Organizing Your Stuff/Life

02 Mar Organizing Your Stuff/Life

I had the pleasure of presenting at the Bulverde Spring Branch Library Lunch & Learn in early February.  The topic was Organizing Your Stuff / Life, and focused mainly on Marie Kondo book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

Being in the business of Professional Organizing for over a decade, even I learned a thing or two from Kondo’s book, and I was able to give both a book report of sorts, and reveal my own insight on her methodology.

First of all, my favorite quote from the book is on page twenty-one, “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination.  The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”   Kondo really puts it into perspective here, reminding us that the lifestyle is our goal, and she details tools for tidying throughout the book.  She further encourages that, “As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you.” (p. 124)

So, how does one begin to declutter and minimize?  Kondo teaches us a mantra, and it’s the phrase from her book I hear parroted the most, which is, “Does it spark joy?”  This is an excellent question to ask yourself when you’re sorting through your stuff, deciding what to keep or not keep.  If the item doesn’t spark joy, then it’s time to say goodbye to it.

If you find yourself hemming and hawing over whether or not it sparks joy, or if you’re feeling guilty for getting rid of things, Kondo has good insight.  She says our “things” can have a psychological hold over us and, “when we delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” (p. 181)
Furthermore, Kondo reminds us that “the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”  (p. 182)

Worry about giving away too much?  Kondo has an answer for that, too, “Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something.” (p. 187)  With the minimalist trend happening recently, this is timely advice.  And there’s a reason many of us are minimizing.  I’ve always told my clients that minimizing and organizing bring Simplicity to one’s life.  Kondo takes it a step further, stating, “It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially ‘detox’ our house, it has a detox effect (sic) on our bodies as well.”  (p. 193)

In my opinion, there are three main revolutionary approaches to organizing that Kondo introduced to the world.  First is the previously mentioned question of “does it spark joy?”  Second is the approach of conducting a “tidying marathon” rather than organizing a little at a time.  She claims this will be “life transforming” and will completely change your habits and way of thinking that “little-by-little” tidying can’t achieve.  Third is that she advices to de-clutter by category, rather than by room.  For instance, de-clutter all books at once, all papers at once, all clothing at once, and so-on.   She has given her methodology a nickname, by the way, the KonMari Method, which is a combination of her last and first names.

As you have likely heard, Kondo also has a KonMari folding method, which is basically folding your clothes into a rolled shape.  It is more compact, thereby creating more space in your drawers, is easier to see, and prevents wrinkles.  She begins the explanation of her folding method on page seventy-one.

Kondo also has advice on the topic of books.  Regarding the books you’re keeping around to read sometime, Kondo points out that “’Sometime’ means ‘never.’” (p. 89).  So, instead of keeping an excessive number of books that you may someday read (but haven’t so far), consider donating them to the BSB Library!

Kondo and I both agree that having a Professional Organizer involved will help streamline the process and result in great transformations.  So, don’t feel you have to “go it alone.”

While I learned some new philosophies from Kondo’s book, there were a few things on which I hold different views.  She asserts there is one and only one way to organize. I believe that although some of the basics of organizing are the same, there’s plenty of room for personalization in organization.  Also, she believes that clothes have feelings, which I understand is likely a cultural or religious belief she holds.   Finally, she mentions discarding items and I would prefer people donate as much as possible so that others might benefit from what we no longer need.

While Kondo’s best selling book is definitely insightful, Debbie Soelberg, the Library’s Program/Outreach Coordinator mentioned that we Americans may be more inclined to read “Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good,” by Andrew J. Mellen.  Check it out from the BSB Library!

Mikaela Rios is a Professional Organizer and owner of Imagine Gurus, LLC, located in Spring Branch.  Check out her website for more information, including Photos and You may reach her by phone at 210-774-7373.