If you haven't heard of Marie Kondo's No. 1 New York Times best seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, then you must be living underneath a rock – or perhaps it's all the clutter you're still buried under.
The mega-hit book, which lays out a philosophical approach to cleanliness, grabbed the public's attention in February and March. It made enough of a splash that this week, Deadline revealed NBC is developing a comedy based on the book's ambitious and somewhat extreme approach to organizing.
The KonMari Method encompasses everything you own, from clothing to kitchenware to the stuff covering your bathroom counter. The illustrated guide teaches you how to declutter and organize according to one rule: Keep only those things that "spark joy" in your life and get rid of everything else. Oh, and only after thanking the items you're letting go of for serving their purpose, of course.
The book, released at the end of 2014, enjoyed a slow burn of success when it was praised by the New York Times. But it was only about six months ago that the book and its unusual method went viral — prompting lots of people to try it out themselves and document their experiences.
So how are those people's impossibly neat and clean homes holding up? We reached out to those who proudly announced their KonMari endeavors online several months ago to see just how well they'd fared.
The rigorous folding method is just plain untenable.
Holly Richmond wrote about her attempt following the book's mandates for xoJane back in March, calling it "brilliant (but also bullshit)." Just over six months later, Richmond told Mic in an email that her clothes couldn't maintain their pretty state.
"Keeping only what sparks joy has worked pretty well for me. Making regular Goodwill trips and recycling high school notes feels like a mental cleanse. It's definitely addictive," Richmond said. But the folding, which involves folding your clothes in tight little squares and storing them vertically so they're all visible from the top — socks should be stored like "sushi rolls," Kondo recommends — was not.
"[Kondo's] folding technique, on the other hand, never really stuck," she told Mic. "THAT quickly fizzled... I'm never gonna be a folder. My drawers quickly devolved back into chaos."
Where socks and underwear are concerned, Meena Hart Duerson couldn't stick with the program either. In her original post for Today.com, Hart Duerson describes Kondo's somewhat unconventional approach regarding clothing, "[According to Kondo], we transmit energy to our clothes when we fold them and that socks need to be stored unfolded so they can relax."
"Sadly, I could not maintain her advice on how to store socks or underwear, and some of my closet space isn't conducive to her rolling method, so sadly, a few stacks remain," Hart Duerson told Mic.
If you've got hoarding tendencies, it probably hasn't magically eliminated them.
The purging process hasn't been as easy for Cody Sisco. "I have had some trouble parting with books," he told Mic in an email. "I'm an author so books are very special to me and I've amassed many of them over the years. And I still hoard science magazines because I tell myself that someday I'll refer back to them during when I'm researching for my science-fiction novels."
That said, Sisco insists that KonMari has helped him narrow the categories of belongings that he hoards. "I keep books and magazines, but clothes and other possessions are pared back to the essentials."
It makes parting ways with your stuff emotionally easier.
Hart Duerson told Mic that the KonMari Method left her feeling really empowered to get rid of things that had served their purpose.
"I just got rid of a desk that I loved, actually, to make some much-needed room in my apartment, and having been through the Kondo process made it very easy to let go," she said. "When I sold it, to a girl who had just moved to New York, it made me really happy to see her be excited about starting her journey with it – and I thought of all the joy it would bring her."
And helps you appreciate what you kept.
"Her book freed me from feeling responsible for my unwanted belongings," said Sisco. "Decluttering has also made me appreciate the things I kept. Once every possession has a designated place, then there's no more effort involved in tidying. The idea of maintaining a tidy house effortlessly, once the hard work of decluttering is done, was powerful."
Richmond had a similar feeling about keeping the clutter away, telling Mic, "I'm pickier about what I buy and try to hold out for clothes and home decor I love, rather than just what's cheap."
The more bizarre organizing tips can feel weirdly good.
Kondo's book skews towards the eccentric, so people like Susan Swagler can find it difficult to get into it at first.
"Some of what Kondo encourages readers to do is a little out there," Swagler told Mic. "Thanking your clothes for their service? Really? But I ended up doing exactly that with some of the items that had sentimental value to me, and it made me smile because I felt a little silly."
And what might be odd may seem matter-of-fact to others. "My favorite organizing tip was to hang light colors and fabrics to the right to energize your closet," spiritual mentor Jennifer Kass wrote for Well+Good.
What would be the point of speaking to clothes if they didn't have feelings, right? Of the desk she sold, Hart Duerson told Mic, "It's just an object, but our objects carry so many emotions." Acknowledging that can make the actual purging process easier in the end.
At the end of the day, the main thing gained is a feeling of control.
Sisco told Mic that Marie Kondo changed his mindset.
"Her method of tidying is both an instruction manual and practical, everyday magic," he said. "I feel more in control of my surroundings. I have a more harmonious home. Her writing reminded me of Haruki Murakami's fiction and how the banal can become extraordinary with the right kind of attention."
"Everything has a place now so it's effortless in keeping the place tidy – and tidying up is joyful for the first time ever because it's so simple," Kass told Mic in an email. "I'm more efficient and effective in my daily life running a business from home."
And most of all, the sense of freedom and liberation we get from letting go of our baggage both in our inner and outer lives is a game-changer. It's priceless."