An Organizing Pro Reveals Her 5 Best Secrets

Photographed by Erica Gannett.
Marie Kondo's best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has changed the way people worldwide approach cleanliness. With comprehensive (if a bit redundant) advice on every aspect of "tidying," Kondo's intense methodology has been uniquely impactful in the world of domestic bliss. Kondo owes it to an early-in-life fondness for all things neat, a passion that's informed some of her most memorable tidbits of advice. "When I was very young, I loved to read all the housewives’ magazines that my mother received at our home, and I think these were a big inspiration to me," Kondo told us via email. "In fact, when I was a schoolgirl, I was perhaps too tidy, and I would tidy everything and everywhere."
In the wake of Kondo's partnership with eBay, we asked the doyenne of de-cluttering for some choice bits of advice — what we're calling Kondo-isms — and have turned inward to ask ourselves how they can apply to the lives of twentysomething New Yorkers.

No item is worthless unless the item’s owner regards it as worthless.

This is a tricky one, because I basically live in a dumpster. It's not that I'm trying to live that way, just that I'm broke and know that most of my worldly possessions can and should be (hopefully) replaced one day by things I really like. Or hell, maybe I'll get rid of everything I own and live out of the back of an electric car — who knows? My point is that it can be tricky to determine the value of something, and a lot of us at this stage in life aren't necessarily equipped to decide what will and won't have value down the road.

We should thank [items] for what they have brought to our lives and get rid of them.

I can get behind this idea. It's applies to so much of what we keep and what we're inclined to keep — especially things of sentimental value. "You will feel better about giving up these items, less guilty perhaps," continues Kondo. "You will also find that you appreciate more the stuff that you do keep. " I like the idea that things serve a purpose, but also have an expiration date. Kondo suggested selling unloved items on eBay Valet or donating them to charity.

If you feel a little pulse in your body or some kind of special feeling, you know that the item sparks joy in you and you should not get rid of it.

This is where things get really spacey for me. What if my pulse quickens because I'm desperately clutching the tired remains of an entire bag of Cheetos I just inhaled because I haven't had Cheetos since I was like, 13, and holy shit, who knew Cheetos were so addictive? I kid, but if Adele has taught us anything, it's that there are definitely instances in which the heart can lead us astray.

Most people tidy room by room, but if you do this, you will spend the rest of your life tidying.

That. Sounds. Terrible. But as someone whose room on most days resembles a crime scene where a wild bear who hates laundry committed a hundred murders, I see where Kondo is coming from. The main problem is that I have only one room, my bedroom, where I can make any real changes. So am I doomed to spend the rest of my life tidying until I can afford a place of my own?

If you come home...and you feel some sort of disturbance or discomfort in your life when you open the door, then it’s quite probable that you need to tidy your home.

Can I make a disturbance in the...force? Timely! But in all seriousness, I can't think of a day when I come home and don't find myself wondering when the hell I'm going to grow up. The upside? Kondo has been there, too. "Before I established my KonMari method, I was struggling with my tidying abilities, just like everyone else," she admits. "I cleaned up my room perfectly well, yet it came back to a mess within a relatively short period. I was not yet good at tidying, but I did have a deep passion for tidying and a highly inquisitive mind for tidying best practices."
Where there's a will, there's a way. (And a book deal.)

More from Home

R29 Original Series