Saturday, September 12, 2015

Effectively Organized: KonMari-ing my house

I learned about the Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing from Heather Power's on either her Humblebead's blog or the other blog she hosts called Art Bead Scene

I love this book!!! I consider myself really organized. I'm a project manager for my day job and can keep a team of people pretty organized, too. But, I was still missing finer points. 

I came back from living in Hong Kong in 400 square feet of space very determined not to fill my life up with "stuff" and keep things simple. While I have kept things simple relatively speaking to when I moved to HK in 2008, I still collected a lot more stuff than I intended. Even living in a relatively modest space of 1,000 square feet. It's just easier to collect more stuff when you live in a bigger space. Even though I've moved 9 times in 5 years, and keep getting rid of things with every move, I still have too much "stuff." 

Enter The Tidy Lady, Marie Kondo, and her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

One of my goals with starting off my new business in Florida was "to get everything organized, without being OCD to the point where I would feel comfortable having guests over at a moment's notice." At about the time I wrote this down on my task list, I read Heather's blog and how she was using this book to tidy her studio.

I downloaded the book to my Kindle app and was totally hooked. SO many good points. Here are the ones that have been the final elements of my personal organizing arsenal. 

  1. Keep what brings you joy. This point was a major mental shift for me. We have access to so much more material at prices we can afford than ever before in history. With that, we end up with a lot more clutter than we think, even when we intentionally try to keep things simple. I actually ended up keeping a few small things that I might have discarded simply because they brought me joy. I got rid of a LOT of things that didn't bring me joy, including things I thought I should hold on to. Now I felt liberated to let them go. I also upgraded my kitchen to bring me joy. I had a lot of things in my kitchen that I needed (dishes, pots, pans), but that I didn't like. I took the opportunity to upgrade the kitchen and now find pleasure in keeping my kitchen tidier than I ever have in the past. Ever.
  2. Follow her recommended order. Start with your clothes. I did my clothes first as she recommends to get some traction into the process. Now I LOVE my closet. I love looking at the neatly folded items and neatly hanging clothes. I've actually been able to maintain my closet for over a month because it's now beautifully edited and a pleasure to keep neat and tidy.
  3. Folding. I love going into my drawers to find things because now I CAN find them. Things don't get lost under flat piles of clothes. I can easily see the items I'm looking for. This method of folding really fits the piece of me that likes efficiency and speed. 
  4. Thank the item that no longer serves a useful purpose. Another useful point that touches on the emotional connections we might have with things. I had an emotional attachment to items that had strong memories associated with them, but were no longer being used. Her simple method of holding the item, saying thank you, and sending it on its way provided an emotional catharsis for me. 
  5. Keeping like things together. Another major shift going against the current common wisdom of storing things by how you use them. The problem with me was that I had multiple items in multiple places and couldn't find them when I needed them. I sorted my household supplies area (my laundry room where I now store: tools, paint supplies, cleaning supplies) and now I can find the tools and supplies I need when I need them. Not two weeks later when I don't need them any more. It's fabulous.
  6. Office purge
  7. Gather, purge, and organize like things together. This is another aspect of #5, but when you are organizing your house, organize them in the specific categories she recommends. It made a huge difference for me to categorize all the like items together. If one category is too big (like my art studio) break them down into smaller categories. I'm getting ready to do my studio now but just putting the items together that were related is proving to be a huge improvement over the way I've tried to organize, re-organize, and re-re-organize. I never made really good sense of my art studio organization. Now, things are broken down into: Surface Pattern Design, Polymer Clay, Lamp Work, Metalwork, Chain Maille, Seed Beads, Sewing, Painting. I'll probably re-organize as it makes sense, but now I can actually find things, even piled in boxes. It's amazing.
Studio purge

One thing to note: she recommends doing all the purging in one go. I tried this and was able to do each category in 2-4 days. I spent usually a week on each major category. One big purge at one time and then tweaking for the rest of the week. I thought she meant to purge my entire house in one go, but this isn't realistic with the large American houses. But, I finally found the comment in one section where she says it will take about 6 months to purge everything. "From my experience with private individual lessons, 'quickly' means about half a year. That may seem like a long time, but it is only six months out of your entire life." I'm so motivated, I got my whole house done in less than two months. I still have my car and garage to go after the studio, so I'll include all of that in this process. 

KonMari-ed Office!!!

KonMari-ed Living Area!!!
So, if you start using the KonMari system, remember to give yourself a break and plan for about 6 months of tidying until you get through everything. Do one category per weekend. It's a little bit draining (a lot of decisions happen with purging), but it's exciting when you get to the end of a category and then it gets motivating to keep going. 

The effort and the time is SOOOO worth it. I've finally been able to achieve that elusive feeling I've wanted to achieve for many years of "home tidy and organized so that I could have company at a moment's notice." 


  1. Wow... I got this book a few months ago and I just loved it!! It is a really revolutionary way of viewing your possessions. I told members of my family who are absolutely averse to organization and it prompted them to organize their closet by this method! Now I just need to finish applying it...

  2. Wow - what a difference! Good job. I love having space for possibility, don't you?