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The Cheat Sheet to Tidying Up With Marie Kondo For Busy Families

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I wasn’t going to do it. I was not going to get caught up in all the hype about Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. But, as someone who loves taking care of all the clutter, and having a neat and clean home, I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. I was totally curious to see what I could learn, if anything, from Marie Kondo. From what I knew prior to watching, she encourages people to become somewhat minimalistic and to decide what to keep based on whether or not it really serves you. But actually, Tidying Up goes further than that. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how big of a difference some simple tidying-up can make in the lives of ordinary people. I love how when helping people tame the clutter Kondo is very mindful of the emotions involved, which is what I have always felt was lacking in shows similar to this one. As a master of decluttering, I was able to see some pretty big takeaways from Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.

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After binge watching the show, I can say that my home has never been cleaner. And honestly, I haven’t missed any of the things I got rid of, even if they felt like something I should have kept. I think it’s also interesting to note that I have heard this same thing from nearly everyone I know who has also watched the show.

I think there is something to be said for doing hard work with other people. I think there’s something so inspiring about doing things but not having to do them alone. This is the reason I think Tidying Up With Marie Kondo has been so wildly popular in recent days. It’s inspiring, but Kondo also has a way of making it feel like even I can do the thing she teaches. and that is what I think really is the magic of the show.

To follow the Tidying Up system, you don’t need any special tools, you don’t need a ton of supplies, and you don’t need anybody else there to help you. You really can do the things she tells you to do by just jumping right in and getting started.

Tidying Up really is for real people – even busy people. As a working and homeschooling mom of 9, this really resonates with me.

In fact, I might even say that using this show as inspiration has even made tidying up fun…and a bit addicting. But, that is a very good thing in most cases.

Are you ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

Here’s what I think is a pretty awesome cheat sheet to Tidying Up With Marie Kondo for busy (even working) families.

tidying up marie condo cheat sheet

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Kondo divides everything you own into five main categories or groups. While these can be taken on in any order, there is one exception. Your sentimental things must be dealt with last. This piece is essential in making sure you do this right.

Personally, I also feel that your miscellaneous things should be the second to last category. In my mind, this just makes the most sense. So for our purposes here I will put those two categories last, but know that you can put the first three categories in any order you like.

Before you start, I recommend saying this, out loud, to yourself:

“I do not need everything I currently own.”

Repeat as often as necessary as you work through this process.

It might sound silly, but honestly, it really helps.

And just so you’re aware, I did this many times.

If you’ve not read Marie Kondo’s book, you should. Check it out HERE

One last note before you get started.

You can choose whether to work on one room at a time before moving onto the next, whether to work on all the categories for one person’s belongings before moving onto the next, or whether to take on an entire category from all areas of your home before moving onto the next category.

In order to make the most use of your time, in this article here I wrote more about Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up, and as I mentioned there you should have baskets, boxes, bins, and bags all ready to put the things you’re going to be getting rid of.

With that, let’s get started tidying up!

Tidying up your clothes

Start by putting your clothes in one big pile. That way, you can see everything that you have. Once you have all of your clothes in a pile you’re going to start determining what to keep and what to get rid of.

The primary thing to focus on is to ask yourself with every piece of clothing, weather it brings you joy or not. As I’m sure you can imagine, something that you wear all the time and really love will most likely be something that you would determine does, in fact, bring you joy. And I’m guessing, this would be something you would decide to keep.

marie rondo mthod

With every piece of clothing, ask yourself if it brings you joy. If the answer is no, it is something you should get rid of it.

When this task is complete, you will have only the clothes left that bring you joy. And when you have those, Kondo is very clear on how to fold your clothes in order to make them uniform, neat, and able to take up the least amount of space.

To fold shirts, follow these steps in order to follow the Tidying Up method as Kondo teaches it:

  • Fold the sleeves in
  • Next, fold in half the long way
  • Fold in half the other way
  • Then, fold in thirds the same way
  • Finally, stand up in your drawers, edges down, so you can easily see everything

To fold pants, follow these steps according to the Tidying Up method:

  • Fold in half the long way
  • Next, fold in half the other way
  • Fold in thirds the same way
  • Last, stand them up in your drawers, edges down, so everything stays nice and neat

Tidying up your books

I will say, this is a real pain point for me. I LOVE books. And while I do re-read books, I will say that once I started working through my books as Kondo teaches, I could clearly see how some books brought me more joy than others. And, once I got started I could even see how some books no longer brought me any joy at all.

I say this to encourage the book lovers.

If you are approaching your books with an open mind and keeping the principles I shared about Marie Kondo’s approach here, I think you’ll see results that are similar to mine.
marie kondo books

One quick note of my own.

I found it easiest to put my books into categories first. For instance, all my parenting books in one group. All of my business books went into another group. And all my homeschooling books went in another group…and so on.

The reason I think this is a great idea because it actually lets book lovers see just how many books they have on the same topic. In my mind, this makes getting rid of some, and getting down to the 30 book limit that Marie Kondo suggests possible.

To tidy up your books, follow these steps:

  • Gather all your books together (maybe in groups as I suggest?)
  • Go through each book one by one, asking if it brings you joy

One other thing to note for the book lovers in the house (like me), don’t give this task too much thought. It’s an initial gut reaction. If you dwell on a book for longer than a second or two, you’ll be able to justify keeping it.

And in all reality, you’ll love having less book clutter once you finish this task.

Tidying up your paper clutter

Of course Kondo would address paper clutter since I think it just might be the worst kind of clutter.

What makes the Tidying Up system work so well with paper clutter is the way Kondo breaks it down. I have been looking for strategic ways of dealing with clutter for years, and I love this system.

As I mentioned in this post about Tidying Up here, being in the right frame of mind to get rid of things is key.

To deal with your paper clutter using Kondo’s methods, follow these steps:

  • Gather all of your papers together from one area, such as the kitchen
  • Work through each paper, putting it into one of three categories: pending (need to take action like bills or letters), important things you need to keep forever (like insurance policies, contracts), and miscellaneous (recipes and manuals…but only things you reference often belong in this category)
  • Everything else is most likely something you don’t need and should be gotten rid of

If you work through your paper clutter the true way that Kondo teaches, you should be getting rid of a ton of stuff here. I discovered that by comparison, I reduced my paper clutter by more than half. And this was after already paying pretty close attention to the paper clutter I kept.

paper clutter marie condo

Tidying up your miscellaneous things

According to Kondo, this will be your largest category simply because it is where everything goes that doesn’t belong in one of the already mentioned categories.

I will warn you that if you really want to tidy up the clutter in your home, be ready to be bold on this step.

Read this post on Tidying Up here for more guidance. It’s full of some really great things to keep in mind before you get started.

Keep in mind, your clothes, books, and papers should already be taken care of in each room before you start on the miscellaneous category.

toy organization small house

Here’s how you handle the miscellaneous category:

  • Start with one room at a time
  • Follow these steps to completion in that room before moving onto the next room
  • Take everything from the room out
  • Sort things piece by piece
  • Honestly ask yourself if each item brings you joy
  • Boxes and bins are your best friend for storing the things you’re keeping
  • Get rid of the things you’re not keeping right away

Tidying up your sentimental things

A note before you get started on this step. Allow this category to take some time. There will often be emotions wrapped up here, and for this reason this step should take some time.

In my previous post about Tidying Up I did expand on the emotional aspect a bit further. It’s a great read before you start on this step.

Here’s how to tidy up your sentimental things

  • With each item, ask if it brings you joy
  • Only keep items that bring you joy – this can be an incredibly healing process and bring closure
  • If you have things that are similar, only keep the one that brings you the most joy

Now that you’ve worked through all the Tidying Up categories, I wanted to share a few closing thoughts.

You might ask, “How do I know if something brings joy?”

Start with things that are easy to make that determination. This will condition you do knowing the feeling of joy that Kondo speaks of.

marie rondo

Once you get started, it really does get easier to know if something brings joy or not.

Similarly, once you get started the entire process gets easier.

Tidying up does take work and it does take time.

But, the result is priceless.

When you’re done, you’ll find feelings of stress and overwhelm have been replaced with feelings of peace and yes, joy.

And this is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Looking for more on tidying up? Try these!

Is Tidying Up With Marie Kondo For You?

Dealing With Toy Clutter in a Small Home

Having an Organized Home Even in a Small Home

Kitchen Counter Clutter

tidying up marie condo cheat sheet


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