How To Successfully Declutter Your Home Using Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method

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Learning how to organize and declutter your home can be easy if you follow Marie Kondo's KonMari method. 

Does the idea of setting yourself a declutter challenge spark joy within you?

Whether or not you have KonMari fever, the process of decluttering your home can positively impact your life...or it can potentially and completely backfire.

By choosing to clear out the clutter in your home, you are intending to create order out of chaos. But, when things backfire, chaos wins.


RELATED: 5 Easy Ways To Declutter Your Home & Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed

Marie Kondo is everywhere! She teaches us how to get rid of stuff and how to organize things in a way that's easy to find. It's a good thing she does because we have a lot of stuff in our homes.


It's estimated that "the average American home contains 300,000 items, from sofas to salad forks," according to an article in The Boston Globe. Those things may have initially brought you joy, but now overwhelmed by your stuff, you may feel the opposite.

The ease and convenience that online shopping has provided in accumulating stuff has grown exponentially, adding to clutter storage. Being able to "buy now" at "cheap prices" and "for a limited time", coupled with "free" and "super-fast" shipping is essentially making consumers think less about the genuine 'why' they are really buying it.

We favor feeding the collective "I need this in my life now'" mantra — a dopamine rush — rather than pausing that impulse to measure our joy long term. So, as a solution, we try to learn how to declutter.

Envision your decluttered home.


Your decluttering challenge can completely backfire if you don't clarify your "why" — why are you motivated to let your stuff go and declutter your home? Knowing your "why" will help you in making decisions about your possessions during your decluttering challenge and can influence your buying decisions in the future.

Decluttering is creating space in your life in all ways, since you are curating your belongings to reflect what is truly important to you, and those things are loved and feel good to be around.

Engage your imagination to see what your home looks like after you've applied Kondo's decluttering tips to dial into your why.

  • How does walking into your decluttered home feel to you?
  • How does your decluttered home make you feel?
  • What do you see, and more importantly what don't you see?
  • What do you want to be easier?
  • What is easier now that you have decluttered?
  • How does having a decluttered home function differently?
  • What changes in your life will be supported by decluttering?

Taking the time to envision, create, and generate positive images and feelings is your big picture "why". It’s possible that you will experience benefits that are even better than what you are imagining or that you can think of.


Pre-paving your vision of successfully completing your decluttering challenge goes a long way to averting a backfire, so it's time well spent.

In order to avoid your decluttering challenge backfiring, even before you start, you will benefit from assessing the task at hand.

Underestimating the quantity and quality of your clutter plus the time you have allocated to do the work, are the key factors in your declutter challenge succeeding.


It's possible that you have guesstimated what clutter is where in your home, so you have something of an idea of what you will be facing. Taking a trip through your home, seeing and assessing your clutter first hand can help you formulate your plan of action.


You can calculate the quantity of clutter in relation to your home by doing the following:

  1. Make a list of every room and area of your home.
  2. For each room and area, assign a percentage of clutter in the space.

For example:

  • Master Bedroom: 30 percent
  • Kitchen: 25 percent 
  • Garage: 80 percent
  • Storage closet: 95 percent

And so on.

In the percentages for each of the rooms or areas, what constitutes the clutter?

Using a KonMari method checklist, you would sort your clutter into one of these categories:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Miscellaneous or Komono are: general clutter, kids, office, cleaning, kitchen, decor, garage, and bathroom
  • Sentimental items

Knowing where and what the bulk of your stuff is will help you assess where the bulk of your time will be spent.


Therefore, it is easier to decide what areas to deal with first, prioritize your efforts and maximize your efficiency.

RELATED: 13 Underrated Ways To Declutter Your Life (& Your Mind)


How deeply invested are you in your clutter, emotionally? Knowing that determines the quality of the clutter and how easy or hard it will be to deal with it.

Your emotional investment tied to the things you have in your home, both positive and negative, play a vital role in whether this process will go smoothly or completely backfire.

Since Marie is not standing by your side while you find what sparks joy, you will need a strategy to deal with it. Whether it's dealing with the emotional things in portions or enlisting a friend to support you as you do that or in one fell swoop.


The sentimental photos and mementos being the final step of the Konmari method is strategic because 90% of the decluttering is done by the time you get there. In the process, you have strengthened your resilience to clutter and bulked up your decision muscles, yet this can waylay any declutter challenge.

The emotions potentially triggered by all of the photos, mementos, keepsakes, and gifts can make you question all of your decluttering decisions to this point, and turn you towards complete backfire.

That is why having someone supporting you and helping you reconnect with your why can get you back on track and help you mitigate these challenges.

When setting yourself a declutter challenge, you need to be committed and clear about your rules of engagement.


Ending up with a mountain of maybe's is re-routing you from creating a clutter-free home to a completely backfiring. Saying "yes" or "no" to an item is fairly black and white and when it’s obvious — and it feels easy peasy.

Your parameters could be as simple as, it has value, it's functional and operational, and you are happy to have it and you love it. If the opposite is true, then it's a clear "no".

When you are fresh and enthusiastic, being definitive about 'yes or no' designations is simpler. However, as you begin to accumulate a pile of 'maybes' or clutter limbo, instead of things being either black or white, you enter into a grey area.

A decluttering challenge can backfire when 'maybe' becomes your default decision about your stuff:

  • "Maybe one day I'll make a quiche."
  • "Maybe I might need it in the future."
  • "Maybe I'll keep it to pass along to someone else who might need it in the future."
  • "Maybe it was a gift and you'd feel wrong in letting it go."

How often do you say "maybe" in your life, when you'd rather say "no"?

The use of "maybe" in our lives is a way of avoiding choosing either a "yes" or a "no". The truth is that, if it was a clear "Yes!", you wouldn't be in this dilemma, it's having to admit it's a "No", that trips us up.

We can perceive ourselves as being kinder and more polite by telling someone "maybe" when we really want to say "no".

Why? Because, in the moment, we don't want to have to justify our decision, and it's easier to decline in the future, than on the spot.


The same thing applies to your stuff. Of course, it’s possible that you might make a quiche or might need that thing in the future, but that's pretty vague.

The moment you start negotiating with yourself in ambiguous terms so that you can talk yourself into a "yes" answer, is another way of veering towards a backfire.

Keeping those "maybes" only means that you are creating a clutter limbo for yourself in the present, only to have to double back in the future.

Perhaps you know there are things in another area of your home that you will easily be clear and concise about; go sift through that, then come back to the maybe pile with fresh eyes. This way you can capitalize on that momentum and renewed enthusiasm.


To avoid your decluttering challenge completely backfiring, make the process easy on yourself:

  1. Be honest about your stuff. Does it fit your rules of engagement?
  2. Give yourself permission to choose and honor yourself by making a definitive decision. (Like when I let go of my wedding dress.)
  3. Don't look for joy where there isn't any.
  4. Revisit what your decluttered home vision looks and feels like.

What do you do with the "no's"?

As you admire the piles of clothing and household items you have decided no longer suit you or your home, what is your plan?

Before starting your decluttering challenge, knowing what to do with all of your ‘no's’ beforehand helps you avoid a backfire and there are 4 ways to do it.


1. Donating

Your decluttering challenge benefits you and your space and can also be beneficial to your local charity. 

Goodwill states on their website, "Before giving your gently used items to us, ask yourself if you would give it to a relative or a friend. Our shoppers are looking for quality second-hand goods and disposing of items we can’t sell costs a lot of money. Every dollar we spend disposing of unusable donations is a dollar we cannot spend on our services to the community." 

Making a donation to a charity makes you feel good and you can feel even better when you know what their needs are and what items they don't need. You are keeping your clutter out of the landfill by donating it (well done), knowing you can also keep your donation/clutter from becoming their trash is even better.

Since over 80 percent of clothing donations may end up in a landfill, the effort you put in now to learn who can put your stuff to good use rather than garbage notches up the feel-good vibe. A quick internet search or phone call can help you allocate what goes where and how best to get the articles to them.


Sometimes learning that the very things you have deemed as 'still good', may not be good enough for charity can veer your decluttering challenge toward backfire. Looping back to the "gray zone" and thinking that "maybe" you should just keep the stuff since it can't be donated, is defeating your "why".

Take a moment to review and reconnect with your vision to redirect yourself to decluttering challenge success.

2. Reselling

Whether an actual garage sale or posting on an online selling platform, you are solely responsible for getting your goods advertised and in front of potential buyers.


The upside is that you keep all the money you make (unless you pay for priority placement); the downside is that you don't know how long it will take to sell.

This approach is definitely viable as long as you have an expiration date; as in how long will you advertise until you accept no one is giving you $10 for your like-new pasta maker? Keeping your "I'm selling this" pile indefinitely defeats the declutter challenge, because your clutter has not left the building.

You need to determine how important it is to sell the stuff (future) versus getting it out of your home (present) is part of your process. It is possible to combine those two key conditions by finding the most perfect re-sale, used and consignment store that meets your needs.

3. Sell them to used retailers

Resale, used, and consignment shops are becoming more and more popular as a way to recycle and rejuvenate homes and wardrobes. As the person who is providing them with inventory, you have to remember that not everything you feel is perfectly sell-able is.


Just like any retailer, they stock their shelves, racks, and showrooms with the items they know will sell and doing your homework as you did with making donations, can save time and energy.

Backfiring can occur when you overvalue what your stuff is worth and therefore price things out of the market and may lead you into a clutter holding pattern. 

Compare and contrast all selling options available and determine which is the best route for you that supports your decluttering challenge.

4. Send them to the curb 

We are running out of space for our garbage and even if we donate things to charity it may end up in the landfills anyway. But the curb doesn't mean its destined for the dump.

  • You can post your things for free on selling marketplaces.
  • Around the globe, it can be normal for people to leave stuff on the curb and people street shop.
  • Many communities host flea markets that you can set up at.
  • Ask your own social media tribe if someone wants or needs what you have.

For the things that you simply cannot fathom nor do you want someone else using, owning, wearing or otherwise, the trash is the only option.

Finding an alternative to adding to the landfill may not be easy, but it’s worth it. The benefit goes beyond the earth as it gives you a broader context about what happens to the stuff you buy when you are shopping the next time.

Keep in mind that decluttering is a learned skill and may not be a one and done challenge on your first go. 

A decluttering challenge raises our awareness about what we want in our home and affects our decision making when we are being a consumer.


You may find yourself decluttering layer by layer as you hone your skills until you get to your ideal vision of what a clutter-free lifestyle and home looks and feels like to you.

RELATED: 50 Marie Kondo Quotes To Inspire You To De-Clutter Your Life (Both Mentally & Physically)

Sherry Trentini is a Life and Grief Coach. She helps people let go of whatever they are holding onto, that may be holding them back, and to reclaim and re-invest that energy into re-envisioning their dreams and lives overall.