organizing

When you take back your space, you take back your life.

Photo by  Florian Klauer  on  Unsplash

Is there anything more thrilling than staring at a blank canvas? Is there anything more terrifying?

What about when that blank canvas is your home?

After you've sorted, and questioned, and culled. And tossed, and recycled, and donated. After bags and bags of stuff have left your life. After everything has been put in it's place, and labeled. Everything has it's space. Everything has it's place. Everything is set up. Everything is waiting for you to make the next move.

After you've taken your space back. Then it's your turn.

Organizing your home isn't the ending, it's the beginning.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo

When you take back your space, you take back your life, and after you take your life back, it's time to start living it. How do you want to live your life? What will you print on your blank canvas?

The KonMari Method deals with the parts of tidying that are actually difficult.

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing is a brilliantly & concisely written - no extra words, no fluff, no filler - she gets straight to the point. This makes for some great quotes, and I do love a good quote, so I've gathered together some of the best and most poignant ones.

These are all from Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing."

  • “Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”
  • “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
  • “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important."
  • “The true purpose of a present is to be received.”
  • “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”
  • “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
  • “Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?”
  • “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
  • “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.”
  • “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Interestingly enough, some of the best parts of her book aren't about tidying itself. Instead the best bits have to do with addressing the psychological hurdles we need to overcome in order to tidy. As Bourree Lam wrote in this article in The Atlantic, "...I think the reason Kondo-mania continues is because she has actually hit upon some good solutions to deal with these pervasive mental fallacies."

We all know that tidying isn't inherently difficult, it's a pretty simple process - get rid of things, and then put what's left away. But in reality it's much harder, because of these "pervasive mental fallacies" and the reason the KonMari Method works is that it deals with the bits of decluttering that are hard - the internal bits.

How do you want to live your life?

Photo by  Roman Mager  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

How do you want to live your life? It's a big question, but when you're organizing, it's an important one.

We all want to live in clean & organized homes - living with mess and clutter isn't pleasant, no matter where or how you live. But what "an organized home" looks like for you is probably going to be different than what an "organized home" looks like to your neighbor.

A big part of decluttering is getting rid of things that no longer 'spark joy.' And the things that no longer spark joy are different for everyone.

While strict minimalism isn't necessary by any means, the fewer things you own that don't spark joy, the easier it is to organize what's left. Most of us hang on to tons of stuff that doesn't spark joy, that we don't like, that we don't need, that we don't want - and all that stuff weights us down.

So, how do you want to live your life?

In your idea world, what would you have around you? What wouldn't you?

The Intensity of Cleaning Up & Clearing Out

Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

We spend huge amounts of our lives surrounded by "stuff." Piles of possessions. Mountains of things: things we bought, things we were given, things we don't even remember how we came to be in possession of.

And we spend so much time with these things of ours, that at some point we stop seeing them. We stop seeing the piles of clutter as piles of clutter - they just become part of a daily landscape.

We know the piles are there, and that they are clutter, and that we should probably do something about them, but that never quite happens.

And at some point, the clutter becomes comfortable - familiar. We get attached to our piles of possessions, so that when we do decide to tackle our piles - thoroughly and completely, once and for all - it's a very intense experience.

It turns out that many of us, don't have lots of experience detaching ourselves from our possessions - that's why it's so important to have support when you do a major clean out. Where that support specifically comes from doesn't matter quite as much as making sure you have it.

Support can come from friends or family members, an online community, a book, or even a professional organizer - we just need someone to help us get all the way to the end.

Cleaning up, clearing out, and taking an honest look at everything we own is an extremely intense process - it's why we work so hard to avoid it.

But the feeling of being free, unencumbered by our possessions is completely worth the struggles we go through to get there.

The Importance of Having Support While You Declutter

Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

At it's worst, decluttering can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience. But what if it didn't HAVE to be that way?

What if decluttering didn't HAVE to be painful & awful & annoying & boring?

But how could decluttering be anything else? With plenty of support and cheerleading.

Support can come from many places, but the important things that all decluttering support includes are:

1. cheerleading - all of us need cheerleading at some point when we're decluttering, so having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going.

2. accountability - sometimes we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles under the bed, or in the closet, so having someone to help us keep ourselves accountable in a way that works for us, helps keep us from quitting halfway.

3. clear headedness - decluttering can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. The decluttering support system trifecta.

Where exactly your support comes from, is best determined by you. You could call on your friends, your family, an online community, a book, a method, or even a professional organizer (like me!) - but so long as your support system provides cheerleading, accountably, and clear headedness, you should be good to go.

What do you want your home to feel like?

Photo by  Jim DiGritz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

"Life, is for most of us one long postponement." -Henry Miller

If you close your eyes, and imagine coming home, walking up to your front door, unlocking the lock, opening the door, and stepping inside, what does your entrance-way look like? How does it feel? What do you wish the entrance to your home looked like?

If you were to actually walk into your house right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like?

One final question, what do you wish it felt like when you walked in the door? Imagine it felt peaceful, or inviting, or comfortable. Imagine walking in the door and not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff, the mess, the clutter, the filled to the brim-ness of it.

"…what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when they come home. But more often than not, we do, and it sucks.

Clutter and overwhelm, unfortunately go hand in hand. When we're overwhelmed, we're less likely to organize, which leads to clutter, which feeds the overwhelm, which leads to more clutter piling up. And pretty soon, there's so much clutter that you have no idea where to start.

Clutter isn't usually the root cause of overwhelm, but certainly doesn't help things, and eventually it becomes a source of overwhelm in and of itself.

Having said that, what if we eliminate clutter, so that it can no longer be a source of overwhelm? And if you could walk into your home and not feel overwhelmed by clutter, what lengths would you go to, to keep it that way?

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing everything first?

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing out all of our stuff first, and then brought back into our lives the things we loved the most?

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we get rid of?" we're starting by assuming that we'll be keep most of our stuff.

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we keep?" or put another way "what sparks joy?" we're starting off by assuming that we'll be getting rid of most of our stuff.

"Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." -Marie Kondo The Life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

The more "stuff" we have, the harder it is to organize. The more "stuff" we eliminate, the easier it is to organize. And the higher the ratio of "stuff that sparks joy" to "stuff that doesn't spark joy," the easier it is to stay organized.

Organizing your home is one thing. Staying organized once and for all, is another thing entirely.

Do you get overwhelmed by too much "stuff" too?

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Too much stuff - it's a common problem.

Why do we have all this stuff? Do we really need all of it? Do we even need half of it? How do we let go of the things we don't need? How do we keep those things from coming back?

When I first started asking myself these questions, I began realizing my possessions were like an outward expression of my inner self.The state of my home, my office, my desk influenced, and also reflected how I felt.

Cluttered with bits & bobs, excess papers everywhere, piles of clothes, and boxes of this & that - don't even get me stated on my inbox & emails! - there's no end to the form that "stuff" can take.

I keep looking for clues to solve the organizational puzzle - both for myself, and my clients.

Everyone has their own puzzle to solve when it comes to organizing, with it's own clues, and it's own solution. No single solution works for everyone in every situation - the best solution is the one that works for you now.

For me, the key to my code is generally minimizing. What no longer "sparks joy?" What can I thank and let go of? What objects can move on from my life?

For me, having lots of "stuff" is overwhelming - I don't think I'm alone in this.

Since our external world reflects & influences our internal world. I find that pairing down my possessions, with intention and focus, keeping things that spark joy, and passing along things that don't - no need to throw things out willy-nilly! - helps me begin to harmonize my internal and external worlds.

Put another way.

When my space feels good, I feel good.

Marie Kondo puts it like this:

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.

(quoted from an excerpt of Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" posted on slate.com)

Our "stuff" is about so much more than just the physical object - so no wonder we get overwhelmed!

And no wonder, that when we start letting go of objects that don't bring us joy, we also begin to let go of the emotional baggage attached to those objects. It's almost like, by taking 1 step towards decluttering, you're also taking 2 steps towards eliminating overwhelm.

So, what's the smallest step you could take towards decluttering, and eliminating overwhelm?

Let's change the question from 'what can I get rid of?' to 'what sparks joy?'

Photo by  Roman Kraft  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Ever since I was first introduced to Marie Kondo's book and the KonMari Method I was enamored by the possibility of organizing my home (and my clients homes) once and for all.

Most of the time we start cleaning/organizing/decluttering by asking the question "What can we get rid of?"

What can we get rid of? When was the last time we used it? Do we have multiples? Do we really need it?

We focus on the "getting rid of" aspect.

The KonMari Method asks "What sparks joy?"

Does this spark joy in us? - This question focuses on the "keeping & fulfilling" aspect.

What would life feel like if everything in our home sparked joy? How amazing would it be to come home to that? And what would you do to keep that feeling?

Once you have the feeling of walking into a home where every object sparks joy, would you ever again tolerate objects that didn't spark joy?

Let's change the question from "what can we get rid of?" to "what sparks joy?"

What my organizing & design clients have in common & it makes me love them!

shelving 2 VivianJohnson.jpg

You know it’s a sign of strength to ask for help, but for the longest time  thought you should be able pick yourself up by the bootstraps and power through it.

You have many talents (some not realized).

You feel safe with me & know I won’t judge you.

You have been through your share of difficulties and have survived (and usually thrived).

You have a sense of humour about your predicament.

You are seriously ready for change in your life, and willing to put the effort in.

You have an appreciation of beauty and independence.

The things you love, you cherish.

You know what it means to take care of yourself.

You love a good pair of shoes

You feel a sense of urgency about your organizing project

You are eager to start (and complete) this process called organizing, because that means you can focus on your dreams.

You are excited by imaging how much better your life will feel when things are in order.

You realize organizing is a process, AND

Because you want to be happy at Home. Now.