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How to Start De-cluttering in a Practical Way: An Alternative to KonMari

A practical alternative to KonMari

With all of the KonMari inspiration floating around, busy women everywhere are asking, how to start de-cluttering? I want to share a practical way I was able to start de-cluttering without huge blocks of free time.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock and don’t know what I am talking about, Marie Kondo, is a Japanese professional organizer. She released a book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”  in October of 2014. The book was pretty revolutionary. It glorified having less stuff when the trend was (probably still is) bigger, newer, better, and more of everything.

Over the next year it went viral. It hit number one best seller, was being talked about on TV, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, and local moms groups. In 2019 Netflix released a series called, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and once again women everywhere are inspired to de-clutter their life.

KonMari doesn’t work for everyone

The problem I see with the KonMari system, is that you’re supposed to do your whole house in a short period of time. On the Netflix series, all I see is people taking hours a day for weeks at a time. Who has time for that?!

In my experience, if the job seems too big, you’re not even going to start.

I know of the beauty of less stuff. My family and I have been living in an RV on and off since 2009. Less stuff equals less to clean, and that brings me (and probably every busy mom) JOY

So we are left with busy women asking, how to start de-cluttering without having days and weeks set aside. Do a little bit every day. Yes, I know this will take longer. Yes, I know that Marie Kondo would argue… but progress is better than procrastination.

How to start de-cluttering in easy to follow steps

The key is to break the whole house into small enough projects that you can do one each day in less than 30 minutes. That is doable right?

1- Divide it up

Grab a notebook, and write down the rooms and areas of your house, each one at the top of a new paper.

2- Break it Down

On each page write down the smaller projects that are in that room. List each drawer, closet shelf, floor, etc. Make sure that you can clean and declutter each one in 30 minutes. So if you write down closet, ask yourself if it is possible to clean, declutter, and put it back in 30 minutes. If not, break it down into the shelf, Right side, left side, right side floor, left side floor, etc. Now you have do-able projects.

3- Make it part of your daily routine

Pick an area to start on, then pick one project to do each day. ** Bonus tip- continue working in one area each day ideally, you do it at the same time each day to build a habit. The biggest secret to this way of doing things is that you have to be consistent to see progress.

Try it first thing in the morning. It feels amazing when you accomplish something right away. Right before bed works too and you can end the day screen free, which makes it easier to go to sleep. Other times could be: as soon as the kids go to school, or right before or after a meal.

If you do it either at the same time, right before, or after something that you already do each day, it will be easier to make it a habit.

4- Sort It

Pull everything out of JUST that area and sort it. ONLY keep the things that belong there, and serve a purpose in your life. In KonMari, you keep only things that “Spark Joy”. If I did that, my house would be empty and I wouldn’t have the things I need. Be honest, does any of the utensils in your drawers give you a zing of joy?

Instead, ask yourself these questions: Do I use this regularly? How many of these do I ACTUALLY use? How often do you use all 30 cups in your cupboard, If I have a party where I need more than 10, I will use disposable. What would I do if I didn’t have this? When I moved into the camper, I realized, I didn’t need extra sheets. If I didn’t have them, I would just take them off, wash, and put them back on the same day… No reason for more! What purpose does it serve in my life? Only things that serve a purpose and make your life better, belong in your space. If it has already served its purpose, let it go.

Garbage- self-explanatory

Donate- Anything that is not garbage, and doesn’t serve a purpose in your life right now. (make a spot in your house or in the trunk of your car that is the designated donation pile)

Put away anything that goes somewhere else

5- Put it back

Clean, vacuum, dust, and/or wash the area, then put things back.

6- Check it off

Cross that project off your list, and celebrate your progress! As you see progress, you’ll be able to stay motivated to keep going.

7- Keep it up

If you are not going to keep making small steps daily, and not bringing stuff into your space without a lot of intention and thought, this de-cluttering method won’t work.

Before you buy something, ask yourself the same questions that you did when sorting. Pretend you are the court, and each item has to defend itself and prove it serves a purpose in your space.

These steps will help anyone wondering how to start de-cluttering, without having tons of free time, or brain space. There is no reason for a complicated system, all you need to get started is a notebook and pen.

Brandi Sorensen

Brandi loves crushing the myths of "normal". She is married to her college sweetheart, Ryan. They have 3 kids and a dog, and that is where "normal" ends. Her husband is a welder in the oilfield and they all live in a camper and travel with his work. She loves spreading her message of finding and creating joy YOUR way and simplifying life through speaking, and her christian mom podcast The Sister to Sister Podcast. She mentors women privately as they work through the process to design the life they want and align their thoughts, emotions, and patterns to match; then take action to make it their reality. You can find her at

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