Published on November 13, 2019

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photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Anyone can take a weekend to de-clutter their closet, reorganize their drawers, and bring a stash of things they no longer need to the nearest thrift store—they’re tasks that have become far more approachable, thanks to the teachings of Marie Kondo. But some people get a little extra help from the queen of tidying up herself. On Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, a couple lucky subjects bare their clutter to the expert, and, after figuring out what sparks joy and what doesn’t, find themselves able to breathe easier in a clean home. But what happens months later? After KonMari-ing your home, does it actually stay organized?

According to Rachel Friend, who you might recognize from the first episode of the Netflix series, the answer is yes, but not for obvious reasons. For her, the KonMari method isn’t just about a folding method or the idea that you only own (as much as reasonably possible) things that spark joy. It’s a reset button that makes keeping your home organized much more feasible.

“The decluttering process is daunting, and I felt myself getting anxious through it, but then you finish the first step and put your clothes away, and suddenly you’re like, okay, I did that,” explains Friend. “Then you tackle the second step, and the next. Miscellaneous [the final step], was the most daunting for us, and, oddly enough, as I was going through it, I thought, We got this. We already proved to ourselves in the first three steps that we could do this.”

While some might feel compelled to only use Kondo’s strategy in certain parts of their homes, tidying up here or there, Friend attributes the maintenance of her home’s cleanliness to the fact that she and her husband followed Kondo’s method step by step. Not, say, just keeping up with her folding strategy, while allowing the garage to reaccumulate clutter. For the Friend family, the KonMari technique is an all-or-nothing strategy.

That’s not to say that the method itself is something that can be done over the course of a weekend. In fact, Friend says that the longer process—tackling one step per week—helped decluttering feel more manageable. “That’s a huge reason we keep it up now,” she says.“If someone wants to take on her method, I’d suggest that they are ready to confront it head-on in those steps right off the bat. It sounds like a lot, but once you do it, that’s how you maintain it.”

Others who have embraced Kondo’s teachings have also adopted a longer timeline for their tidying. For Alina Wall and Tina Neufeld, who have been running their own 90-Day KonMari Challenge since 2017, after they first read Kondo’s book, the same strategy holds true. “In an effort to keep ourselves accountable, we decided to launch a 90-day challenge to finally tackle all the areas of our lives that have accumulated clutter,” Wall says. “By being somewhat realistic, as we juggle careers, babies, and before-and-after school routines, we didn’t want to attempt this challenge with a quick fix approach and set ourselves up for failure. A consistent, category by category, week by week, meticulous declutter approach worked and left our homes transformed.”

Still, the greatest change that can come from Kondo’s teachings doesn’t seem to deal with clutter alone. For Friend and Wall both, the philosophy, at surface level, is about tidying a home, but that ends up accomplishing an even bigger-picture goal. “It’s not just about your home. I didn’t realize how much what I felt about my home was really hindering me in other areas of my life,” explains Friend.“Once we organized, this cloud cleared. I had this boost of productivity and I felt so good about the house that I was able to do what I cared about.”

See more ore organization:
Fresh Desk Decor Ideas for a Stylish and Productive New Year
These Are the Most Cluttered Areas of a Home (and the Hacks to Fix It)
9 Things Your Bathroom Doesn’t Really Need (and What to Replace It With)