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Will inside-out organizing replace the KonMari method?

Make room, KonMari method. You and your genius folding hack certainly sparked joy, but a new trend has emerged, and it’s calling on us to approach organization from the inside out.

What does that mean? Popularized by best-selling author and professional organizer Julie Morgenstern, the method focuses less on creating Instagram-friendly spaces and more on a holistic approach to cleaning. Each person’s goals, habits, and needs are different, and this approach considers all of these factors.

Inside-out organizing also delves deeper into the emotional aspect of items. It doesn’t simply ask people to find items that bring them joy but understands that organizing can be an emotional rollercoaster that requires healing, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Let’s sort out how and why inside-out organizing works.

a journal, pencil, and coffee on a desk
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to organize from the inside out

The inside-out method is a customized approach to organization, but there are some basic guidelines.

Identify goals and obstacles

You won’t start by diving into organization. First, write down your goals. As you assess these goals and obstacles, consider what is currently working in your space and what you’d like to improve. Then, think about what’s getting in the way and causing disorganization. These obstacles may be habitat-related (space issues, for example) or psychological (sentimental attachment to certain items).

Strategize first, organize later

After you’ve mapped out goals and obstacles, it’s time to strategize so you can work more efficiently when it’s time to get organized. Ask yourself: What are my activity spaces, and how would I like to use them? For example, you may want separate zones for work and leisure. Refer back to your preferences and obstacles. If space is at a premium and you want room to watch Netflix with friends, dedicate the larger zone for leisure.

Organize your SPACE

Finally, it’s time to organize, keeping your goals and strategies in mind. Use the acronym SPACE as you go through items.

  • Sort. Ask yourself if you’ll use an item and how you’d categorize it (work, hygiene, etc.). Put similar items together.
  • Purge. Decide what’s staying and what’s going. You don’t need to throw out every item you don’t need. Consider donating gently-used items.
  • Assign a home. Put related items, such as X-Box controllers and remotes, together to streamline your space.
  • Containerize. Now that you’ve grouped related items, you can choose containers that would best store them.
  • Equalize. Your organizational choices are not set in stone. If something isn’t working, it’s OK to adjust.
two cardboard boxes labeled "kitchen" and "office" on a wooden table
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why the inside-out method works

The inside-out method may not have its own Netflix documentary à la KonMari, but advocates swear by it. Here’s why.

Organizing from the inside out is realistic

Though it’s romantic to think that everything in your home should spark joy, the bottom line is a razor simply may not excite you. Yet, you keep it around because you personally feel you need it. Using the inside-out method won’t make you question this decision but rather call on you to define the reason behind keeping your razor (a personal preference to remove body hair) and be OK with that.

It recognizes the emotions behind certain items

Just because the inside-out method doesn’t focus only on keeping items that spark joy doesn’t mean there isn’t a central emotional component. Inside-out doesn’t consider getting organized a festival-like event, as KonMari does, but rather recognizes that you may need to make hard choices.

The strategy asks you to take a reflective approach when assessing items. For example, a sweatshirt from an ex may fit perfectly into your dresser. However, does it really fit into your new life? When deciding whether to keep or donate the sweatshirt, you’ll answer that question, turning organization into an exercise in soul-care.

It’s individualized

Organizing from the inside out isn’t about curating a Pinterest-perfect space. Instead, it allows you the flexibility to create a home that meets your desires. It also considers obstacles you can’t control, such as space, but encourages you to find ways to organize to fit your current lifestyle. By zooming into your goals and developing strategies to meet them, Morgenstern believes you’ll increase your odds of completing the organization process rather than quitting midway through.

Organization strategies often come with a specific playbook. It can be challenging for some people to be so rigid. Space, emotions, and preferences all play into someone’s desires and definition of an organized home. Morgenstern’s inside-out organizing method recognizes the need for a customized approach to tidying up. When organizing from the inside out, you’ll reflect on your goals and desires before purchasing containers. As you go through items, you’ll also consider whether the emotional attachment to them genuinely works with your current lifestyle. Though it may be less Instagram-friendly than the KonMari method, people may find it more aligned with their lifestyle preferences.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
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