Tag Archives: decluttering

The Konmari Method: Not a Magic Bullet!

51mf3u-jpal-_sx348_bo1204203200_Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has been the all the rage for the last two years. I’m guessing it caught on because people were fascinated and hungering for information about how to rid themselves of clutter forever. Wouldn’t that be nice! Or, perhaps the idea that tidying up could be magical and not a dreaded boring task was appealing.

Unfortunately, the only way to rid yourself of clutter forever is to have a highly effective, committed staff that follows you everywhere cleaning up and clearing out behind you or to be dead. As we move through life, we create clutter. The only way I know to live somewhat clutter-free is to make daily clutter clearing a priority along with several larger clutter clearing sessions per year.

Not only was I initially very put off by the suggestion that it is possible to clear clutter forever, I also had a problem with Ms. Kondo’s insistence that everything should be cleared out at once. Having worked as a professional organizer who has cleared clutter for almost 20 years, I have learned that the human brain wears out after an hour or two when making decisions once after another. Going through an entire house can take weeks or even months for most people. It is an enormous task!

Clutter clearing is all about making decisions. The idea that people are capable of working hour after hour, day after day to clear clutter not only is an impossibility (unless a team of people are doing the clearing), but it is a recipe for exhaustion and failure.

I also struggled with the sorting method proposed in Ms. Kondo’s book. At one point she suggested that a person’s closet be emptied onto the floor and clothes from other parts of the house be added to the pile. Then the sorting would begin and continue until all the clothes were sorted.

First, piling all the clothes in one place is a recipe for overwhelm. Seeing all the clothes at once would shut down most of my clients’ brains, especially those with ADHD. Also, it really isn’t necessary to empty closets when clearing them out. In fact, it’s much more efficient to leave all clothes in the closet, except for any that are on the floor, and pull out only those that a person no longer wants.

Finally, it is highly unlikely that even a person who is highly focused and motivated would be able to stay engaged in the sorting process until that enormous job was done. When exhaustion sets in, the brain melts down. When the brain is done, people quit clearing clutter. That would leave a big pile of clothes in the middle of the bedroom, a pile that would be much harder to get back to than it was to work on it the first time.

With all that said, I really liked the feng shui feel of the book. The way she looked at possessions was almost referent. Plus, she linked quality of a person’s life to the condition of their environment. Feng shui teaches that what you have in your space affects what happens in your life.

I can see all my shirts at once! No MIA shirts!

I can see all my shirts at once! No MIA shirts!

My favorite part of the book, however, was the section addressing how to fold clothes for maximum visibility. Using her suggestions I have totally transformed my sock and nightgown drawer and my shirt drawer using her methods. I feel proud and happy every time I open one of those drawers. Everything is so neat, organized and visible.

No, you can’t banish clutter forever. There are no magic bullets. But, you can improve the condition of your space by clearing clutter every day.

Clear Clutter and Create an Attic You Love

I can imagine that many of your are thinking, “Love my attic. Are you kidding?” What2008 Photos 003 would it take for you to love your attic? Attics are not places that we think about loving. They are storage spaces, not areas where you hang out. But, imagine going into your attic without a sense of dread. Imagine actually looking forward to entering your attic. What would that attic look like? How would it feel?

Here are some of my ideas for having an attic that you love:

  • It has been cleared of all things that you no longer love or use and gets cleared at least once a year.
  • It is well organized so you can find things easily.
  • It has space to move around–not packed to the gills!
  • The floors have been swept or vacuumed to remove dust and grime.
  • The things you use most often are conveniently located for easy access.
  • Everything in the space is in good condition and in good working order.
  • Everything in the space has a purpose.
  • It has good lighting.
An attic you can love.

An attic you can love.

An attic like the one I’ve described would certainly not feel like the burden that most attics seem to be. It would still be a storage area, not a place to spend time, but I’ll bet you’d be less likely to procrastinate going there. Perhaps that’s as close to loving your attic as you can get.

Fall is a great time to clear clutter out of your attic! Feng shui teaches that the attic is the area that holds energies of your hopes and aspirations. Make an investment in attaining your hopes and aspirations by decluttering your attic!

Utility Room Clutter Clearing or Have Your Cleaning Products Had Babies?

It’s always interesting to see how many kinds of silver polish I find when FullSizeRenderI’m helping clients clear clutter from their utility rooms. I’m not exactly sure how it happens, but I often find duplicates of silver polish, carpet stain removal products, floor waxes, and furniture polish in particular.

I wonder if this accumulation happens because clients hear about a new, improved product and just have to try i. Or, if they just don’t remember that they already have a product. What’s also interesting is that when they discover that they have multiples of a product, they often keep all of them.

I recommend that you figure out which product works best for you, and either let go of the rest or systematically use up the extras. A good way use up a product is to put the bottle you want to use up in front of the other duplicates. It’s also always a good idea to keep smaller containers on lower shelves so they will be visible and easy to access. Even though you use many of those products only occasionally, storing them on an upper shelf guarantees that they will get lost in the bottle jungle. Make them visible and use them up! Also, make a deal with yourself that you will only buy new cleaning
products when you are sure that you need them.

Remember, things that don’t get used have a static, dead energy. Those extras are taking up prime real estate that could be better used in some other way. Get real with yourself about those that are really worth keeping! Lighten your cleanser load!

Clutter Clearing Success, Thanks to Housekeeper

Every now and then one of my former clients will write and let me know about their clutter imagesCA7LLPVQclearing success. I always ask if I can share their stories in my blog so others can benefit from what they learned. Following is a success story I received this week. I think it’s wonderful how this client found a way to get her housecleaning and clutter clearing done with a little creative thinking about her finances. I hope she inspires you to find clutter clearing solutions that work for you!

“I have found a solution that is working for me with the clutter clearing of the things I’ve collected over the years along with the addition of my mother’s things after her death in 2007.

I hired a housekeeper.  

I had become so frustrated with not being able to be a good housewife AND a productive artist/teacher, along with nursing 3 sick animals until their deaths in recent years, it was overwhelming.  So after our big dog died in October, I looked at what the medicines and vet bills had been for those pets and realized I could divert those funds into having a housekeeper once or twice a month.  Better yet, while she is doing that, I decided I can use that time, since I’m home while she is here, to go through all those things to toss, save or give away. One table or bookcase or corner at a time. 

It’s been a great way to handle the de-cluttering. Even if it takes awhile, it’s better than not (doing it) at all.  Using the advice you had given me during your visits here about (not) keeping broken things, or emotionally negative things along with various other bits of wisdom, like one hour, one drawer at a time, it’s getting done.”

PS This client stumbled on the magic of using a body double when she began using the housekeeper’s cleaning time as clutter clearing time for herself. Many people are able to do things that they normally would avoid, especially boring and/or overwhelming tasks like paying bills, cleaning up and clutter clearing, when there is another body in their space. Somehow the presence of that impartial other helps ground them to be able to manage their anxiety, boredom, or overwhelm to face what seem like insurmountable tasks when faced alone.