Who is Marie Kondo? She's an organizing consultant, but truthfully who she is doesn't matter. She's like Batman. It's the idea of Marie Kondo that matters now.
Marie's name is Google-able because she wrote the book on being... well tidy is a good word for it. Indulgently anal-retentive may be a different way of seeing it. But whether you land on the side of the fence that enjoys organization, or the kind that finds strict organization enraging, odds are you can use some of her tips.
No need to "take joy" in being nice and neat, in other words. We're just trying to clean up and make our lives more efficient here.
Literally though, Marie wrote the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing". Apparently everything is an art that a person can devote their entire life to, turns out.
Alright guys, I get it. You sense the condescension in my tone with regards to Marie. That's because she talks about things like making your clothes 'happy' and thinking about what they want and how they want to be stored and organized.
That's a trick to make children get clean. We're grown. Here are the best tips and techniques Marie has for getting rid of your clutter, with some added cynicism about Marie's... adorable habit of ascribing human qualities to clothes.
Fold Clothes Instead of Hanging
Marie thinks for some reason that folding your clothes and smashing them close to each other like sardines in a drawer makes them happy. In my book, it gets rid of hangers, and makes clothes easy to grab.
Biggest advantage here is that the clothes get stacked so that nothing is ever on top of anything else. Smart.
If you have drawers, you're ready to go with this process. It's what dressers were made for. Admit it, you've been using your dresser way wrong.
For some easy to follow instructions and gifs on the folding process, check out this guide at Goop.com.
Getting rid of stuff feels great. If you disagree with me, I hear you. I understand your pain. I was you. Then I moved like ten times in as many years if not more, and now I neither own nor miss any of the stupid nick-nacks that I easily could have convinced myself were "important" over the years.
Here's the thing: it's sooooo good to stop moving the nick nacks around. Stop reorganizing them, because nick-nacks often take up space, but don't really have a natural space to go into.
Marie asks you to do all this by picking up everything you own and trying to determine if holding it gives you any joy.
If you are not a very materialistic person, this might be tough for you. To Marie, holding a fancy skirt might bring her joy, while to you holding your fanciest skirt might just feel like holding the skirt you use when you're impressing new people. It's a tool. It has a use. It doesn't need to bring you joy.
Instead of using Marie's method of trying to feel joy by holding your stuff, I tend to side with the good old fashioned question: have I used this in the last year?
If that doesn't work here's the follow up: will I use this in the next year?
GET RID OF IT.
Clothes, office supplies, all that junk. Do you use it? That's all you need to know to make your space efficient. Please don't keep your old 2GB R2-D2 thumb drive because it 'gives you joy'.
By Category, Not By Room
If you have found that organizing one room at a time isn't doing the trick for you, you should attempt a new strategy. Marie recommends tackling things by category.
You're not cleaning your room, you're doing all clothes.
You're not cleaning your office, you're organizing all your books.
See where this helps? Over time, office stuff winds up in the living room and bedroom, and vice versa.
Most of us already use this strategy when doing the dishes. We sweep the house for any dirty dishes. This is the technique we're going to apply to everything else. This means one day you might just do books. Then the next day you might just do paperwork.
What this does in my mind is keep you from getting distracted. When you decide to clean one whole room, you may often be in the middle of folding clothes when you get distracted by your messy desk.
Everything In Its Place
The final big technique offered by Marie is to have a place for everything you've kept after all this organizing. Knowing for sure where everything goes and keeping it there.
AKA, the oldest organization tip in the book. Nothing tricky here, just being sure that when you clean, you know where things go. If you have to make it up as you go every time you clean, cleaning is going to take more time.
Also make sure you pick a spot for new belongings.
If you go to find a place for something and you've run out of space, it's time to purge again.
What? What warning? I thought we were organizing stuff...
Well, there's a warning. I gotta circle back on this whole 'joy' thing, just in case you go out and look into the method on your own and get sold on the concept.
Yes, there is a reason to consider the personal happiness you get from an item you own. However, the idea of pursuing joy in your belongings is a dreadfully American concept and encourages the collection of exactly the kind of items that will make your living space cluttered.
LEGOs still bring me joy. Should I keep my LEGOs?
My baby shoes probably brought my mother joy, should she have kept them all?
Pursuing joy in every belonging is not good or bad, but in our modern social climate I believe it's only fair to warn you that this concept of finding 'joy' in clothes is not one that is likely to truly help you if you are looking for efficiency. It's going to be an excuse you use to keep things you don't need.
And with that, I'm out. Get out there and get organized folks!