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Marie Made Me Do It

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True life confession: I watched Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo a few weeks ago and couldn’t make it through the first episode before I felt compelled to clear out my entire closest. Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organizing are having a cultural moment. Not only has her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” sold over 11 million copies, but it seems everyone, my father included,* has watched at least one episode of her Netflix series.

And I’m here for it. While I haven’t read her book yet, I binge-watched the show and loved every minute of it. Marie is the sweetest woman full of no-nonsense organization philosophies. And while I don't agree with all of her strategies, I definitely relate to the notion that having an organized and uncluttered home helps you feel calm, motivated, and inspired. 

For me, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of donating clothing I never wear or household items I no longer need, and I’m more motivated than ever to tidy every nook and cranny after watching her show. Here are some ideas on how to declutter and start the new year tidy, whether you are already a certified OCD neat freak or the lead star in your personal movie, “Where the eff is my left shoe?”

Kristina

*I may or may not have forced him to watch, but two weeks later, I received a picture of his socks neatly folded and organized by color. I’m a proud daughter. 

Clothing

A major pillar of Marie’s method is to organize by category, not room. She encourages starting the tidying process with clothing because it's the most disposable. Specifically, Marie wants you to take every single piece of clothing you own and place it into a giant pile. This is a bit extreme and I think you should totally allow yourself to adjust and work in phases -- if you don't have the time or space to do it all at once, make it work for you! However, moving homes forces you to go through this exercise, and as someone who has moved at least once every few years for the last decade, I do understand why Marie encourages gathering everything together if possible.  

As you begin to sort, pick up each clothing item individually and see if it sparks joy. If you have a utilitarian view on clothing, it can be a stretch to feel emotions from a shirt, but starting with my absolute favorite and least favorite items helped me out. Work to sort clothing into three piles: to keep, to donate (I love using thredUP cleanout kits; they do all the work for you!), and to recycle/ trash. The goal is to not waste effort on clothing you no longer want or need. 

Once you've discarded, it's time to put things away. My favorite part of the clothing advice Marie gives is in her folding technique -- it's life-changing. She outlines a specific way of folding each item of clothing and storing everything upright. The beauty is when you arrange everything horizontally in a row, not vertically in a column, you can easily view, appreciate, and make use of all your clothing.

Paper

Paper is so challenging! Especially when you receive nonstop junk mail and catalogs like me. Besides the obvious (enroll in electronic delivery methods for communications whenever possible), I learned a helpful tip from the TODAY Show recently: Only let yourself touch mail once. Basically, whenever I bring in my mail, I give myself a few minutes to instantly decide whether it’s something I can recycle/ shred, something I need to act on, or something I can file away. 

Marie recommends storing paper under three similar categories: Paper that needs attention (bills to be paid), paper you need to keep short-term (warranties), and paper you need to keep forever (contracts), which is an all-inclusive and helpful way to store. If you're looking to cut down on the amount of mail coming in altogether, I’ve heard great things about PaperKarma, a service that helps you unsubscribe from mail. I really need to try it!

Komono

What does Komono mean? Basically everything in your junk drawers. This group of miscellaneous items is the largest and most difficult to tackle. Marie recommends breaking it down by sub-categories, and following the same process as clothing: Take everything out of drawers/off shelves, put it in one pile, sift through one at a time, and see what sparks joy. Once you've discarded the items you no longer need, you can ensure everything you keep has a home, organized neatly by category. 

For me, most of the komono items originate in the kitchen and bathroom. Since I live in an apartment, even after the discarding process, it was challenging to store everything in a neat and tidy way. During the Netflix series, this is when Marie typically brings her large goody box, which is full of boxes of all shapes and sizes to help you store like items together seamlessly. In place of Marie's magic boxes, I've had my eye on these Container Store goodies to truly maximize my space:
  • Spice rack: Utilize the cabinet door instead of taking up precious cabinet shelf space
  • Cupboard shelves: Magically create more space with these sturdy organizers 
  • Cookware rack: Similar to clothing, stacking vertically with this tool makes it so much easier to grab and go
  • Drawer organizers: Perfect size for makeup or office items
  • Acrylic makeup bins: Easily stackable and viewable
  • Clear lipstick caps: So you no longer need to waste time opening each lipstick individually

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