Declutter your space and mind and improve your productivity

Have you heard of Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant, who many spoke evangelically about her methods and how they’d transformed their lives? In case you haven’t, here’s the gist: with her little turquoise book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japenese Art of Decluttering and Organising, Kondo set off a decluttering craze across the globe.

First, put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it. Second, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to grab and then put back. Only then, Kondo says, will you have reached the nirvana of housekeeping, and never have to clean again. Once I read Kondo’s book, I got totally sucked in. It turns out, tidying really may be the way to bliss. Here’s what I learned from the decluttering bible.


Tidy by category

Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category—deal with every single one of your books at once, for example. Otherwise, they’ll continue to creep from room to room, and you’ll never rein in the clutter. She advises beginning with clothing since it’s the least emotionally loaded of one’s things (books come next, old photographs are much later).

Once I got to work, it was so much easier and more fun than I’d thought. This question of joy permits you to let go of off-color shirts bought on sale, dresses past their prime, skirts that always clung uncomfortably. I realized I had many things that seemed great in theory but weren’t my style—they’d be better on someone else’s body or in someone else’s life.

Vertical folding

Kondo’s vertical folding technique makes everything easy to spot and hard to mess up (you aren’t jostling a whole pile every time you take something out or put something back). Folded this way, clothing looks like fabric origami, ready to line your drawers in neat rows.

To keep these little folded packages standing at attention in the dresser, Kondo suggests using shoeboxes as drawer dividers. A smaller box is perfect for square scarves, a deep one can go on a bottom drawer for sweaters.

Let your closet breathe.

This is why people become evangelical about the KonMari method. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter and put things away, your dresses and skirts—the fun stuff, let’s be honest—can see the light of day. There’s breathing room between pieces, so you no longer have to do that awkward arm wrestle with the racks. All of which means you get a hit of joy—even hope!—just opening your closet, whether you’re getting ready in the morning or planning a party ensemble.

More decluttering tips yet to come…



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