How I organized my home through one simple practice

January 8, 2019

If my Facebook feed is any indication, the hot new thing is the Netflix show called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” The (presumably) first season of eight episodes just dropped, making it possible to binge-watch the organizing guru personally lead people through her process.

I’ve only watched the first episode thus far, but am hooked. I was an early adopter, reading her book when it first came out and “konmari’ing” my whole house. My wife and I decided halfway through watching the new show that we had to do the process again, starting with our clothes (as Marie always suggests).

In its essence, the KonMari method helps you to declutter your home with one simple method:

  • You gather everything of one type together (starting with clothes, then books, and then papers, and on through the miscellaneous items we all have crammed into junk drawers.)
  • You pick up every single item (every pair of socks or pants, every blouse, every hat, every tee shirt), one a time, and you ask yourself one simple question: “Does this spark joy in me?”
  • If the answer is no, you discard it and if the answer is yes, you keep it.

Joy. Not a word most of us associate with the seemingly-endless task of keeping a home (of any size) free from clutter.

Those who swear by her method, as I do, know that this simple question, “Does this spark joy?” is incredibly powerful. It provides an immediate gut check that provides clarity.

What’s important to you today?

The life-changing magic claim is harder to discern immediately, but Kondo’s theory is that by decluttering – literally getting rid of the weight of the past and unlikely dreams for the future – we can truly focus on what is most important to us right now.

Naysayers like to disparage the KonMari method and poke fun at some of her zanier ideas (thank your socks for doing the hard work of keeping your feet comfortable; empty out your purse every night.) But the truth at the base of her method is that the more stuff we have to buy, store, maintain, organize, replace, and obsess over, the less time we have to figure out and do what is most essential.

marie kondo folding joyHow to get started

Getting started with her method can feel overwhelming, but I found it to be the exact opposite, when I first tried the method. I started with my clothes, as is her suggestion, but only by room. First I did my bedroom, then the front hall closet, then the basement storage area.

Then I did my books, again by room (first the basement with most of the bookshelves, and then the bedroom, and finally the living room. Weeks later, I remembered the kitchen and the cookbooks! Eventually it all got done.

Next, I tackled “papers,” as she suggests. This took more than one shot, as I had papers in a variety of places, but it felt fantastic to shred pounds of unnecessary clutter!

And just as Marie Kondo promises, there was some magic involved. I found a beloved and long-lost shirt, discovered stashes of money, AND, as she promised, others in my house have started following the method, inspired by me!

By Susan A. Messina

Susan is Iona’s Deputy Director. She holds three master’s degrees, including two from Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive.

One thought on “How I organized my home through one simple practice”

  1. I’ve never read Kondo’s book, but I believe in and adhere to her practice. I’ve always had to clear my files and desk before beginning a new writing project. And a decade of emptying 5 different family homes after a loved one’s death have made me more mindful of paring down my own living space–not only so my daughters won’t have to do what I’ve had to do, but because there are items in my home that others could use right now. “Joy” for me is twined with use. As a writer, the “material” that is most useful to me is that which inspires a new work, that urges me to make meaning.

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