decluttering

What I'm Loving About Marie Kondo

What I'm Loving About Marie Kondo

Oh, Marie Kondo, where do I begin? It seems like so much has been written about this Japanese organizing juggernaut since she first introduced the idea of how to “spark joy” back in 2014 in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I read her book shortly after it came out and really liked parts of it. I liked how Kondo wrote of her own organizing journey. She wrote about growing up in a family that didn’t like tidying quite as much as she did, and how she evolved her organizing techniques over the years.

The essence of the Kondo-credo is that your belongings have a “life of their own” so to speak. That they are in service to you, and you should use and appreciate them while you own them. And when your use for them is over, “thank” them and then pass them on to someone, or somewhere, else. She says that you should only keep things that “spark joy.” Of course that is a highly subjective description. What one person finds “joyful,” another may not. I heard her giving an example of describing the “sparking of joy” as the feeling of holding a new puppy for the first time. As a dog-lover this immediately resonated with me. I think her intention is for an emotional connection to be made to an object that ascribes it a high enough value to be kept, used and cherished.

Ideas to Get Rid of Stuff Ecologically

Ideas to Get Rid of Stuff Ecologically

The end of the holiday season is always a special time of year for me. Special because it taps into one of my guilty pleasures: throwing things away. From one organizing enthusiast to another, that might not sound so odd. After all, a key aspect of being neat, tidy, and uncluttered, is not having too much stuff.

But for me, it goes a bit deeper. I actually get a little bit of a happy rush when I see a full garbage can. And the week after Christmas provides a full neighborhood of streets lined with garbage cans and recycle bins overflowing with the remnants of holiday cheer. It is so expected that the garbage company even allots for additional waste the first pickup after Christmas.

As with all guilty pleasures, I'm not particularly proud of my Oscar the Grouch affinity for all things trash. But hey, that is what makes it a guilty pleasure. I know the importance and necessity for proper recycling and reducing and reusing as much as we can, to help the environment and the future of our planet.

So even though I feel a glee for a full garbage can, I know the importance

My Ability To Grow Garbage

My Ability To Grow Garbage

For my husband, Andrew, and I, it was love at first click. We met over the internet (Yahoo chat room to be specific) that launched a long distance relationship that lasted several months. Within a couple of years of moving in with him we were married, and the rest, as they say, is marital bliss.

So how does my ability to accumulate an overflowing trash can fit into all of this? Let me explain: one of the best aspects of being long distance in the beginning of our relationship was it forced us to really get to know each other. We would spend hours on the computer, or talking on the phone about pretty much any topic we wanted. One night the conversation evolved into home decorating and our respective “dream” kitchens. I think the question went something like, “if you could have any luxury appliance in your kitchen, what would it be?” To be honest, I don’t remember what his answer was, but we both remember my answer: a trash compactor.

Now by this stage in our relationship, I am not sure how much Drew knew about how much I love organizing. If he had been to my apartment by that point he would have seen that I am a very tidy person. But it wasn’t until I visited his house, which was, let’s just say in a bachelor state of less-tidiness that he learned what my need for clean really was.

Thoughts on Regifting

Thoughts on Regifting

Coming into the holiday season I think it is a good time to talk about re-gifting. I know re-gifting can be somewhat of a taboo topic. But in terms of organizing, and living a more uncluttered life, re-gifting can be a practical solution.

Of course I can't go any further without stating the obvious: be careful to not hurt anyone’s feelings. Don't accidentally re-gift something to the same person who gave it to you. And make sure that the gift giver does’t know you have re-gifted their gift, unless you have their permission. And lastly, remember the Kevin Bacon six-degrees of separation rule. Apply caution when re-gifting in larger families or similar social circles. Awkward is awkward whether it is your mother, your cousin, or your next door neighbor.

But with that warning label out of the way, let's get to some of the practical benefits of regifting: saving money, saving time, and reducing clutter in your home. A common excuse for not re-gifting is guilty. People feel guilty for giving away something given to them. But I look at it another way. I think it is worse to keep something you won’t enjoy. Pass it on to someone who will really use or enjoy it.

Live Organized With The One In One Out Rule

Live Organized With The One In One Out Rule

I don’t care if you are a professional organizer or a homemaker simply enthusiastic about keeping a tidy house-- living an organized life requires consistent strategies. One of my favorite and most effective strategies is what I call the “One In One Out” rule. It’s purpose is to help keep from accumulating too much stuff.

The “One In One Out” rule goes like this: say you have a drawer full of pants. Once you reach capacity for how many pants that drawer will hold, when you buy a new pair of pants, one pair has to be gotten rid of.

Yes, it is really that simple.

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Organization and Decluttering

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Organization and Decluttering

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle? I learned of it years ago, and I think it really can apply to the process of getting your home and/or office more organized, and also, re-examining your schedule to be more productive. In essence, the 80/20 rule says that 80 percent of results will come from 20 percent of action.

Applying this principle to all of your “stuff” works like this: many people only use 20 percent of the things they own on a daily or even semi-daily basis. For example, owning 10 pairs of shoes but reliably only wearing two. 20 cookbooks sit on a shelf but only 4 show quality kitchen love.

Back in terms of time productivity, I flip this explanation a bit and approach it from one other perspective as well. Oftentimes, when I am working on something, the last 20 percent of the work, takes 80 percent of the time! Many times I will think “oh, it’s only going to take me 10 minutes to finish the last of this project.” Only to realize that is actually going to take twice as long, or more. Some how what should be the easiest “finishing” part always turns out to be the longest last mile.

And when it comes to a big organizing or tidying project, inevitably, only in the last 20 percent of the project will 80 percent of the result be realized. That is why it is so hard for people who don’t truly have a passion for organizing (like me or Marie Kondo who says herself, she “loves messes”) have such a hard time staying motivated at the beginning—or even middle— stages of an organizing task. It’s because it looks like no progress is being made.

The Importance of Leaving Room To Grow

The Importance of Leaving Room To Grow

One mistake I see people make who want to get more organized is, not thinking about tomorrow. Meaning, they look at the amount of stuff they have, they look at the amount of space they have to store said "stuff," and they take a freeze frame of time. They think that if it all fits now, that is enough. They don't leave room to grow. They don't think about tomorrow. But then time passes, life happens, and they are suddenly looking at some very pricey organizational tools that are now buried under a lot more stuff that tomorrow has brought, because they didn't thinking about leaving room to grow.

It's a rookie mistake, but also very much a part of human nature, focusing on the present and not thinking about tomorrow, especially when it comes to all our stuff. But it is an important over site. A key to being organizing is having enough room not only for everything you have now, but everything you will acquire in the future.

5 sorting steps to success: from clutter to cleared out

5 sorting steps to success: from clutter to cleared out

I know at the beginning of a big organizing project, the mess and the task seem so overwhelming. You don't know where to start. I've been there so many times myself. No matter what the project, whether it is a box of a year's worth of mismatched photos, or a long-neglected outdoor shed.

No matter how overwhelmed I am feeling though, I don't panic. That is because I know the steps to break down the big mess into something manageable and that I can sort into success. At it's most basic principle, it is about separating items into "like" piles. The more you split and divide, the smaller the big mess gets.

Below I break down a full five-step plan for attacking the disorganized mess that is overwhelming in your home and your life. It has been hanging over your head like a dark cloud for way too long. Well join me in proclaiming, NO MORE!

Where Does it Live? Strategies for Keeping Tidy

Where Does it Live? Strategies for Keeping Tidy

There is one key component to efficient organization that no one ever really talks about. Mainly because it is often inconvenient, not fun, and often something we don't feel we are responsible for. What is it? Put simply: putting things away.

For many a household, including my own, after an exceptionally busy week, by the time Friday arrives it looks like a tornado has blown through the entire house. I can retrace my steps of projects worked on, meals prepared, mail received, clothes worn, etc. In addition to the steps of my husband, and well, lets not leave the family pets out of the mix. Everyone contributes to the family whirlwind.

Good news is, like at my house, there are strategies that can help make it easier to clean up and put things away. Dare I say, even making the process fun?! The two key components are assigning “homes” for your belongings and corralling them within domestic “zones.”

I Love Organizing-- Just Not Other People's Stuff

I Love Organizing-- Just Not Other People's Stuff

Nine years ago, shortly after moving to California, I made my initial venture into entrepreneurship by launching my own organizing business, Simply Sort. Inspired by clutter-busting shows like TLC's Clean Sweep, and those similar, I thought, "I have good ideas. I've helped friends and family. How hard could it be?"

Well, as I discovered, while it wasn't necessarily hard, it was by no means easy. Not that launching one's own business is ever easy. After all, I believe anything really worth doing, should have some hardness to it. With Simply Sort, it wasn't that I was afraid of the hard work, but rather, the work itself turned out not be what I assumed it would be. I learned to "fail fast" as the pros would say. Which for me, was a success all on its own.