Here are some of Kondo’s guiding lights:
Tidy once. And tidy all in one shot. This involves only two acts, deciding what to discard and what to keep. Don’t worry about where to put things until you’ve gone through everything. Ask the magic question. Hold items one at a time and ask each whether it sparks joy. Don’t think about whether it’s in or out of style, or if it fits, flatters or cost a lot. Just take a gut check. Joy is the only goal. “What’s the point in tidying if it’s not so that our space and the things in it can bring us happiness?” Kondo asks. Work by category. Don’t clean a room at time; clear a category at a time, and in this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany (komono), and, last, mementos and photos. Start with the easier stuff, because you will get better as you go. Apply the physics of folding. Think of a basket of laundry. Now picture the items in the basket folded. The mass is smaller. Folded clothes take up less space. You can fit two to four times
more clothes in the same amount of space if you fold them instead of hang them. Fold precisely, and, rather than laying items flat, store them standing up, so you can see edges.
Toss mystery cords. They will always remain a mystery and are easy to replace. With books, keep the collection small and to only what you will truly read. Discard all papers. “They will never inspire joy.” Okay, she allows a few exceptions: currently in use, need for a limited period, must be kept indefinitely. Letters fulfilled their purpose the moment they were received. About sentimental value. The hardest category, by far, are mementos and photos, which is why you do this last. “We live in the present. No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now is more important.” Yup. The promise. “Tidying dramatically changes one’s life,” Kondo says. That is the magic art of tidying.