As you probably noticed, decluttering and organizing got a lot of press after Marie Kondo published The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Many people embraced the KonMari method and found ease and joy in their newly KonMari-ed homes. That’s terrific!
But what if you are not one of them? The truth is, the KonMari method (despite Ms. Kondo’s claims) is not the best fit for everyone. It requires huge chunks of time and concentration, not to mention quick decision-making, all in the name of ruthless purging. If it sounds stressful to you, you’re not alone – nor is there something “wrong” with you!
Many of our clients are best suited by the drip method of decluttering: a little at a time.
Decluttering A Little At A Time
Decluttering is sacred work. It asks that you examine memories, feelings, and values in a way that can be tiring. It’s physical work, but it’s also mental and emotional work. We find that breaking the process into manageable steps, and working through clutter slowly, carefully, and mindfully is just as – if not more! – effective an approach as the KonMari method. We love Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s book Your Spacious Self* for her emphasis on the “drip” method.
Rest assured that though you may find the decision making process tiring, it’s also liberating. There's nothing like the feeling of relief and freedom that come from letting things go. As you release what no longer serves you, you create room (literally and figuratively) for new energy to flourish. Click To Tweet The results of the decluttering process are often exciting and energizing. You might find yourself feeling inspired and motivated to do even more decluttering or other personal projects. Decluttering and organizing is a form of self-care. And self-care often begets more self-care!
Gently Changing Habits
A key part of our work with clients is discussing habits and routines. You may have lived in your home for years and formed habits that do not support a decluttered and organized space. That’s okay – we all start somewhere, and it’s never too late to make positive changes.
Even if you do one big purge the way Ms. Kondo suggests, it takes discipline and practice to keep the clutter from creeping back in! As we declutter with our clients, we ask questions about how different rooms are used and how papers and clothes are managed. Through that conversation, we gain a deeper understanding of how the space functions for you. Our clients often intuitively know what new habits and routines they want to form. They ask us questions, and we brainstorm together new choices that will support a decluttered life.
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For example, some clients struggle to keep up with paper and mail. They move mail from the mailbox to the dining room table and it ends up accumulating there untouched. One new habit might be to carry the mail straight to the recycling bin, and sort it right then and there. That way it’s easy to put the junk in the bin and to put only the important items on the table. We encourage clients to practice opening the important mail right away and sorting it into action piles: bills to pay, car stuff to take care of, invitations to respond to. Depending upon where those actions take place, the next step is to move the piles to the desk, computer, filing cabinet or wherever you attend to such items. Another new habit could be to put a small attractive recycling bin right inside the front door near the mailbox. That way the junk mail never makes it very far into the house!
Remember that you are wise, and you know what you need or want to change. Click To Tweet We’re here to help you envision new ways of interacting with your space and your “stuff.”
Finding Ease And Joy
We love that Ms. Kondo asks her clients if each object brings them joy. This is a great question! Many of us hold on to things because we feel like we’re supposed to, and that sense of obligation often has a heavy energy. We love the joy question as one step in developing criteria to help you decide what to keep. But if an item doesn’t bring you joy, you might have other reasons you want to keep it – and that’s okay too. This is not the decluttering Olympics! This is your life, and it’s important that you feel supported and at ease during your decluttering process, no matter how long it takes.
If something sparks pride or nostalgia or even anger, those emotions are as valid as joy, and can provide important guidance. If you’re not ready to let a particular item go, trust yourself and keep it until you’re ready. Many clients find that an object they wanted to keep in October can easily be let go in March. Some folks even experience a shift by the next day! Sometimes it takes our hearts a period of time to get used to the idea of letting go. The bottom line is that there are no wrong answers. You must do what’s right for you right now, in this moment.
What decluttering and organizing methods have you tried? What practice have you found to be the most useful? Share in the comments!
*We recommend books and products that we and our clients love. If you purchase Your Spacious Self or The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Amazon using these links, we receive a very small percentage of the sales price as a member of their affiliate program,
Discover more ways to mindfully DECLUTTER your home or office here! >>
Discover more ways to mindfully ORGANIZE your home or office here! >>
You may also enjoy the perspective of Michael Spencer, host of the Let’s Purify Podcast. In her episode on Tidying Up and Purification, Michael outlines some of the things she admires about the KonMari method and also explores where tidying up and home energy purification part ways. And if you missed my guest appearance on Michael’s podcast, you can catch the “Mindful Organizing in 7 Steps” episode here.
Updated January 2019: More Kondo Articles!!!
Links to more perspectives on Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organizing. From Smithsonian magazine, to the Washington Post, to London’s Guardian, Marie Kondo and her spark-filled hands are all the buzz these days!
Since her Netflix show launched, opionions are flying, both pro and con. We would love to hear your thoughts!