The KonMari Method tried & tested: can tidying up change your life?

Marie Kondo’s book on the joys of decluttering created a buzz on its release – but has it created lasting change for our writer?

Woman following the KonMari Method of tidying up - but does it work?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As soon as I spotted Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever, I knew I needed it.

This best-selling tome promises a joyful approach to sorting your stuff, using what she has dubbed the KonMari Method. 

This was going to be tough though as I’m a naturally messy person. I avoid tidying at all costs, so my bedroom is constantly strewn with teetering piles of clothes and books, and my desk is covered in papers. I like to think of it as creative chaos, but on the odd occasion I do give it a blitz, I have to admit I feel more in control. Would this book be my answer? 

What appeals to me about the KonMari Method is the emphasis on joy, rather than the usual dull sort-through, trying to think when you last used something. Instead, Marie says, you should pick up an object, ask whether it brings you joy, and if so, keep it. Yes, even if it’s a broken bit of jewellery you’ll never get around to fixing. If it means something to you, it stays. 

KonMari Method: clothing

I start with my clothes. On Instagram I’ve seen people’s KonMari’d jumper drawers, neat little rainbows of wool, and I want mine to look like that, instead of the current creased, chaotic jumble. 

As instructed, I tip the contents of my drawers on to the bed and pick up each item, touching it and considering whether it brings me pleasure. This doesn’t always mean the item has to be beautiful. It could be a garment that allows you to do something you love, like the tracksuit bottoms you wear to run in.

I enjoy weeding out all the boring tops – they’ll go to a charity shop and a new owner who appreciates them, says Marie. 

Once I have my ‘to keep’ pile, it’s time to master the art of folding. This is a bit of a revelation. A jumper gets folded in on itself, ending up as a neat little package you can stand up in the drawer. Finally, I too have one of those photo-friendly jumper drawers. My cats approve and both jump in for a snooze. 

It turns out, though, that sorting my jumper drawer is the high point of this challenge. I struggle more with underwear. I really can’t see myself painstakingly folding my bras, knickers and tights every time I wash them. Life is really way too short, so it’s more of a slapdash job. 

KonMari Method: paperwork & books

I approve of Marie’s approach to paperwork – basically, chuck it all out. But then I get to the chapter about books. You don’t need them, she says. Pack them all up and give them away. 

Now, I’m a book lover. My living room shelves groan with books. So I make a token effort, but only weed out a few and add them to my boxes for the second-hand shops. 

KonMari Method: Charlotte’s verdict

So, have I kept up with my new tidy habits? I’m afraid to say ‘no’. The initial burst of enthusiasm didn’t last – neither has all that folding. But every so often, I sort my jumper drawer KonMari-style and admire it for a few minutes. And the cats still jump in. 

I do see the benefits of decluttering. I felt clearer headed when my home was (briefly) neat and tidy. But those boxes for the charity shop are still in my car…

Charlotte Haigh

Charlotte Haigh has been a health writer for 20 years, contributing to a range of national magazines and newspapers. She writes about all aspects of wellness, from nutrition to fitness, and has a special interest in psychedelics and mental health. Charlotte is Chair of the Guild of Health Writers, which represents leading UK health writers. In her spare time, she enjoys vegan cookery, yoga and birdwatching. She lives in south-west London with her two cats.