How Marie Kondo’s Tidying Method Cleared My Head

A true life changer

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I consider myself to be a pretty clean and tidy person. A former colleague of mine was fascinated when I told her I've never, ever had one of those chairs in my bedroom that somehow always seems to amass a giant pile of clothes. Just the other day, I warned my boyfriend my room was messy because my gym bag and tote bag were haphazardly resting on the floor in a corner. (There was also a not-so-cute layer of dust on my bookshelves, but no one would have noticed that unless I pointed it out. Which I did.) My one problem area, however, is my closet. It's where shirts go to get wrinkled and anxiety builds with each exhausted toss of pants. That collection chair? I have the shelf version of it, and this month, I decided enough was enough.

The KonMari way of tidying gained widespread attention last year and became a bona fide "thing" early this year. Developed by Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the method essentially asks you to consider the joy each object in your home brings you. The end goal isn't to necessarily get rid of objects, but to ensure each and every item with which you fill your space makes you happy. Sure, you're tidying your physical space, but you're also tidying your mental space and spirit. Trust no one who says they would not enjoy that.

I, for one, was in need of cleaning up my mental space. So, I carved out a Sunday afternoon, emptied my entire closet, and KonMari'ed my wardrobe away. What you do is take everything out, put it all on your bed or floor, and then pick each item up, hold it, consider it, and if it doesn't immediately make you feel good, toss it. I used my favorite longline tee as a joy barometer because it's the style of shirt that has gone on to inform my 20-something style. If the item I picked up made me feel as comfortable and happy as that T-shirt, it stayed. If not? It went into the trash bag. Kondo advises thanking each tossed item for the joy it brought you, which proved to be quite a silly chore, but also kind of refreshing. I've always had this weird fantasy of inanimate objects having feelings and, like, how sad it would be to be a T-shirt that doesn't get worn—like your whole life's purpose goes unfilled! Anyway, thanking the clothes I tossed was oddly cathartic.

When all was said and done, my cutthroat approach to KonMari—which consisted of not thinking too much about the nostalgia associated with an item—yielded two full trash bags of clothes to donate. Immediately, my closet felt lighter and more bearable. It still does. Whether it's fashion or interior design, presentation is huge for me. I'm a true believer that a messy room equates a messy life, and the organized closet situation I'm currently learning to live with has reaffirmed that belief. I've been more focused at work and more confident in my outfit choices. The KonMari method validated that inane idea by forcing me to not only look at but hold close each piece I decided to keep. Of course, what brings me joy today will change in six months, which means I'll never stop tidying. But, if that's what it takes to feel a little more confident and clear-minded, then so be it.

In fact, I may start KonMari'ing the rest of my life. Next stop? "Friends."

Kidding! Maybe.

My closet is split in two: one side for hanging clothes and another for folded items. Before applying the KonMari method, I didn't have enough hangers to store all my clothes, which was no fun.

Here is the left side after I got rid of the items that did not bring me joy. There's a sizeable space on the right left to be filled. (More shopping!) Kondo advises hanging clothes by length, with the longest at the left and shortest to the right. I modified that idea to fit my previous system, which divides my closet into different types of clothes: hoodies, pullovers, sweaters, long-sleeve tees, short-sleeves, button-downs, and dusters. Those individual sections are then organized by color. It's a lot, I know.

The right side is reserved for jeans, pants, shorts, gym gear, underwear, socks, and comfy clothes. When I originally moved in, I thought this would be a cool way to organize clothes to look like a store. Laziness squashed that idea fast.

A very stressful pile of clothes.

I found this in a pocket, though!

Once I finished seeing which piece of clothing brought joy and which didn't, I organized everything into categories. Of course, they were then further organized by color.

There's that store-like presentation I longed for. Plus, a whole new, empty bottom shelf for shoes.

Two trash bags to donate, coming right up!