Everyone’s talking about it, from your Facebook friends to your mother’s book club. Popular organizing and cleaning trends include the One-Year Rule, Marie Kondo method, and Swedish Death Cleaning. But are these trends just another craze, or do they actually work? Which one works best?
Don’t worry. Lauren with the Takl team here, and I’ve done the hard work for you by testing them all to find out.
The First Step
There is one first step that all good tidying methods share: make a list so you can get it done! Life gets busy, which causes us to forget certain chores. Sometimes they repeatedly slip our minds and then never get done. Write down your to-do list and track your progress. This helps you keep tabs on what needs doing and gives you the satisfaction of crossing off those chores once and for all.
The One-Year Rule
Let’s start with an easy one. This method comes highly recommended by donation stores like Goodwill. It’s the simplest of the tidying methods I’ve encountered. The One-Year Rule is this:
If you haven’t used an item in a year, let it go.
You don’t have to apply this rule to the cocktail dress you pull out on occasion or your luggage set, but that guitar you got five years back and still can’t play? Time to let it go. If this rule applies to things you still struggle to part with, let’s talk about other ways that can help you determine what to keep.
KonMari — Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” Method
The massively popular Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo introduced the U.S. to the petite Japanese organizing guru who’s one tough cookie when it comes to clearing clutter. Her KonMari method outlines a series of steps to tidy by category and to keep only those items that “spark joy.” Here are the basics of the method:
Keep only what sparks joy.
Alright, so what does this phrase you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed actually mean? It means you should hold on to what you truly treasure and not keep things out of guilt or fear. Don’t get too excited, though. That’s not an excuse to take all your laundry, cleaning products, and tax forms to the dump. The good news is that there's another nifty way to make your chores disappear.
The KonMari method does, however, say goodbye to waste and guilt!
Start by putting all objects from a like category together in a pile. This allows you to see exactly how much you’ve amassed, something we don’t always realize when objects are spread throughout the house. If you find yourself getting stumped on what sparks joy, start with something easy– either something you know for sure you want to keep, or something that’s an immediate “no.” Separate your “keep” and “haul away” piles. If you need to make an “undecided” pile to start, just remember to come back to it later. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you’ll likely find it much easier to make a decision about those items.
Marie Kondo also teaches you how to let go of the guilt associated with purging. If you don’t want to keep something, but feel like giving it up “would be a waste,” reframe the way you view the process. That fuzzy sweater you haven’t worn since college, while still in good shape, would better serve someone who will actually wear it. Otherwise, it just collects dust in your closet. Replace feelings of guilt with feelings of gratitude. This is why you see people thanking their clothes on Tidying Up. The words are less for your sweater and more for you. Thanking the sweater for the comfort it gave reminds you that this object has served a positive purpose in your life. Now it’s time to let it help someone else. Even in the case of Aunt Susan’s creepy clown doll, let it go with gratitude. It taught you that clowns just aren’t for you.
If you’re wondering whether the KonMari method actually works, I’m here to tell you that it does. Since starting, I’ve cut my book collection in half (and I really, really love my books), reduced my wardrobe by one entire under-the-bed storage container, and even have free space in some of my drawers. I thought I had already done a pretty good job parting ways with my excess things when I moved out of my parents’ house and into my first apartment. It wasn’t until they decided to downsize that I realized how much I left behind! I had to clear that stuff out, and fast. That’s why Kondo decrees that you can’t keep things at your parents’ house. Putting junk out of sight isn’t the answer. Parting ways with it is.
For more on the KonMari method, read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up or watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. Need some help organizing your place? You don’t have to go it alone. Find help for organizing, moving boxes and furniture, junk removal, and more.
Swedish Death Cleaning — Not as Morbid as It Sounds
This might sound like some kind of intense Swedish cleaning tournament, or the cleaning you do while listening to Swedish death metal, but Swedish Death Cleaning is neither of these things. This method challenges you to think about your objects not in terms of what they mean to you, but what they will (or won’t) mean to others.
Swedish Death Cleaning starts with these questions:
1. What happens to all of your things when you’re gone?
2. Where will they end up?
3. Who will handle those things, and how will they feel about what you left behind?
As we age, or our circumstances change, we find ourselves with less time, less space, or less ability to tidy up. At 27 years old, I’m not preparing for retirement yet, or a trip to the great beyond, but I still found this method helpful to think on.
Swedish Death Cleaning helps you tackle all those items that might make you happy, but don’t bring joy to others. Consider it a follow-up practice to the KonMari method. For example, after purging my stuff from my parents’ home, I kept just a few things including a scrapbook of articles I wrote for my high school newspaper. While I intend to keep this scrapbook for myself, I’ll probably part with it in my later years. If my great-grandkids don’t want to read my high school review of the Dragonball Evolution movie, that’s okay. The world will probably be better off forgetting that film. My scrapbook can go in a box labeled “toss when I’m gone.” Margareta Magnusson, author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, recommends doing exactly this for items that mean something to you, but not to others.
The TL;DR Version — Or What All These Methods Have in Common
1. Make a list.
Remember it, get it done, and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off your to-do list.
2. Start with what’s easy.
If you feel overwhelmed from the beginning, you won’t make much progress. Start with the easy tasks first. There’s also strength in numbers, so find help for the tougher jobs on your to-do list.
3. Clear it out. Clear it out. Clear it out.
Seriously. That Y2K survival CD Rom is no longer relevant. Bag up what you don’t want and have it hauled away.
The Key to Keeping Things Tidy
Once you’ve got everything sorted, how do you keep it all neat?
All of your items should have designated places. When you routinely put them where they belong, your home stays neater and you spend less time cleaning up later. You can put designated organizing and cleaning times on your calendar to maintain your progress. Recurring cleaning jobs also help you stay on top of things by freeing up your time.
That said, even tidying experts need a helping hand every now and then! Life happens. Whether you just need a little help, or a whole lot, getting the house in order doesn’t need to cause stress. Use Takl to find local help for cleaning, organizing, junk removal, and even custom chores. Find help as soon as the very same day in most markets.