What may you have in common with Al Roker, Marie Kondo and ShipShape Organize?

…and at times, what seems like ½ of America!  If you are looking to declutter and organize, you are not the only one.

The New Year is abuzz with organizing resolutions and Marie Kondo’s Netflix series.  Al Roker committed to declutter as his New Year’s resolution, and Kondo is making her way into homes and giving us a glimpse of the clutter her clients face.

Everyone’s talking. I overheard a woman mentioning the Kondo episodes to a friend; facebook friends are commenting that they are inspired; and I received an e-mail from a client saying “I’m in one of those moods again.”  When I opened the email, she says “a mood where I want to throw everything in my house OUT! Tchotchkes are bugging, too many things blah blah blah!”

Marie Kondo has obviously generated a big buzz and is bringing light upon a very old issue.  Too much clutter. I have watched half her series and will probably watch them all by this weekend.  What is it that makes us so intrigued about other people’s clutter?

Here are 10 take-aways from Marie Kondo’s Netflix series.

  • Best to commit.  Organizing is a long process, takes a lot of energy and you need to set aside time to tackle the organizing projects.  There is instant gratification, but there is no quick fix. Kondo’s shows go into days and weeks and present the reality of decluttering.  Yesterday, we were on Day One with a client who wants to organize her kitchen to 3rd floor. Her husband happened to walk in mid-day to grab some lunch.  He could barely make his way from the front door to the refrigerator because we had so many boxes and piles around.  I hear my business partner say “it always gets worse before it gets better” While that was probably some comfort, I’m sure his initial reaction was not one of “joy”!  Hopefully at 7:00 last night when he returned, he was amazed at the transformation because the kitchen counters were completely cleared off, the dining room table was no longer buried under “stuff”, and his wife was ecstatic with the progress she had made.  When we left, the dining room table had two candles and a decorative table runner and went from chaos to an actual table where they could eat dinner. It was a lot of hard work on her part. Did we get to the second and third floor that same day? A complete house transformation?  Definitely not. It takes time.
  • Vision.  Every single client of ours has home decorating magazines and most look at those magazines and say “that is what I want”.  When a client starts to melt down through the process after hours of work, I always tell them to remember the end goal for the space.  Know why you are embarking on the organizing challenge. Do you want to be able to enjoy family more, relax in your own home, find your belongings so you aren’t always late for an appointment or bill to be paid? Keep the vision and you’ll be encouraged to keep going. Kondo asks her clients “why they want to start this organizing journey” at her first consultation which is very important.  You have to want to take the challenge and be all in.
  • Sort by Categories?  Marie Kondo’s first session is always facing the clothes.  She tells clients to gather every single piece of clothing and put it on the bed.  My guess is she hopes they will be shocked by what they find that they haven’t seen in a long while and by the sheer volume.  This in turn hopefully inspires them to let go. Kondo asks them to say thank you to clothing that does not spark joy and begin a donate pile.  We do the same with our clients specifically when it comes to clothes. We often go a step further by pulling out pants first. It is helpful to see how many pairs of black pants one has in order to make an educated decision on what to donate – too short, too long, too wide in the hips, too tight in the hips.  All these factors help the decision making process and when you see 20 pairs of similar pants in front of you it is easier to pick the ones that fit you well and that you feel good in.
  • Blessing the home.  This is a first which I have not seen yet, nor practiced.  Afterall, I do live in New England! However, I do understand the home should be appreciated and why closing your eyes and having a peaceful moment at the beginning of a session can give you the courage and focus needed.  When our clients get overwhelmed, and trust me this happens a lot, it is beneficial to take a break and walk away for a while, or just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Think how relaxing and centering yoga can be. It’s the same concept.  
  • Folding Clothes?  Yes, in certain drawers it is beneficial to have your t-shirts all standing up so you can see the different colors and the favorite pink one is not buried at the bottom.  Is it sustainable during busy lives? I am not so sure. Confession of an organizer, I throw my socks into a basket. They are not neatly in a row in a drawer. After all, it needs to be easy at times. However, with t-shirts the Kondo method works.
  • Containers.  Kondo uses boxes as sectionals in drawers which is great, especially when it comes to sorting small items from batteries to hair accessories.  We use them all the time and an iphone box often finds a new life when we organize.
  • Celebrate the accomplishments.  Encouragement goes a long way, and it helps to have someone tell you that your progress is fantastic.  Kondo is constantly returning to clients’ homes to see their progress and praising the hard work that it takes.  Congratulate yourself at the end of an organizing session!
  • Permission to let go.  It is clear in every episode that Kondo asks her clients to see what sparks joy and thank the items that no longer do.  In a nutshell, she gives them permission to let go and expects them to do so! It’s ok and actually rewarding to let go of items you no longer use or need.
  • Teaching.  Marie Kondo teaches her clients how to organize on their own.  If you don’t get involved in organizing your home, it doesn’t accomplish the real goal which is to have you take ownership of the organizing process now and in the future.
  • Team Effort.  When it comes to organizing a family home, everyone must be involved for it to be successful.  Kondo does a good job of bringing the family into the process, even if it is a child trying to fold a piece of clothing.

I thank Marie Kondo for bringing light to our profession, but most importantly, for inspiring so many to make a change.  Yes, it is a TV show with an edited glimpse into families lives, but my guess is everyone who watches the show can find some aspect that resonates with them.  It is hard to walk away without evaluating our own lifestyle. Her clients inspire viewers to make a similar change and give them a sense that there can be an end to what may be causing them so much stress.  At the end of every show, the message is clear. Kondo’s clients are happier with less and maybe you will be as well.  If you need help, check out our organizing services.  We’d love to hear how you are inspired by decluttering.