Recently, a little book about simplifying has created a big sensation, inspiring its readers to organize and declutter. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is the work of Marie Kondo, a Japanese organization consultant. In Kondo’s book, she outlines how to “tidy up” your environments by deciding what things bring you joy and keeping those – it is called the KonMari method.
Kate Kelley, a JLNO Active member, is a self-professed “walking advertisement for [KonMari].” She has adopted this method in two homes and her work environment. “I tidy up daily, weekly and monthly, hitting up different spaces each time,” she said. “My stress level goes down instantly…it feels wonderful. When you tidy up your living space and have an environment that is welcoming to you, you are truly living.”
Sustainer Marjory Harper, agrees that a zen-like atmosphere creates a less stressful and healthful environment. Marjory is the Director of Major Gifts at Ochsner Health System. “When [Ochsner] opened our Breast Center, we travelled all over the country to clinics to determine what was best for the patients,” she said. They found that the sensory environment was very much a part of the healing process for patients and families. And so, Ochsner created a KonMari-esque space – clean without being sterile and full of objects pleasing to the senses (art, aquariums, music, pleasant aromas and a coffee shop).
With good intentions for living well in mind, here are a few of Kate's take-aways from KonMari that should help you get started finding happiness and good health in 2017 by decluttering and organizing your environment:
1. Research: Create a file. Pull pictures from magazines. Print pics from the internet. Create a Houzz or Pinterest Board. “Whatever photos you choose, most likely, it’s of a clean space. Imagine how you feel in that space. Start there as you begin to discard and decide what to keep.”
2. Find Joy: With this end goal in sight, don’t tidy room by room. Tidy by category. “Start with clothing as it’s the easiest to practice the technique, then books, miscellaneous accessories and finally sentimental items… If you haven’t used the item and it’s been with you a while, it’s probably not going to be used, so discard.” The items that remain should be the ones that bring you the most pleasure.
3. Maintain a Tidy Mindset: “Once you have selected your categories, decide where to store the items you are keeping and always put the items back where you found them.” In order to maintain that vision that you researched in #1, you need to follow through with this step.
For those who are intimidated by implementing this method, take heart. Like any methodology, what works and is helpful to one person may be different for another. Kate said she “follows 80 percent of the book very closely…Once you get into the routine of following the ‘joy’ mentality, it becomes natural to stay consistent.”
In addition to Kate’s pointers, Marjory had specific tips for creating calm and collected closed door spaces in your home:
• Closets: Arrange clothing by color and type (blouses, pants, skirts, etc). Pair shoes on a shoe rack or shelf where they are easily visible. Keep seasonal items such as sweaters in Tupperware where they are easy to access but not mixed in with the current season’s items. In the linen closet, put sheet sets in large Ziploc bags so the sets do not get mismatched.
• Cabinets: Have small, clear storage boxes designated for your medicines (cold/flu, prescription, tummy ache, etc). When travelling, use a medicine dispenser to separate any medications and vitamins that you need daily to avoid carrying around all of the bulky bottles. And as for the etcetera in your bathroom,
have boxes for nail polish paraphernalia, extra makeup, miscellaneous bath salts and other under-the-sink items that tend to get shuffled together.
Marjory recommends labeling these types of boxes. JLNO Active Kris Fortier, owner of Porter Personal Concierge Service, agrees with this practice. She is an avid labeler. Kris is frequently hired to simplify homes and get them organized. She uses many of the tactics Marjory suggested and agrees with Kate’s 1-2-3: research, toss what you do not use and keep things in their place.
Kris, a mother of two, finds this particularly helpful in children’s rooms – an area she recommends parents tackle on their own. “It is easier to wait until the children aren’t home and purge the things you know they aren’t playing with [or wearing],” Kris said. While this may seem sneaky, she said it is a sure way of getting the joyful environment your kids and you both want. They may even thank you for it.
Whether decluttering for yourself or someone else, these three women agree that a consistently tidy home leads to a joyful mentality. Their takeaways and tips are just the magic needed to create a healthful and serene vision. Cheers as you KonMari and conquer your clutter.