Marie Kondo Reveals the Secret to Actually Finishing Tidying Up — Plus More Tips!
Because dumping out all your drawers is only step one. Here's what to do next
‘You changed my life,’ is a proclamation you hear a lot if you hang around Marie Kondo.
The Japanese author’s KonMari method of organization has acolytes the world over—and with the debut of her new eight-episode Netflix series, Tidying Up, they’re quickly growing in number. Since the show’s debut on January 1 (prime resolution season), the petite and soft-spoken guru has inspired memes, drawn critical analysis, and sparked plenty of joy — the central tenet of her method — among viewers.
When Kondo’s cult-favorite first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, debuted in America in 2014, it topped the New York Times bestseller list for 69 weeks. It’s been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. Its promise: If you organize your house correctly once, you’ll never have to do it again.
If you’ve fallen victim to get-clean quick schemes before (think binging on storage boxes and vacuum-sealed bags) or are addicted to the instant gratification of one-hour TV redos, Kondo has one major piece of advice that will change how you think about getting it done.
Take your time.
Tidying Up doesn’t follow the frantic timeline of many makeover shows, and neither should you. “We can’t just focus on tidying all the time,” Kondo tells PEOPLE. “We lead busy lives, we raise children, we have work.”
A typical full-house cleanup, she says, should take “roughly a month.” Her longest, took two years!
And don’t force it. Someone who doesn’t want to tidy, won’t do it properly, she says. “Tidying is an opportunity to reconsider how you like to live. You’re evaluating your things. You’re evaluating your life, so if it’s not your time, if you’re not there emotionally, then that’s not something that can be forced upon you.”
Here are nine more tips to start (and keep on) tidying, straight from the master.
Clean by Category
Kondo is vigilant about the order in which tidying should occur. Rather than going room by room, she says, start with clothes, then books, paper, komono (kitchen, bath, garage and miscellany) and finally sentimental items.
Thank Your House
“If you think about it, a home is what enables us to live a healthy, productive life. It protects us. So it’s really a natural thing to express gratitude to it,” Kondo explains of the mindful practice that she and her clients take part in before starting a project.
Ask If It Sparks Joy
The principal that helped spread Kondo’s tidying gospel is that belongings shouldn’t be judged by how often they’re used or their value alone. Instead, she instructs, pick up each item you own and ask yourself if it “sparks joy.” If it does, it stays. If it doesn’t, it goes.
Say Goodbye to Your Stuff
Kondo’s recommendation that you should thank items for their service to you before tossing them in a garbage bag or donation pile relieves some of the guilt a big clean out can bring.
Be (a Little) Sentimental
Kondo’s passion for storage comes into play in this final category. “Photos are very daunting to tackle,” she admits, suggesting stowing them in boxes or albums and placing them where you see them regularly in your home.
Let Go of the Big Reveal
There are no blindfolds at the end of an episode of Tidying Up, but there are often tears. “It’s the families themselves doing the hard work,” says Kondo. “Their dedication, I think that’s what moves them.”
Keep It Clean
“Reducing the amount of stuff in our space also reduces the amount of dust, and we actually clean more often,” says Kondo.
Get to Know Yourself
“What you want to protect, what you value becomes very clear, throughout the process,” says Kondo. The side effect? You learn just as much about yourself as you do what’s in the back of your closet.
Start Small (it’s Okay)
“If you are able to feel that spark of joy by implementing a part of my method, then that’s great,” says Kondo. Her recommendation: Start with your sock drawer and get braver from there.
Tidying Up is now streaming on Netflix.