An Organizational Journey

The KonMari cleaning method

The idea of purging your home of unwanted clutter isn’t new. People have been donating bags of clothes, trinkets and more for years, but the idea of finding more organization in your life has become even more popular with the birth of the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which is based on her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

On May 17, Abby Fritz, of the organizing firm Around the House, talked about the Marie Kondo method of cleaning – KonMari – as well as Swedish death cleaning during a program at the Kress Pavilion, “Spark Joy 101.” Fritz’s program went over the two styles before she shared her top tips for staying organized.

Inspired by my own attempt at an organizational journey and the Pulse article last week by Paula Apfelbach on using vertical spaces for storage, I decided to tackle my closet and drawers using one of the methods discussed in Fritz’s program.

After giving it some thought, I found the KonMari method to be the easiest to follow when dealing with clothes. Here are its main concepts:

• Visualize your ideal lifestyle
• Sort by category, not room
• Does it spark joy?
• Discard first, store later
• Find a home for everything

Here are my thoughts on this method, broken down into each step.

Visualize your ideal lifestyle

Honestly, I skipped this step. I’m currently inhabiting just one room that’s pretty much used only for sleeping, so the idea of organizing a room I don’t use much based on a “lifestyle” didn’t seem necessary.

Sort by category, not room

In past organizing adventures, I’ve usually gone room to room. It helped to contain my project to one space in case I didn’t have time to work on an entire house.

The purpose of going through your things by category helps you to see the mass of items you have, which, hopefully, will shock you into purging. I was very surprised by my own pile of clothes after pulling everything out of my drawers and closet.

Does it spark joy?

I have mixed feelings here. The purpose is to determine which items are most important to you, and this is where my problem comes in: I tend to be a little overly sentimental when it comes to my stuff – my clothes especially. Although the clothes may not spark joy anymore, the memories do.

The discards after the purge.

So instead, I went with my tried-and-true method: Have I worn this in the last year? This method might be a little more clinical, but it helps me to get rid of items quickly without overthinking past experiences in that outfit.

Discard first, store later

This step is very important and hearkens back to Apfelbach’s article last week: “Purge thoroughly before you make, beg, borrow or buy any kind of storage apparatus because you don’t have to store what you no longer own.”

After you decide what to keep, you’re left with a pile of items to deal with. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. With the pile of items you have left – in my case, clothes – I would suggest donate and trash options. (Consignment shops are also a possibility for nice items.) This results in fewer items to store.

Find a home for everything

This step is where you can start to implement some serious organizational systems. You have to make sure everything has a home, or things are liable to get cluttered again.

As I had just done some large-scale reorganization of my room, my focus was on how I stored what was left and where. I kept my closet pretty simple by color-coding like items using my hangers.

As far as my drawers went, I did try the famous KonMari folding style but found it to be time-consuming. There isn’t too much in those drawers now, and my old stacking method will work just fine.

I enjoyed the KonMari method as a whole, mostly because when everything has a home, it’s easy to spot things that are out of place and know exactly where to put them back.

At the end of Fritz’s program, she highlighted what I think is the most important aspect of organizing: put systems in place that are realistic for you. Getting organized is great, but if you’re never going to keep it up because you don’t like the organizational system, what’s the point?

Talking to others about your organizational goals can be the inspiration you need to start or maintain your work. Hopefully this has helped to inspire some new cleaning goals. I will use it as a reason to be accountable for my own.

Happy cleaning!