The KonMari method is a very specific process that requires an unwavering commitment and a dedicated chunk of time (she gives the example of it being an event that takes 6 months). But what if you have competing priorities and although your heart and mind say yes, your circumstances don’t cooperate. What if you can’t dedicate a huge chunk of time to a decluttering marathon. Well, I’ve got news for you! There are many decluttering methods you can turn to that will help you make the progress you’re hoping for!
Progress Over Perfection
I am a believer of progress over perfection. I would rather make an impact on my home organization and decluttering needs than wait for the perfect time to do the KonMari method as prescribed. Take my family as an example. I have two young kids, work a part-time job, and have this blogging gig on the side. I’m lucky if I can dedicate an hour or two a week to decluttering. We don’t have family nearby and the reality of having a decluttering marathon in this season of life is slim. You may not have the same situation as me, but you may have other barriers that you need to overcome. Today, we’ll unpack 4 ways to declutter if the KonMari method is not right for you.
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What is the KonMari Method
The KonMari Method is a very specific approach to decluttering. Marie Kondo shares in her book “Spark Joy” the six basic rules of tidying.
1) Commit yourself to tidying up
2) Imagine your ideal lifestyle
3) Finish discarding first
4) Tidy by category and not a location
5) Follow the right order
6) Ask yourself if it sparks joy
She insists her clients make tidying an event…a marathon is actually how she describes it. She wants people to do one major overhaul and then micro activities daily to maintain a tidy home. The KonMari method has people tidy (discarding + storing) by category instead of by room. For example, instead of tackling your bedroom and then your kitchen, she has you sort something like clothing from all of the rooms at once.
If you want to see her specific order for tidying, grab my free printable at the end of the post.
Decluttering Alternatives to the KonMari Method
Implement only the parts that bring you joy 😉
Ok, so for the KonMari diehards, this will be a tough pill to swallow, but the truth is, you can still reap benefits without doing her process to a “t”. Long before I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, I learned about the vertical filing of clothes. I took this one method and worked it through my house. While I didn’t do it all in one day or even over a weekend, I took it one drawer at a time until every clothing drawer in our home was transformed. And that was the only “KonMari” activity I did. I have plans for other things now that I’ve read both of her books, but I don’t think my current life circumstances will allow me to do them as she has described.
If there are components of her plan that resonate with you, take it and make it your own. The vertical filing made our lives easier…I could see all of my kid’s clothes and more easily help them get dressed in the morning. It even impacted the way I pack our suitcases. There was a huge benefit to our family by just implementing this one aspect. Next, I’m going to take on our linen closet, and then our books. I am aiming for progress and not perfection and my family will reap the benefits from that.
Determine the area or category that is most important to you and apply one of the four shortcut methods below. Remember, you can grab my free printable below that shares the order and categories Marie Kondo recommends.
Choose one thing to tackle. Maybe this year (yes, I said this YEAR – you can go as slow or as fast as you want…just focus on progress), you’re going to finally declutter and organize your families’ clothes. Or maybe it’s time to take on your library of books. Whatever area is the most important to you, commit to doing it this year and then set a quarterly (12 week) goal. What will you accomplish in the next 12 weeks? Will you take on your closet first or one of your kid’s closets…do you want to go through all of the summer clothes first? What is your priority and what pace works with your life’s demands?
The Hive Five
Find 5 things every day that you do not need. Try this for a month and you will get rid of 150 items…try it for 90 days and you will get rid of 450 items. It’s easy, it doesn’t require a lot of time upfront. It’s a practical way to stay on top of your clutter and over time, you can make a BIG IMPACT!
The 1 Week Wonder
The goal with this approach is to make a big impact in a short amount of time. That means you’ll need to dedicate more time upfront but will see the results sooner. While this one takes more time, I am not recommending going as far as the KonMari Method. She encourages her clients to take everything from the category e.g. clothes and put it in the middle of the room on the floor, then hold each item to see if it brings you joy. The 1 Week Wonder is kind of like time blocking. You commit to one week of decluttering work. It doesn’t have to be 8 hours a day…maybe it’s 30 minutes or one hour, you decide, but you do it consistently every day for a week.
Step 3 in the KonMari Method is to discard. Maybe you prefer not to have a daily focus like “The Hive Five” or a big goal like One Thing, you just want to get started and you have minimal time to dedicate. If that’s the case, you should check out my friend Flavia at Neat House Sweet Home. She shares a list of 101 things you can get rid of today. (spoiler alert, she even includes a free printable!)
With all of these decluttering methods, you should follow a basic process.
- Focus: Identify the room or focus area
- Vision: Get a clear vision for what you want it to look like in the future
- Criteria: Establish your criteria for the things you will keep. Will it be Marie Kondo’s “joy” criteria (which I like in many respects) or will it be something more practical, like:
- is it worn out?
- does it still have a purpose/function?
- might I or someone in my family use it someday?
- is it still in style?
- could I repurpose it for something else?
- Organize: Find a home for the things you keep. ProTip: if something doesn’t have a home, it will soon become clutter (again!) (Note: I could write an entire post on organization and storage, but for now, you can check out some of the links at the bottom of this post for a few ideas!)
- Discard: Donate, sell, recycle, or discard as appropriate (Check out this post about how to make money when decluttering)
There are many things I like about the KonMari Method. I like the permission to get rid of “useful” things that don’t bring me joy. Often I hold on to things I never use for too long because I just feel like I should. I love her folding technique and vertical storage. I find her approach to these things difficult for the phase of life our family is in. Tweaking it and using the parts that work for us has worked well. I’ve provided several alternatives to how you can go about decluttering. Choose the approach that’s right for you and don’t get stuck aiming for perfection!