I was recently reading a book by Marie Kondo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” One thing that Ms. Kondo describes in her book is how to declutter and organize a closet. Rather than scouring your closet for things to get rid of, you start by emptying the closet entirely. In order for an item to be returned to the closet, it must pass a simple test: does it spark joy?

Chances are, not everything you own “sparks joy” or makes you happy. Things simply accumulate over time.They follow you through your life and fill your closets until one day you realize you’re out of room. This is just as true for your mind as it is for your closet.

Our minds are packed with the clutter of our responsibilities. Endless to-do lists sap our energy and take up mental breathing room. When trying to be more productive, a good place to start is to form a regular habit of decluttering your mind.

Take a moment and write out a list of all the things that are or will occupy your time. No matter how big or small, totally empty your mental closet. When you’re done, go through that list and ask yourself: Is this task really worth my time? Will this make me (or those I love) happy?

On a clean page, transfer only those things that pass the test. Chances are, this list will be shorter, and much more motivating. In the Bullet Journal this process is known as Migration. Every month, you take everything out of your mental closet and decide what goes back in. Who doesn’t love a closet filled with things that make you happy with room to grow?

About Ryder Carroll

Ryder is the creator of the Bullet Journal. He's a Brooklyn-based digital product designer and art director.
  • gareth

    I really enjoyed reading that book. I apply the question “Does it spark joy” to books to read, movies to watch, food to eat etc. I have a “someday” list and thanks to Marie Kondo, its a lot shorter than it was.

  • Jade Carpenter

    I was introduced to your Bullet Journal concept in the “KonMari Adventures” group on Facebook. I think your methods complement each other beautifully!

  • Beth Tognetti

    I am just finishing Marie Kondo’s book. I thought I was organized and clutter free, but she has really opened my eyes! Applying her principles, I see that so much of what (little) I have is there mainly as “scenery”. Applying the “love” test, I am shocked at how much of what I own I don’t really care about. Thanks for extending this idea to the Bullet Journal. After only 6 weeks of using one, I found that this week my mental closet is just about empty.

  • JBfromTX

    Interesting application of Ms. Kondo’s principles. Love her book! Her “Does it spark joy?” test makes so much more sense than traditional organizing/decluttering methods. Thanks for another great idea!

  • kdba

    I appreciate how you’ve tied the Konmari method to Bullet Journaling. My BuJo has been life-changing, and I just recently found out about KonMari. I’m close to finishing the book now, and looking forward to giving her method a try.

    I like the thought of applying Marie’s “Does is spark joy?” along with your “is this task really worth my time?” and “Will it make me/my family happy?” questions to my monthly tasks list. *small note: typo in paragraph 3 (the “n” is missing in what should be “mental.”)

    I had been struggling with the monthly tasks section, and not using it to full advantage. Thanks to this timely article, it just became clearer for me. Thanks! 🙂

  • I just finished the book, and I love your take on decluttering the mind as well! I created a Konmari checklist in my bullet journal yesterday and intend to start the process in my home tomorrow. I’m excited to add in this twist as well 🙂 Thank you, Ryder!

  • Marie Ugorek

    I am having some struggles with the KonMari method. I suspect some of these are addressed in her classes in Japan, but not discussed in her book and therefore inaccessible to me. Others may be due to regional differences in architecture:

    1) Stuff doesn’t really make me happy; doing things make me happy. I would be perfectly happy gardening or entertaining guests in the nude, so I end up getting rid of all my clothes and then I run out between laundry loads.

    2) But I love to teach religious education, so I would keep ALL the toys, books, craft supplies, etc. because they REPRESENT the possibility of happiness. If I get rid of more of it, I will NOT be able to enjoy the teaching that makes me happy. My husband has games, books, and teaching supplies, because playing games, reading books, and teaching makes him happy. He needs to weed a bit, but…

    3) the third “adult” in the house is an undiagnosed hoarder/clutterer with chronic depression who hasn’t actually BEEN happy in at least 8 years. Her stuff is in all but two rooms of my house, in the garage, on the porch, and in the basement, which doesn’t leave us room to spread out piles during the sorting process. We could get rid of all our stuff and still not be able to invite friends over for a game night (which would make us happy). Anyway, we wouldn’t have a game or dishes to serve snacks on, if we did that.

  • Such a simple and great question! I feel a bit overwheeled by some things and that’s a great way of sorting everything!

  • Jhenn

    I read the book a couple months ago, slowly working my way through all my belongings. While I am using my BuJo to track the process, it didn’t occur to me to apply it to my BuJo! Makes total sense when you think about it though. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I love KonMari! I recently began migrating stuff to my new BuJo for 2017, and found that I only kept a small percentage of the Collections, just what’s truly important to me. Some things work better in a digital format (I use Google Drive for those). My BuJo is very simple, but I love love love it.

  • Jan Jones

    Just found you via Kara – Boho Berry . I am looking forward to creating my first bujo for the new year, 2017.

  • I’ve listened to Marie Kondo’s book, but I never thought of it in the sense of managing your planner activities. Nice!