Two Decluttering Methods Explored KonMari vs 4 Boxes

decluttering methods explored

In this post, I’m going to explore 2 decluttering methods that will help you to declutter and organize all aspects of your life.

Decluttering your home and life is one of the most wonderful things you can do. As you declutter, you start feeling less anxious, forward-looking, and happy.

Psychological studies show that clutter is a major cause of anxiety in most people, so it makes sense that decluttering your life will make you feel better.

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What Method to Choose?

It can seem overwhelming to even think about getting started. You can declutter using a variety of methods, here is a list of the most popular.

  • KonMari Method™ – more detail further on in this post.
  • 4 box decluttering method – I’ll be going into more detail on this method in this post.
  • The Minimalist game – letting go of a predetermined number of items per day.
  • 30 Day Declutter Challenges – there are numerous 30-day challenges if you search on the internet. They are popular to join in January.
  • Anti- Procrastination Declutter Challenge – choose 10 Spaces to declutter then take 10 minutes in each space, this adds up to 100 Items decluttered in a short space of time.
  • Packing Party – pack all your belonging in boxes as if moving. Live with the boxes for a few months and see what you remove from the boxes. Stuff that is still in the boxes after a few months are deemed unnecessary can then be donated or sold.
  • Swedish Death Cleaning – this relates to a book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. Briefly, the process involves clearing out necessary belongings from your life, and discussions about what we leave after we die.
Decluttering Methods

Four Box Decluttering Method

It’s called the Four-Box Decluttering Method or the 4 Container Method, and it’s one of the easiest ways to declutter.

related:How to Declutter Knick-Knacks: A Comprehensive Guide

This method is precisely what it says. You use four containers to declutter any room or area.

The four containers should be labeled as follows:

  • Trash – This is actual garbage. It cannot be sold, given away, or reused in any way.
  • Give Away or Sell – This box is for things you will not keep but are in good enough shape that you can either give away or sell them.
  • Storage – This is for items that you do not use every day, but you do not want to part with. These items need to be put in storage like your attic or basement. It likely includes items such as out-of-season clothing, holiday decorations, and other seasonal items
  • Put Away – These are the things you’ve decided to keep. These are items used regularly, if not daily. They all need a good home they will stay organized in, so your home will not look cluttered. For this reason, this box should be the smallest.
advanced decluttering tips

Tips for Making the Four-Box Method Work for You

Think Outside the Box – Some items could be too large for the boxes above. That’s okay just use a sticky note to label it one of the four labels above.

Plus, consider alternative storage methods. For example, if you have a lot of artwork from your kids, why not have it scanned so you can save it digitally?

Set Some Rules – For clothing, if you have not used the item in a full year, you probably never will. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. If it’s out of style, get rid of it. Even if it’s a gift.

If it’s something memorable like your wedding dress, consider alternative ways to remember. Setting some guidelines or rules before you start decluttering will help.

Break Up Sets – It’s tempting to keep entire “sets” of things even when you never use it.

For example, if you have a Magic Bullet set that came with seven containers, but you typically only use two of them, why keep them all?

How to Get Started with the 4 box Method

With this method, you just do one room at a time, sorting the items into the correct box.

Once you have done room you need to

  • put every item away in its proper place in your home
  • immediately put the trash out into the garbage bins.
  • donate, sell, or give away the stuff.
  • clean the room.
  • stand back and admire your new decluttered space.

Set Time Limits in Each Declutter Session

It is very important that you set a time limit for each room so that you have enough time, in the end, to deal with each box adequately.

If you try to do too much in one session, you could end up becoming overwhelmed and in more of a mess than you started with.

4 Box Method Disadvantages

There are some disadvantages to the method, if you have a lot of clutter to deal with you can easily become overwhelmed with this process.

The sorting boxes themselves are in my opinion clutter in themselves.

You need to have a plan so you know where all the items you want to keep will go, and a way of removing unwanted stuff from your home.

Kon Marie Decluttering Method

One of the most popular decluttering and organizing methods that is in the news right now is The KonMari Method™.

If this method interests you then I recommend reading her best-selling book book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

marie kondo book
life changing magic of tidying up by Marie kondo

You may also have seen Marie Kondo, in the popular show on Netflix called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” which is inspired by her bestselling book

declutter then organize

Organize by Categories

The KonMari Method™ uses the idea of categories to get organized instead of just going room by room.

For example, Marie recommends you start with the category of clothing, and then you’ll work on books, papers, miscellaneous items, and then lastly sentimental items.

You can make the categories as small as you like for example, just spend a couple of hours sorting through your sock collection. Allocate a drawer for the socks and fold them neatly.

This video Demonstrates the sock folding technique.

As you sort through items you touch each thing, keeping only what continues to “spark joy.”

If the items don’t still spark joy, you are supposed to thank them for their service and let them go, either to a new home or the trash.

This is an excellent method for decluttering because it relies on categories instead of where things are kept.

The reason it works is that in each room, you often have many categories of items that are hard to find or contain.

how to decide what to keep

Create a Home for Each Catergory

If you create a home for each thing and only keep the things that are useful and joyous to own, you’ll need less storage and everything will be easier to find.

Plus, by starting with clothing first, you’re tackling one of the things that often cause bottlenecks in the morning when getting dressed and out the door.

By ending with sentimental items, you will allow your mind to adjust to letting go before you even get to those items.

decluttering strategies

Tips on How to Start Tidying the KonMarie Way

  • Declutter First – Take everything out so you can look at it, touch it, and remember it. Toss the trash, box up items you are donating and put away the items you’re keeping neatly.
  • Understand Your Space – It can help to take a picture before you start decluttering, and then one when it’s empty so that you can understand the space and find a good home for each thing.
  • Start Tidying with Your Clothing – Most people have too many clothes, so it’s a good place to begin letting go, finding a home for things, and practicing feeling joy and gratitude.
  • Touch, Remember, Feel Joy and Gratitude – When you are decluttering, touch each item, remember what you did with it, and feel joy and gratitude for each thing. If you’re keeping it, it’s due to joy; if you’re giving it away, it’s because you’ve got all the use out of it you can
  • Find a Home for Everything You Keep – When you put things away, since the things you keep are special and bring joy, store them in a way that makes them seem special. Everything in a home has a place
  • Learn to Fold Marie’s Way – This is a good folding method to learn because you can store more clothing in smaller areas without messing them up when you look for them.
  • Work on Sentimental Items Last – Go through all the categories of items and only touch the sentimental items at the end. It can take months of going through the method before you get to this, but when you are ready, it won’t be as hard.
  • Take Your Time – You don’t have to do this in one weekend if you don’t want to. You can take your time and work on each category through time. The great thing is that your kids will learn this method by watching you and do it too.

Personally, I just love this method, I tried it with clothes and books and it really works. I still fold my socks and sweaters and keep them neatly in drawers 3 years later.

I can, however, see that this method is not for everyone. So many people don’t get the “spark joy” idea thinking it to be some new age mumbo jumbo.

Before you dismiss this method just give it a try. Remember you are tidying by categories, not rooms or areas in your home.

To find out more about Marie Kondo’s system I would definitely recommend reading her books you can buy them from Amazon HERE.

Alternatively, hop over to Youtube and search for “KonMarie” there are hundreds of videos that take you through the system. {Warning these videos are very addictive}.

Kon Marie has her own website HERE


I hope you have had success with the decluttering method you have chosen. Whatever you choose please make sure you do everything in small manageable chunks to prevent “burnout” and becoming overwhelmed.

As you go through the process of decluttering I really hope you find that your life will be improved in all kinds of different ways.

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decluttering methods 4 boxes vs kon marie