How To Organize Your Apartment Once (And Never Again)

“Organize Apartment.” It’s the permanent to-do list fixture. The recurring New Year’s resolution.

What if we told you that you could organize your apartment only once, and never again? (Which should make keeping your New Year’s Resolution a cinch.)

Well, it’s real. It has PureWow calling its creator “The most organized woman in the world,” and Fast Company calling her “The Beyoncé of Organizing.”

The method is called “KonMari,” a mash-up of the inventor’s name, Marie Kondo. She’s a highly-sought-after organization consultant/celebrity from Japan who wrote about her reliable method in the best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

While other organization experts advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach of throwing out things you don’t use, Marie encourages you to shift your mindset to the feelings your items evoke by adopting a minimalist, category-by-category technique where you only keep the items that make you happy.

The result? Everlasting organization. No really, her customers never return.

 

We recommend you order a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up here. It includes step-by-step instructions for organizing every item in your apartment so you can “enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home — and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.” When you’re done reading it, make the world a better place and pass it along to a friend.

Until then, here are seven organization tips we learned from Marie’s book that you can follow today. These tips will help you transform your apartment from “Help! The walls are closing in,” to a spacious paradise of beauty, peace, and inspiration.

1. Organize now.

“Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever,” writes Marie. We couldn’t agree more. When you organize your apartment a little bit at a time, week by week, it starts to feel like a never-ending chore. Instead, set aside time to tackle everything at once. You’ll reap the benefits of having more space in your apartment sooner.

2. Sort your items by category, not room.

“When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish. To escape this negative spiral, tidy by category, not by place,” writes Marie.

To tidy by category, collect and sort your belongings starting with the easiest items to part with and ending with the most difficult. Sort your clothes first, followed by your books, papers, komono (the Japanese word for “miscellaneous items” such as spare buttons, cords, and kitchen supplies), and then sentimental objects such as your photos and love letters.

marie kondo tidying up and sorting items into categories
Japan Realm

3. Ask yourself one question.

Once you’ve sorted all the items in your apartment, hold each item and ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If you answer “Yes,” keep it. If you answer “No,” then donate, recycle, or discard the item.

“By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle,” writes Marie. A lifestyle that involves a new roomy haven in which you’re surrounded by only love and happiness.

Heads up: If you live in New York City, certain electronics are banned from disposal. Here’s a list of recycling options for your electronics in NYC.

4. Recycle paper and packaging.

How many times have you read the instruction manual for your new laptop? When are you going to need your iPhone box? Chances are your answer is “never.” Recycle papers and packaging you don’t need. If you have bills you already paid and credit card statements taking up precious counter space, guess what? Those can be shredded. You have access to mostly everything online.

If you need to keep important documents like contracts, warranties, and insurance policies though, file them away neatly. Stylish boxes like the ones pictured below are an attractive option.

shoe box organizers
Asian Cajuns

5. Donate books.

How many books do you have sitting on a shelf collecting dust? How many of them have you read more than once? Donate those books and spend time reading the one that’ll excite you.

Pro tip: Get a Kindle so you can read and store thousands of books in only one hand.

6. Don’t keep gifts you dislike.

Got a gift you didn’t like over the holidays? Don’t feel obliged to keep it. Let your gifts go with gratitude. Thank not only the person who gave it to you, but also thank the item for the time it spent with you. Then donate the gift without the guilt. Or re-gift it to someone who you think would love it.

7. Assign a home for the items you keep.

Once you’re left with only the items that spark joy, designate a place, or what we like to call a “home” for each one. When you’re not using an item, place it in its home. Eventually, putting things where they belong, in their homes, becomes second nature to you. Organize this way once and you’re done. Forever.

Take a look at these before and afters:

Free Bonus: You don't always have time to read an entire book or blog post. So we made a quick KonMari Method Cheat Sheet that you can save on your phone and whip out at any time. Download our brand new KonMari Cheat Sheet today!

Pro Tip: Fold your shirts the KonMari way and store them standing up in a drawer. You’ll be able to store 10-20 more shirts in the same space required to hang 10. Watch this video to see it in action:

 

8. Effortlessly store the rest of your stuff in MakeSpace.

As for the items you love, but don’t necessarily need within arm’s reach, schedule a MakeSpace pickup. Unlike self-storage, we’ll pick up, store, and deliver your stuff back whenever you want.

The result: More space in your home. And more free time to do the things you love instead of visit a storage unit.

Take it from Alex Stone. We’re keeping his comic books safe and in mint condition:

 

Kondo’s book title promises to change your life. And with over 2 million copies sold, a Japanese TV drama based on the international bestseller, and a three-month long waiting list for consulting sessions with Kondo, people around the world are discovering the life-changing magic of KonMari. Are you next?

Get a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and schedule a MakeSpace pickup to enjoy an infinite closet like our friend Alex.