Aspirations and necessities. Everyone’s got their priorities organized in these two buckets. One mistake people make is putting a tidy home in the “aspirations” category. To be honest, I didn’t realize that a clean home belongs in the “necessities” category until I read Marie Kondo’s book.
A tidy home directly correlates with your personal well-being. Coming home to a messy house after a long day adds things to your subconscious “to-do” list and makes it hard to relax. Marie’s book is full of useful treasures, but I’ve summarized some main tips for a happy and healthy home:
1. Dedicate time for the weekend
If you’re ready to transform your life, the very first step is allocating the right amount of time for it. I would recommend trying to knock out your tidying on a weekend. For those of you with kids, get a babysitter or set up a play date so all your efforts and energy are in the project.
When I took my first step toward a decluttered life, I was completely overwhelmed. I kept thinking about how much time I would be wasting trying to initiate this lifestyle. However, after I got into the rhythm, tidying became part of my daily routine and I barely noticed.
2. Tidy by category
Breaking down your cleaning spree by category will keep you sane and save you time. Konmari suggests tidying your life in the following order:
First, put every article of clothing, all purses and pairs of shoes on the floor. Start with seasonal clothing and decide what you can live without. If you feel yourself contemplating on items, chances are that you can live without them. Separate items into a “keep” and “discard/donate” pile. Replicate this process with in-season clothing and your closet will be nice and tidy!
After this, you’ll end up with half or a third of your initial closet which leads us into clothing storage. It’s obvious but the two ways to store clothing is through folding and on a hanger. Konmari suggests folding in an upright fashion, instead of flat like at a retail store – shown in the video above. Organize your closet starting with heavy items on the left and lighter items on the right. Coats should be to the very far left followed by dresses, jackets, pants, skirts and blouses.
Like clothing, move all books from shelves and place them on the floor. This is essential because books are one of the hardest things people don’t want to let go of. You won’t know if the book is something you can live without unless you take it off the shelf and see if it grabs you.
For unread books, the general rule of thumb is that “sometimes” means “never.” So if there are books deep in hibernation on your shelves that you might read, donate it.
Discard everything unless it fits in one of these categories: currently in use, needed for a limited time or needed permanently. Start by sorting papers into two piles: save and need to deal with. Papers that need attention could be letters or forms requiring a reply. After purging your house of papers, invest in an organizer and keep all papers in one spot from now on.
Komono (miscellaneous items)
Komono translates to “small articles, miscellaneous items, and gadgets.” Think of this category as your junk drawer. There is an accumulation of random items placed in random spots without much thought.
Sort your komono category in the following order: DVDs, makeup, accessories, valuables such as passports, technology, household supplies like medicine or detergent, kitchen supplies, and random (spare change, etc).
3. Everything has a place
Say “goodbye” to that junk drawer or decorative dish you keep for knick-knacks. By allowing space for miscellaneous items, you’re inviting yourself to clutter your home. During your decluttering weekend, determine what goes where and why you want it there.
This doesn’t mean you should go spend $150 on a new closet unit. Reference the categories Konmari suggested above and dedicate bins and organizers accordingly.
4. Keep what matters most
The Konmari method focuses on purging your home of everything your family doesn’t “need” and keeping what brings you joy. It’s comforting to keep sentimental items from precious times. Save pieces that bring your family joy and amplify your best times together.
Revive keepsakes into decor that not only take up less space, but now have a perfect place in your house. You can do this by taking pictures of these items and printing them out. For visually appealing mementos such as concert tickets, display them in a shadow box.
5. Stay Focused
Found some old sentimental letters while you were organizing your coats? Put your blinders on and focus on the category at hand. It’s so easy to get caught up in the nostalgia and then two hours go by but your coats still aren’t sorted and tidy.
When tackling each category, do your tidying all at once, not in segments. Avoid distracting detours, such as old photographs or letters you might stumble across. Fifteen minutes looking at pictures here and an hour sorting through nostalgic pieces there adds up.
6. Orderly house = Orderly life
“Letting go is even more important than adding.” After regaining order in your home, you take back control over your life. Tidying forces you into a state of self-reflection and makes you consider what genuinely brings you joy. Marie’s clients have experienced everything from job changes to feeling motivated and empowered.
After decluttering your home, it’s true that you become more self-aware of what matters to you the most. You will realize that you now have the time to dedicate to activities or people that add meaning to your life. Those impulse buys you regularly made at Homegoods or Target will now become much easier to say no to.
7. Cleaning becomes much easier
Once you get into the groove, cleaning naturally falls into your “necessities” bucket. The lone pair of shoes in your living room will irk you and make you aware that something’s out of place. Because there’s now dedicated space, you’ll feel much better when those shoes are in their home.
This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about your personal well-being. When things are in their right place, you will feel at ease and be able to relax. Cleaning becomes second nature to you and takes barely any time at all.
8. Respect makes everything look better
A common theme throughout Kondo’s book is treating your belongings with respect. She breaks down her tidying strategy into two steps: touch your belongings and see if they spark joy. By creating this sense of unity between you and your things, you respect them more.
This concept makes so much sense if you think about it. You respect your clothing by folding and hanging it, while avoiding clutter in the closet. They look much better category and color coded in your closet instead of on the floor of your laundry room.