentimental value — maybe a specific author or character is especially significant to you — then you should set them aside in the sentimental items pile.

tidy up books secondDecluttering your books doesn’t mean you have to give up on the ones you love the most. You can keep the ones you know you’ll be reading time and again. I certainly do! You should choose to keep only the ones that are most valuable to you. Marie recommends keeping about 30 books. That’s a number I tend to agree with.

Like with most other items, there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. There are many ways to declutter your books, but a valuable guiding question is, “Will this book add value to my life going forward?” You’ll soon find that as you work through your books, you’ll hone your decision-making skills for when you move on to the next category.

Tackle Paperwork Third

Tackle Paperwork Third

Although sorting through paperwork may sound easy, this is actually a rather deceptive category. That’s because it’s difficult to identify how much paperwork you have in a stack, in a drawer, and in your home. Plus, working through your paperwork can get messy very quickly. That’s why Marie generally recommends getting rid of all of it.

sort through paperwork thirdWhile you may not necessarily be sentimental about all your paperwork, you may be attached to some of it to varying degrees out of an elusive feeling of necessity. Maybe you have a stack of receipts you don’t want to get rid of in case you need proof of warranty someday. Or maybe some of your most important memories are saved on paper. It’s not that simple. That’s why paperwork comes third.

Decluttering your paperwork doesn’t have to be hard, though. An important note here is to gather all your paperwork before you begin. Go through your rooms, drawers, and shelves. Place them all in front of you. Doing this will give you an accurate grasp of the work you have ahead of you. Remember that if any of it holds strong sentimental value, you should set it aside and deal with it when you reach the “sentimental items” category.

Take Care Of Komono (Miscellaneous Items) Fourth

Take Care Of Komono Fourth

Komono is Japanese for miscellany. In this category, you’re supposed to work through every remaining item that doesn’t count as a sentimental item. As you can see, the categories become less defined as you go. Most people have a better understanding of what qualifies as clothing and books than what falls into the komono and sentimental items categories. That’s why komono is one of the final categories.

Because this is a broad category, subcategorizing is a must. It’s strategically placed here because the previous experience will help you subcategorize your belongings with more confidence and independence. As you move through the suggested order, your decision-making skills become sharper, and you’re able to approach the rest of your belongings with greater ease.

declutter like a minimalist
I understand how hard it can be to go through most of your belongings, which is what’s in this category. Over time, I’ve found that it helps to know what questions to ask when decluttering if I’m having a hard time figuring out what to keep.

Sort Through Sentimental Items Last

Sort Through Sentimental Items Last

Sentimental items come last because they are the hardest to tidy. This category is less defined, with lots of room for interpretation, as it can contain items from any one of the previous categories. But what makes this category an exceptional challenge is the emotional attachment you may have to these items.

declutter sentimental Items lastWe become attached to certain belongings because of our memories. We think our memories live in the items we are now face-to-face with. I think it’s important to note, though, that memories don’t live in objects. They live inside us. Yes, nostalgia can make it harder to let go of our belongings. But that doesn’t mean you’re getting rid of all the good memories you have.

The previous stages help you hone your decision-making skills and build the momentum you need to undertake the most difficult stage of all. If you’re having a hard time with your sentimental items, it might be a good idea for you to try the 20/20 rule. It has helped me get through many of mine in the past and can help you, too. When you are done going through this process, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits that minimalism has to offer.

how to throw things away

Surround Yourself With Items That Spark Joy

Surround Yourself With Items That Spark Joy

Following the right order will improve the flow of your decluttering project. Even if the sequence doesn’t speak to you at first, give it a try. Who knows, it might grow on you just like it did for me. You can also try coming up with a unique order that works for you.

keep items that spark joy around youRemember that even though getting rid of your belongings may be hard, the ultimate goal is to surround yourself with objects that spark joy. You want to keep the items that add true value to your life, the ones you cherish the most. Doing so will manifest feelings of contentment and fulfillment not only in your home, but in your life.

Overall, this process will give you a deeper understanding of the KonMari method and of yourself. Becoming aware of what you own, practicing gratitude, and reflecting on the purpose of your objects are all actions that make you mindful of your habits.

It’s worth pointing out that minimalism is about more than what you own. It spills over into all aspects of your life, like the people you surround yourself with, the activities you engage in, and the healthy habits you choose to adopt. Practice being intentional with all of it, and make it a goal to spark joy with every little detail in your life. Soon, you’ll start living life just like you’ve imagined.

the purpose of stuff

Your Turn!

  • What, if any, tidying order do you follow now?
  • What was your favorite part of following this sequence?
1 Comment
  1. I started with the KonMarie method, and it worked great until I got lost in the komono weeds… Those things are mostly NOT easy to pile on your living room floor. It makes sense to me to switch from categories to spaces after doing clothes, books and papers. And if you think about it, those things already have defined spaces to be put in most homes.

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