I Took a KonMari Consultant Certification Course — Here Are the 9 Insider Decluttering Tips I Learned

updated Apr 26, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Ever since “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” published in 2010, Marie Kondo’s five-step KonMari Method has been changing the way the world tidies. The organizing expert has demonstrated on paper and screen how to transform spaces through tidying by category — clothes, books, paper, komono (miscellany), and mementos, in that order — and discarding items that don’t spark joy, or tokimeku. And while it’s entirely possible to learn and practice Kondo’s method through these mediums, I’ve always wondered: what secrets do KonMari Consultant learn in training that make them capable of helping others, just as Kondo does?

The KonMari Consultant Certification Course is virtually available for anyone with a laptop and wifi connection. The three-day session teaches “both the principles and the power of the method,” certified Master and course instructor Caitlin Roberts said on the KonMari website. “People walk away with a better understanding of what makes this method unique and how we’ve been able to help people create major change in their lives.”

In order to teach the method on a professional level, I thought, there must be a treasure trove of tidying tips and tricks in the course that makes it worth hiring a KonMari Consultant in the first place. And after getting the opportunity to sit in on the virtual course myself, I can confirm it’s true.

While some of the tips I learned are touched upon in Kondo’s books and show, the in-depth explanations on each were worth singling out as important refreshers on the KonMari Method. By no means do these points replace the experience of hiring a consultant — as I realized through the rigorous, passion-filled training that happened during the three days — but my hope is that passing them along will help you get inspired to move through your own tidying journey while, of course, sparking some joy. 

See below for my favorite organizing tips that are Kondo-approved: 

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

1. Identify what kind of tidier you are.

During the training, we learned about three types of tidying personalities: those who want to finish tidying as soon as possible, those who want to take their time and enjoy the experience, and those who want to learn about themselves through the act of tidying. While this was brought up to recognize what kind of client the consultant is working with, it’s important to understand what your priorities are before jumping into the decluttering process in order to set realistic and desired expectations for yourself. 

A few questions to ask yourself: What has your long-time relationship been like with tidying? What motivated you to start the tidying process? What sparks joy in your life? By reflecting pre-tidying, you’ll hopefully be able to recognize what you want to get out of the process and keep focused to get through it — all while making it enjoyable. 

2. Alert your housemates about your deep tidying before jumping in.

Before you have your friends and family over, you’d probably want to let your housemate know so they can work around your plans — whether they want to join in or make other arrangements to get out of the house. This is also the case for when you’re about to start unpacking all your physical belongings. 

Before diving in, make sure that everyone who you share space with is aware that you’re about to embark on this journey. Be as detailed as possible to avoid conflict: how long the process might take, how you plan to tackle the tidying, what sentimental items you’ll be going through that could spark emotions. By having this conversation, you’re showing that you respect your housemates and want to communicate what is about to unfold, so there’s no unwanted surprises. 

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

3. Be mindful of where you do your tidying to prevent life disruption.

In order to properly follow the KonMari Method, you need to create large piles of each category, which takes up real estate in your home as you’re going through the process. It’s important to be aware of this so you can plan where you’ll be doing the tidying to reduce life disruption to the best of your ability. For example, if you’re tackling the paper category, avoid doing it on your dining room table. You most likely won’t get through it all in one day, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself eating dinner on the floor.  

4. Put your hand in the drawer to understand how you should fold.

Kondo’s folding tip is one of the things she’s most known for, which aims to maximize your storage space while making things look neat. While the actual method of folding is crucial, one thing that consultants are taught to do is understand the space where the items are being stored in. Put your hand in the drawer or container that’s going to be home to the clothes you’re folding to get a sense of its depth and width. By doing this, you’ll have a physical understanding of how you should be shaping your clothes when folding them, with hopes that it prevents (or dramatically reduces) unfolding and refolding. 

5. Avoid reading all your books when going through them. 

When it comes to books, consultants are advised to steer their clients away from reading every single one as they work their way way through the pile. The process isn’t meant to be rushed, but it’s also important to not dwell on every single item, and there are often a lot of books to keep, toss, or donate. Sometimes, looking at the front cover is enough to know how you feel about the book. Is it one that you read over and over again? Or, have you never read it before? If it’s the latter, ask yourself why you haven’t gotten to it: do you feel obligated to read the book? Or, does it spark joy and it’s definitely something you want to get to? Be honest with yourself. 

6. Create little “halls of fame” to focus on what you keep.

In order to move on from the belongings you get rid of, place your attention on the special items that you decide to keep around. A great way to do this is by creating small “halls of fame” in your home. It can be as simple as displaying your few-but-mighty travel souvenirs on a single floating shelf, or placing a favorite cookbook alongside those stylish canisters you picked up at a flea market. Create moments that remind yourself of the joy that certain items spark, and before you know it, you won’t even think about the ones that are gone. 

7. Place your books strategically around your house. 

It’s natural for you to want to display your favorite books around the house, but the words on the cover might have more emotional power than you realize. For example, you wouldn’t want to put a war book in your bedroom, where you’re trying to unwind after a long day. Be strategic when it comes to figuring out placement. 

Credit: Denise Crew/Netflix

8. Tidy digital copies that you take of discarded items.

When getting rid of items that fall under the sentimental category, taking a photo of the item you’re discarding can help lessen the blow in the moment and move the decluttering process along. However, it’s not a permanent solution because you’re still holding onto the item in some way, shape, or form, so it’s important to go through your digital receipts after you do the initial purge. Since you already did the hard part and got rid of the actual item, the hope is that the digital copy will be easier to say goodbye to. 

9. Take “Before and After” photos for your own benefit.

At Apartment Therapy, we’ll preach this all day: take those before and after pictures. In the case of KonMari-ing your home, documenting the process gives you visual evidence of all the hard work that you put in. You can show your friends and family, post on your social channels, frame it and hang it up on the wall (why not!), or just keep for your personal benefit. Tidying is not an easy feat, so keeping before and after photos will forever serve as a reminder that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.