Marie Kondo may look sweet, but as one of the homeowners on her new Netflix series, Tidying Up, puts it, “underneath, you mean business.”
The Japanese organization guru and bestselling author, who gives her tips for tidying in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, owns her toughness, too.
“I’ve heard that before,” she says of her duality. “You know, usually I’m pretty, floating about, fumbling around, but when it comes to tidying, I kind of sharpen up a little bit.”
So, it’s no surprise that the tasks she sets her clients, are a mix of joy-sparking and cringe-worthy.
“I think the majority of people want to try pulling all of their clothes out, and creating a mountain,” she says of the most popular and first task in her KonMari method in which the homeowners take absolutely everything out of their closets and dressers and pile them on their bed.
The pile forces them to come face to face with just how much stuff they have — often an eye-opening moment in a show that doesn’t traffic in high drama. And, seeing their closet and dressers completely bare teases what living more minimally might feel like.
“You immediately see your closet looking better and it’s something that makes you very happy,” Kondo says.
Not ready to dump out your wardrobe? Kondo gives her seal of approval to a few baby steps.
“If tackling the whole of clothes is daunting for you, I would suggest subcategorizing,” she says “So today, you can just tackle the tops, and the other day, you can do the bottoms.”
Need an even easier start? “A little thing you can do to just make a bit of a difference is refolding all of your socks,” Kondo suggests. “Go through all of your socks and see which ones really spark joy for you, and just carefully fold everything and see what a big difference it can make.”
The toughest tidying task, she says, depends on the person, and it might not be what they expect.
“Some people cannot let go of clothes, not matter what. For others, it’s books. Sometimes, it’s a collection of sneakers,” she says. One homeowner on Tidying Up had a collection of Christmas decorations so vast it had turned her rec room into a storage unit.
But this show isn’t Hoarders, and it’s not about shaming those who wish to follow the path of tidiness.
Instead, her clients seem to learn about themselves and even improve their relationships through the often-month-long purge. “What makes my method extremely interesting, I think, is that what you want to protect, what you value, becomes very clear throughout the process,” says Kondo.
Despite having sold 8 million copies of her cult-favorite first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, worldwide since it’s 2011 release, Kondo says she was still shocked about the immediate impact of the Netflix series.
“Of course it was my hope that as many people as possible would watch the show, but this is so much more than I expected. It’s so wonderful to see everybody actually put into action my methods after they see the show. That’s what I love to hear.”
Want to dive in and KonMari your whole house, or simply learn the correct way to fold a t-shirt? (Hint: It’s not how you’ve been doing it.) Pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE for Kondo’s 10 tips for a tidier home.