In her No.1 New York Times bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo introduced the world to a new philosophy of home organization. Kondo describes the approach as, “focused on what to keep, not what to eliminate.” 

Kondo’s way of relating to the objects in a home is about connecting with items one by one. “Tidying is not about throwing out as many things as possible,” Kondo explains. “It’s about focusing on what you want to hold onto in your life based on whether or not it sparks joy.”

Marie Kondo

If you’re surveying your space and deciding you’re forever doomed to have an untidy home, take a deep breath. You’re not alone. Consider the following four common dilemmas that stand in the way of an organized home, as well as Kondo’s advice for tackling them head-on. 

1. Your storage is limited 

“Before you consider different types of storage solutions, it’s important to be aware of what you’re planning to keep,” says Kondo. “Make sure that what you have inside the home are all things that spark joy for you. Only then is it time to consider how to organize them.” 

2. Your closet is chaos 

“By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage,” says Kondo. “The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a simple, smooth rectangle, and then store these items standing upright in drawers rather than laid flat. When you organize your clothing this way, there is more space in your closet to hang things.” 

3. Your fridge is overstocked 

“My advice for tidying the kitchen is take the time to tidy all of your food,” says Kondo. “Discard items that have expired, tidy by food category, and designate a home for each thing. This will give visibility to what you have on hand. That way, you don’t amass food unnecessarily. I recommend assessing your kitchen inventory regularly so you know what’s about to expire — and can plan to replace it.” 

4. You want to get the kids involved 

“First, you as parents must finish tidying your own belongings,” says Kondo. “Second, as you tidy, explain to your children what you’re doing so they can learn from you. When you make it fun, you encourage their interest in tidying, too. Assign a designated spot for everything — and make sure that the system is clear for your kids as well."