I have been on a mission over the last few months to simplify our household and by doing that I am consciously working on organizing our home. I have found that when everything has a place and that items are put away I am happier. I am by no means considered “neat and tidy,” but I am doing my best to learn about living simply. I am also trying my best to only keep items in our home that are useful and to then donate or throw the other items out that are just taking up space.
I reached out to Laura from D.Clutter to enlighten us on the “joy” that comes from keeping your home organized. With the Holiday craziness starting we bring into our homes a lot of new items from decorations, toys, clothes, etc. which also means we need to find a home for all those “things.” Read on as Laura helps break organizing down so that it’s attainable for all!
If you have ever visited South Dakota during the fall you will know that it is one of the prettiest times of year here. You can step outside in a light sweater and be completely comfortable. However, you could wake up one morning in late October to find a blanket of snow on the ground and feel like it came out of nowhere. When this happens, you will undoubtedly find men and women scurrying about their homes, in the morning, trying to find their warmest clothing; coats, hats, mittens and boots. Most people find themselves late for work because they weren’t prepared for the change in temperature (even though all South Dakotans know this happens every year), which in turn makes for a flustered, long day.
Did you know that the average American spends 2.5 days (60 hours) each year looking for lost or misplaced items?
Now imagine a morning where you wake up to see the beautiful, untouched snow on the ground. You can get dressed with ease because you know exactly where your favorite wool sweater and warm fuzzy socks are. After making yourself a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate you go to your front closet and pull out your puffy winter coat and snow boots. The weather change doesn’t affect your morning because every single item you own has a place and you know exactly where that place is.
How do you achieve this? You may have heard of the book “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Kondo is a Japanese organizational and d.cluttering expert who has sold over 5 million copies of her book, which details her KonMari (a combination of her last and first name) method for discarding and organizing. As a professional organizer with the business name of “d.clutter”, I am slightly obsessed with the KonMari method. Last year I flew to New York to take her course in tidying and am now a Consultant in training. I practice her method with all of my clients.
The goal for my clients is to create a space where everything that you keep in your home “sparks joy” and all of your belongings have a home. This way if your house gets messy it should take less than 30 minutes to put everything back where it belongs, because every item you own has a designated spot.
The six basic rules of tidying using the KonMari Method are as follows:
Commit yourself to tidying up.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
Finish discarding before organizing.
Tidy by category, not by location.
Komono (Miscellaneous Items)
Follow the right order.
Ask yourself if it “sparks joy”.
DEFINE YOUR REASON FOR D.CLUTTERING
Before starting your d.cluttering journey, the first step is to define your reason for d.cluttering.
ENVISION YOUR IDEAL SPACE
Once you have defined your reason for d.cluttering you then need to imagine your ideal space. Envision the kind of space you want to create. For me, I had envisioned clean and clear spaces (like this dining room) where your focus is on the flowers and not clutter.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” – Marie Kondo
The easiest category to start with is clothing. This is because clothing, for most people, has the least amount of sentimental value, thus making it the easiest to sort through. Start by taking out all of your clothing from your closet, dresser, laundry room, and anywhere else you might have clothing and gather it in one spot. Take each piece of clothing into your hands and ask yourself “Does this spark joy?”. If it does not “spark joy” then you place it in a box or bag to be donated or sold. If it does “spark joy” then you place it a separate pile, away from your donation pile.
Remember, you want to create a closet for your life today. A lot of people hang on to clothing because they expect to lose weight someday. Don’t keep things for someday. Don’t you think if you lost the weight someday that you would want to buy new clothes? In fact, most people that get rid of all of the clothing that doesn’t fit actually lose weight! This is because everything that they keep they love and in turn they feel confident and end up shedding some unwanted pounds.
A few things to ask yourself during this process:
Have I worn this item in the past year?
Is this item free of damage?
Does this item still fit?
Would I buy this item again?
Am I keeping this item out of guilt?
Does this item “spark joy”?
Another hang up people often have when getting rid of clothing is when the item was a rather pricey purchase. It is important to not keep things just because they were expensive. If you aren’t wearing it then don’t you want it to go to someone who will wear it? Think of it as an expensive lesson and let it go. Once you have gone through everything, organize your clothes by category; tank tops, pants, etc.. Make space in your closet or dresser for each piece of clothing. For the items that you are parting with, express gratitude to the clothing and let it go with love!
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” – Marie Kondo
Take every single book off your shelves and pile the books in one place. YES, YOU MUST TAKE EVERY BOOK OFF THE SHELVES! Why is this done, you ask? Holding each book in your hands makes it easier to feel if it “sparks joy.” This is also a great time to wipe down & clean your shelves.
Some things to ask yourself during this process (be honest with yourself):
Will you read this book again?
If you didn’t have this book, would it be in your soul?
Does this support your life today? (You are creating a library for your life today!)
Would you buy this book again?
If you were leading your ideal life, would you be reading this book?
Try to avoid opening the books during this process. A lot of people open books and start to read them and before they know it, a lot of time has passed.
Sort and store you books by category: cookbooks, work books and books for leisure. You may be surprised to find out that what books you decide to keep can actually tell you a lot about yourself. For some people they realize that their passion is health & wellness after realizing that they gravitate towards buying those books, etc. For me, it was organizing books. Go figure!
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius
Papers are the most difficult at the beginning but at the end of the day you will feel very accomplished. Again, start by taking all of your papers out of your desk and from anywhere that you have random papers and place them all in one pile. Start by going through each paper and deciding what to keep and what to discard. Papers are a little different than clothing or books in that they don’t often “spark joy”. However, it is important to identify what is important and what can be let go.
Some key things to ask yourself when going through papers:
Can I access this information online and do I feel comfortable accessing it? (Most manuals can be found online)
What is the worst that could happen if I let this go?
Organize documents into 3 categories:
Act Now (bills)
Keep Temporarily (wedding invite)
Keep Forever (birth certificate, marriage license)
Don’t forget to shred the documents that have personal information on them that you no longer need! Divide family members’ papers into piles by person.
This can be where people start to get overwhelmed. Miscellaneous items are everything from kitchen to electronics to hygiene care. During this process, gather all items in similar categories in one place. Just take it one thing at a time and always go back to Marie’s question of “does this spark joy”?
When organizing your kitchen, take everything out by category and go through the selection process.
Tools you use to cook (cooking utensils, toaster, etc.)
Tools you use to eat (dishware, silverware, etc.)
Store things that take up greater volume first. (Crockpot -> Dishware -> Utensils -> Silverware -> Seasonings)
Store the lighter things up high and heavier items on the lower shelves.
Always put the things you use less often towards the back and the things you use more often in the front!
Organizing Tip: Take as many food items, as possible, out of their original packaging and put them into glass jars. (I do this especially for foods that mice can get into like grains/seeds, chocolate chips, popcorn seeds, rice. In the Midwest, no one is immune to an occasional winter visit from a mouse.) This eliminates clutter on the eyes and makes a pantry look beautiful! Glass jars are dishwasher safe and can be re-used many times over.
Sentimental items include awards, yearbooks, letters, photos, etc. This is the last category in the KonMari Method because it can be the most emotional and time consuming. DO NOT rush this. Take as much time as you need to appreciate this. By the time you are to sentimental items you will have honed in on what “sparks joy” for you and what doesn’t.
Photos are the biggest part of sentimental items. When selecting photos you would like to keep, organize all the photos according to year. You can also save on physical clutter by taking a photo of the photo or scanning the photo and storing them digitally.
I hope that these tips have been helpful and will encourage you to begin clearing out your space!
Laura created an Organizing Your Home Checklist for us to print and use! Find it here —> KonMari Checklist
Thanks so much for reading! I hope Laura’s tips will help you organize your home into a home that is cozy and full of joy!