One of the best ways to simplify your life is to declutter and organize. There are numerous ways to go about doing this. One of the most popular ways right now is The KonMari Method™ created by Marie Kondo, from the popular show on Netflix called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and inspired by her bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Decluttering and organizing your life doesn’t have to become this long drawn out process either. Keep reading if you want to learn how to organize your life in just one week.
The KonMari Method™ uses the idea of categories to get organized instead of just going room by room. You’ll organize by category starting with your clothing, and then you’ll work on books, papers, miscellaneous items, and then lastly sentimental items.
The idea is to touch each thing, keeping only what continues to “spark joy.” If the items don’t still spark joy, you are supposed to thank them for their service and let them go, either to a new home or the trash.
This is an excellent method for decluttering because it relies on categories instead of where things are kept. The reason it works is that in each room, you often have many categories of items that are hard to find or contain.
If you create a home for each thing and only keep the things that are useful and joyous to own, you’ll need less storage and everything will be easier to find.
Plus, by starting with clothing first, you’re tackling one of the things that often cause bottlenecks in the morning when getting dressed and out the door. By ending with sentimental items, you will allow your mind to adjust to letting go before you even get to those items.
The short story on this method is:
1. Declutter First – Take everything out so you can look at it, touch it, and remember it. Toss the trash, box up the giveaway, and put away the stuff you’re keeping.
2. Understand Your Space – It can help to take a picture before you start decluttering, and then one when it’s empty so that you can understand the space and find a good home for each thing.
3. Start with Your Clothing – Most people have too many clothes, so it’s a good place to begin letting go, finding a home for things, and practicing feeling joy and gratitude.
4. Touch, Remember, Feel Joy and Gratitude – When you are decluttering, touch each item, remember what you do with it, and feel joy and gratitude for each thing. If you’re keeping it, it’s due to joy; if you’re giving it away, it’s because you’ve got all the use out of it you can.
5. Find a Home for Everything You Keep – When you put things away, since the things you keep are special and bring joy, store them in a way that makes them seem special. Everything in a home has a place.
6. Learn to Fold Marie’s Way – This is a good folding method to learn because you can store more clothing in smaller areas without messing them up when you look for them.
7. Work on Sentimental Items Last – Go through all the categories of items and only touch the sentimental items at the end. It can take months of going through the method before you get to this, but when you are ready, it won’t be as hard.
8. Take Your Time – You don’t have to do this in one weekend if you don’t want to. You can take your time and work on each category through time. The great thing is that your kids will learn this method by watching you and do it too.
If you want to try the KonMari Method™ yourself, it’s highly advisable to get her book. The TV show is good too, but it doesn’t really explain the method as well as the book does, and you’re likely to skip steps if you don’t go through the book.
You can get it on Kindle so that you don’t have another item to make a decision about – especially since with this method, she wants you to try to keep only 30 books.
Here how to organize your life in just one week.
The Four-Box Method of Decluttering
The best thing you can do to organize your life is to declutter. Decluttering your home and life is one of the most freeing exercises you’ll do in your lifetime, especially if you’ve lived in the same place a few years. The main reason is that as you declutter, you start feeling less anxious, more hopeful, and just lighter.
Psychological studies show that clutter is a leading cause of anxiety in most people, so it makes sense that tidying up will make you feel better.
However, it can seem overwhelming to get even think about getting started. You can declutter using a variety of methods, including the KonMari Method™ mentioned in the previous email. Let’s look at another method now.
It’s called the Four-Box Decluttering Method or the 4 Container Method, and it’s one of the easiest ways to declutter.
This method is precisely what it says. You use four containers to declutter any room or area.
The four containers should be labeled as follows:
This is actual garbage. It cannot be sold, given away, or reused in any way.
2. Give Away/ Sell
This box is for things you will not keep but are in good enough shape that you can either give away or sell them.
This is for items that you do not use every day, but you do not want to part with. These items need to be put in storage like your attic or basement. It likely includes items such as out-of-season clothing, holiday decorations, and other seasonal items.
4. Put Away
These are the things you’ve decided to keep. You use them regularly, if not daily. They all need a good home to be put away in, where your home will not look cluttered. For this reason, this box should be the smallest.
Tips for Making the Four-Box Method Work for You
Think Outside the Box – Some items may not fit into the box exactly, so that’s okay; you can use a sticky note to label it one of the four labels above. Plus, consider alternative storage methods.
For example, if you have a lot of artwork from your kids, why not have it scanned so you can save it digitally?
Set Some Rules – For clothing, if you have not used the item in a full year, you probably never will. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. If it’s out of style, get rid of it. Even if it’s a gift.
If it’s something memorable like your wedding dress, consider alternative ways to remember. Setting some guidelines or rules before you start decluttering will help.
Break Up Sets – It’s tempting to keep entire “sets” of things even when you never use it. For example, if you have a Magic Bullet set that came with seven containers, but you typically only use two of them, why keep them all?
With this method, you just do one room at a time, sorting the items into the correct box or container choice and then finally putting it where it ultimately will go forever.
When you stop for one room, you’ll ideally want to throw out the trash, immediately donate or give away the stuff, put the items into storage, and then put the other things away in homes that look neat and uncluttered.
The trick here is to set a time limit for each room so that you have enough time, in the end, to deal with each box adequately.
Creative Ways to Declutter
If your area is cluttered, you can’t find things fast, and there is no space in your home, there will be no space in your mind to be creative. This can lead to anxiety. The problem is, few people like to clean. However, there are creative ways to declutter that you might want to try.
Set a Timer – Anytime you need to turn on your microwave for a minute or more is time for decluttering. When a timer has been set, use that time to get rid of clutter in one drawer or one small cabinet.
Turn Up the Jam – Anytime you want to clean up something, turn on some good dancing music. Get a basket and run around the house, collecting things that don’t belong in each room and returning them where they go.
Be Strategic – If you know that each night you want to sit in your chair to read, watch TV, play games or whatever, set that area up to contain those items without looking cluttered. Get a small decorative trash can, a little shelf to house the items, and it will look better and function more realistically.
Set Up Zones – Think of your home in zones. For example, in your living room, you may have a study zone, a game zone, a reading zone or whatever it is that you all do in that living room. If you set up zones with the right equipment, it’s easier to keep the clutter down as it’s organized.
Buy One Give One – If you buy something new, make the rule that you need to get rid of something at the same time. So, if you buy a new shirt, it needs to replace an older shirt, especially if the one you’re buying is similar.
Think Seasonally – If you have not worn clothing or used a seasonal item in a year, you’re not going to use it. Get rid of it. Even if you think you might use it in five years, it’s not worth it to keep it around taking up space.
Containerize It – In your drawers, in your cabinets, in your pantry, on your countertops, and so forth, a lot of clutter collects due to lack of smaller storage units to contain the things. If you use different types of containers that enable you to better see what you have, it helps.
Adding containers to your pantry and removing the items from what they came in will always add more space.
Memorialize It – One way to deal with clutter is to think of new ways to store things. Old photo albums can be made to take smaller spaces by digitizing the files, for example.
A beautiful blanket you use for a couple weeks in the winter can create an attractive wall hanging. Old artwork can be digitalized and turned into your screen saver for your TV, computer, or phone.
Clutter is a leading cause of anxiety according to several psychological studies. It makes sense, because one way to free your mind from anxiety is to have more free time to just think without interruption.
You can’t do that if you’re wading through your clutter. See if any of these tips help you rid your life of clutter.
Next time, we’re going to look in more detail about how to declutter clothes.
To your success in decluttering,
Most people today have so many more clothing items than they did in the past. According to a weight watcher survey, most respondents have about 200 dollars’ worth of clothing in their closet right now that they’ve never even worn.
Part of the problem is that most of us don’t even know what we have in our closets, so we tend to re-buy the things we already own or buy things that don’t match anything else. It’s all due to poor planning, bad organization, and last-minute shopping.
The good news is that you can get control of your clothing clutter and your clothes shopping with a plan.
The Hanger Experiment
It’s estimated that people tend to wear less than half their wardrobe each year. The most substantial clutter most people have is clothing, so this works great and is so simple.
They say you should get rid of clothing you don’t wear for an entire year or season, and this method is simple enough to help you weed out those clothing items over time instead of trying to guess.
All you do is put your clothing away on the hanger backward. If you wear it, put it away the right way so that it’s put away with the hanger the normal way.
After the season is over (or the year), anything not turned around the right way is things you have not worn and do not need to keep.
Faster Ways to Declutter
If you want to declutter faster, here are some ways to do that:
Dump Them All Out – Dump all your clothing from your bedroom or wherever you store it right on top of your bed. Go through each item and choose to keep, throw out, or give away.
If you have not used it in a season (or year), it should not be kept even if it fits. Deal with what you sorted right away.
Put Them Away Properly – When you have decided to keep an item, put it away properly. Hang it or fold it or store it the right way that will keep its value best depending on how often it’s to be used.
Learn to fold the Marie Kondo way so that you can store things in drawers more easily.
Use different sized containers, the right type of hangers for your closet, and other tools to put things away right.
Don’t Buy Last Minute – It’s tempting to buy things when you see them on sale. But outside of basic garments like underwear, socks, and t-shirts, it’s better not to buy things without a plan. You can still shop sales if you keep a list of what you really need and only buy those items. Plus, only buy things you genuinely love.
Store Like with Like – In your closet or dresser, all socks should be in the same place, all scarves should be together, t-shirts, hats, and so forth. When you put like with like, it makes it easier to find and less likely to mess up your system when you’re looking for things.
Donate Regularly – Keep a donation box in your closet so that you can easily add an item to the donate box when you decide you don’t want it or it doesn’t fit. Keep your receipts.
If you know what you have and can see it all due to the excellent organization you used, it’s going to be easier to find what you want to wear.
Plus it’s going to be easier to keep the clutter down. Finally, only buying things you need and love and not just because it’s on sale will help you keep the clothing clutter down.
Tips for Decluttering your Yard
Just like your home can get cluttered inside just from living your life, so can your yard. The problem with yard clutter is that often neighbors and the homeowners’ association get kind of upset about it, so it’s even more important to deal with yard clutter than what’s inside – at least if you don’t want people mad at you.
Set Up a Schedule
Like most cleaning, it should be done before things get really bad. Set up a cleaning schedule based on when you use your yard the most, and when you have time to get out there and clean up.
For example, set the alarm on your smartphone to remind you that it’s time to put the faucet covers on to prevent a freeze.
Thankfully, since everything is organized, you can reuse the covers you bought last year.
Set Up Yard Zones
Depending on the size of your yard, each area should be set up for an activity.
For example, a volleyball area, or a horseshoe area, a pet area, a grilling area, a child play area, and so forth. You want the child play area to be different than the pet area for obvious reasons. By setting up these specific areas, you won’t have to clean poop out of the entire yard.
Keep Each Area Organized
If each area has a designated function, it’s easier to keep the space organized with the right containers and storage solutions.
For example, if you have a beautiful outdoor eating area, a picnic table with storage in the seats may come in handy for putting things away.
Buy the Right Containers and Storage Solutions
Buy the right types of solution for your outdoor space that are made for outdoors for your area.
For example, if you want to keep your watering hose ready for use, get a solution which looks nice and that enables the hose to be wrapped up and put away when not in use. Find ways to hide trash receptacles or unsightly pool cleaning equipment or gardening tools.
Create Decluttering Habits to Keep It Up
Teach everyone who uses the yard to put things back where they go and cart the trash to the garbage right away. If everyone makes it a habit to bring in one thing that doesn’t go out there (including trash) anytime they go out, it’ll be a lot cleaner and less cluttered at all times. As a result, you’ll have fewer times you need to have a cleaning day, and you can just enjoy it.
You want to live in your yard and do fun things, but you want it to look good too. Plus, it’s not fun if you cannot find the tools and fun equipment that you know you bought to use that one time.
Might as well work on keeping the yard decluttered, organized, and ready for fun. It’ll save time and even money because you won’t ruin or lose what you have.
Tips for Decluttering your Garage
Did you know that half the people who own a home with a garage cannot park their cars in the garage because of all the clutter they have inside? This is sad because having your car in the garage maintains its value longer due to keeping it out of the elements.
Plus, it’s much more pleasant to get into your car from the garage on bad weather days.
Follow these garage decluttering tips so that you can use your garage for what it’s meant for: protecting your car.
Install the Right Storage Solutions – After you’ve gone through your stuff and know what you are keeping, put like things with like. Then look for reasonable storage solutions that really work.
Don’t try to be cheap about this part as it’s not even that expensive. It’s a lot more expensive not to store the things you care about properly.
Add the Right Type of Heavy-Duty Shelves – Many people treat their garage as sort of an experiment by throwing shelving in there that is not safe or sturdy.
This is a bad idea because it won’t work right and it’s dangerous. Install the right type of shelves that will hold up to what you’re going to put on them.
Don’t Forget the Wall – The wall in your garage is a great place to store things. You can install a pegboard that enables you to put your tools right on the wall, as well as add other types of shelving and solutions directly to the pegboard.
Use Overhead Storage Too – For sports equipment and all sorts of solutions, overhead storage is a great way to use up that space in the garage. You can literally keep everything from the center of the parking area with overhead solutions.
Throw Out Garbage Immediately – Keep a garbage receptacle in the garage that enables you to toss any garbage right to the trash when you need to. Don’t keep any garbage just laying around in there.
A Home for Everything and Everything in Its Home – Look at all your stuff and device homes for each thing. If you have a home for each item, it’s much easier to keep the garage decluttered and organized.
For example, if sports equipment goes on that shelf or in a container, it’s easy to find if everyone puts it there – every time. Labels can help.
Consider Adding a Seating Area – If you or your kids are often using the garage to get in and out of sporting gear, having a nice seating area with storage underneath can add usefulness to the space.
Value of Stuff Versus Value of Space – As you go through your stuff in the garage, consider whether the thing you want to keep is worth the space.
For example, if you have 45 chairs stored because you used to have reunions at your house yearly and you don’t now, get rid of them.
Set Up a Cleaning / Decluttering Schedule – Once you get it organized and have everything in its home, take a picture so that everyone in the house knows what an organized and clean garage looks like.
Then set up a schedule that includes everyone to do a task that helps keep it decluttered at least monthly.
It’s nice to have the extra space in your garage to keep things outside of your house, but it’s also nice to be able to put your cars in your garage to keep them protected and maintain the value of these large purchases.
Plus, consider the fact that relics stored in boxes in the garage really aren’t being enjoyed as sentimental mementos anyway. Let them go or make a home for them. You’ll be glad you did.
Tips for Decluttering your Attic
Keeping your attic decluttered may not be at the top of your list of something exciting to do. However, when you take the time to declutter your attic, you’ll bring back much-needed space, reduce fire hazards, and you’ll actually be able to start using the things you do keep because you’ll be able to find them.
Get All the Stuff Out of There
This part may seem horrible, but the best way to declutter your attic is to remove everything from the attic first. There may be things in there that you had no idea even existed.
Remember that if you have not used it in a year or more, you likely won’t want to put it back anyway, so you’ll end up gaining a lot of space by clearing it out.
Sort All the Stuff
Once you get everything out, sort it. You’ll want to differentiate a space or boxes for trash, give away, and keep. Some of the things you may decide to keep inside the house instead of in the attic.
The attic should be used for things that are seasonal and not for everyday items. For example, if you only use that four-pot crockpot warmer in the holidays, it should go in the attic.
Place a Value on Your Space
Once you see what your attic looks like empty, figure out if you can set up zones in the attic for the type of stuff you have. Place a value on the space that you have so that you can determine better what to keep and what to get rid of.
There would be no point storing all that furniture in there, for example – even if your granddaddy made it, if you’re not going to use it.
Get Rid of the Stuff You Aren’t Keeping
Once you’ve sorted the stuff, it’s time to get rid of everything you’re not keeping. If it’s for donation, call them to pick it up or deliver it. If it’s to give to a friend, get it to them right away.
If it’s for the trash, get rid of it now. Don’t wait around because you may never do it.
Find the Right Storage Solutions for Stuff You Are Keeping
You may need clear plastic containers with lids, shelving, or a tension rod if you want to hang clothing in the attic. It helps to first look at the things you need to store and then buy the right solutions for those items.
The more airtight you can make the solution, the better protected your items will be inside your attic.
The attic is often not a very pleasant place to walk around, so you don’t want to take much time finding things. Keep a label in the same spot on the storage solutions that has an inventory of what is inside.
You can copy that and put it in a binder so that you can quickly tell anyone where to find whatever it is that you want up there.
Once you finish decluttering your attic, set up a cleaning schedule to do it again at least yearly for the first five years. The reason is that you’ll have more things you can get rid of next year when you see that you’ve not touched them for the whole year.
After doing it yearly for a few years, you can probably change the schedule to be every five years and maintain an uncluttered attic.
A good – and necessary – time to declutter is when you’re moving house.
Decluttering Before Moving
One of the best things about moving is that you are often forced to look at your stuff and declutter. After all, if you’re going to pack anyway, you may as well get rid of clutter and unused items now rather than pack them and unpack them in the new place.
Let’s look at some pre-moving decluttering tips that will make your move more pleasurable.
Take Enough Time – As soon as you know that you are moving, start the decluttering process. You can do it in two weeks but if you can do it in a year, that will make it even easier than doing it fast. When you work in smaller chunks of time, you’ll make a big impact without killing yourself.
Start Using Your Stockpiles – Most of us tend to stock up on things like shampoo, laundry detergent, toilet paper, and so forth. Go ahead and start using your stockpiles to whittle down this stuff. You really don’t want to pay for space in a moving truck to move it.
Check Expiration Dates – On meds, food, and anything you want to keep, check the expiration dates. If it’s expired, get rid of it. If you’ve lived in your home for a while, you may be shocked to find out that you’re using years-expired medications and that the mustard is four years old.
Get Out Your Boxes – You can do the box method for this if you have enough time. Give your kids a box or a garbage bag and challenge them to fill it up. Give them a box for donations and ask them to fill it up to donate stuff. You get the idea.
Use the KonMari Method™ – As mentioned earlier, her method involves going through your items by category, starting with clothing and ending with mementos. Using this method, you can get through your home in a few weeks without breaking a sweat.
But if you want to do the decluttering in a couple of weeks, you may do better with the box method.
Organize Garage Sales – Moving garage or yard sales are a good way to get rid of some of the useful stuff that you don’t want to take with you: the clothing you have not worn in years, kitchen items you never use, extra sets of things you don’t need or use.
If you start soon enough, you can have a series of garage sales based on where you are in the process instead of just one.
Decluttering before moving will save you both time and money. It’s costly to rent a moving truck so the more stuff you can eliminate and consolidate before moving day, the better off you’ll be. Plus, when you move your stuff into your new home, it won’t start off cluttered.
It’s easy to put off decluttering simply because of the volumes and amount of work involved.
Tips to Avoid Overwhelm When Decluttering
Depending on how long you’ve waited to start the decluttering process, you may be feeling overwhelmed and stressed out about doing it. After all, when you look at everything to do from start to finish, it can seem like too much.
However, understand that you are not alone. You can get help. But most of all, you don’t have to force it. You can take your time. Use some of these tips to help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed while decluttering.
Take Your Time – You don’t have to declutter your home in one day or even a week. Instead, you can do it over the entire year; if you want to start with one drawer and work your way up to entire rooms, you can.
Tackle Something That Affects Your Daily Life – If there is a disorganization or clutter issue that causes bottlenecks in your daily life, fix that first. For example, if you and your family have trouble getting out the door in the morning without stress, sort out that problem first.
Start Small – We already mentioned taking your time and focusing on things that affect your life, and now let’s talk about starting small. Clearing and organizing one counter or one cabinet in your life will make a big difference since it will add up over time.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – While it’s fun to get motivation from pictures online, don’t compare yourself to others. One person may be super-happy not having more than 30 books in their collection at any one time. However, that might not work for you, and that’s okay.
Be Realistic – If you live in 450 square feet, it’s not going to be the same as if you lived in 2000 square feet. You may not have room to keep that rock collection from elementary school unless you can figure out a nice way to display it where it’s out of the way.
Make a Personalized Plan – After getting inspiration from others, take the time to write down a personalized plan for your decluttering journey. If you are overwhelmed or worried, your plan should take into consideration the things that cause you to feel that way so that you can work around them.
Journal Your Feelings – Depending on how long it’s been since you decluttered your life, it might be a very emotional thing you go through. Consider journaling your feelings if you’re having a rough time going through it.
Get Started – Once you have your plan developed, get started and don’t delay. Thinking about it is often more overwhelming than doing it if you have a plan.
If you are still having trouble getting started with decluttering, consider hiring a professional organizer who is used to dealing with people who are having issues decluttering.
Remember that you don’t have to do things the way someone else does them. You only need to do what works for you. If you are bothered by the clutter around you, and you are thinking about it a lot but haven’t done anything about it, it’s essential to understand that your issues with the clutter will always be there until you do something about it.
Just get started with one thing at a time, and within a year you’ll have succeeded.
Sentimental clutter can be particularly difficult to get rid of, for obvious reasons.
How to Reduce your Sentimental Clutter
One of the hardest things to declutter is anything sentimental to you. That can be something as simple as old movie tickets or something as important as your child’s first shoes or all those gifts they made you at school growing up.
It might also include pictures, family movies, and family heirlooms that have no value other than that they belonged to a family member who valued them.
It’s hard, emotional, and can be quite the rollercoaster of emotion trying to reduce this sentimental clutter. However, if you can let go of the guilt of doing it, you’re going to gain more space, more time, and freedom from stuff.
Let’s go through ways in which you can reduce your sentimental clutter without having a nervous breakdown or feeling guilty.
Is It Really Worth Keeping? – When you start going through your sentimental stuff, it’s important to ask yourself whether it’s worth keeping or not. If you cannot easily enjoy it, and it’s just going to be in a box, what is the point?
Can You Store It Digitally? – This works great for kids’ artwork, but you can do it with larger gifts too. If you aren’t using it, why not take a picture of it and store it with other memories digitally?
Why Do I Want It? – One thing to ask yourself is why you want it. If you want it because you feel guilty tossing it, let that go. If you want it because someone you love gave it to you, think that through because as discussed above, you can save a memory of it instead of saving the thing itself.
Can I Break Up the Set? – Maybe you have a relative’s collection and you simply don’t have love or space for it, but you do like one or two things from the collection. Break up the set and give away or sell the others, and keep only what you like and can display nicely.
Can You Display It Creatively? – As mentioned, keeping things in a box in the attic isn’t really a good way to save mementos. Instead, you want to be able to see them and enjoy them.
Can you figure out a way to display the items creatively so that it becomes art on its own?
For example, using some of your child’s artwork to decoupage an old dresser is a wonderful way to use and save that work.
Does Someone Else Want It? – If it’s sentimental, it might be to someone else in your family as well. Talk to them about whether they want it or not. If they had it, where would they put it, and how would they use it or enjoy it?
That desk your daddy made isn’t getting used in your garage, but if your sister wants it and is going to use it, let her have it.
Dealing with Photographs – While photos are a great way to remember things often, we have many more than we need. Consider digitizing your photos and only saving the best shots, even digitally.
Do you really need 50 shots of Mount Rushmore? Or can you save that one photo of the group shot with the mountain behind you?
Dealing with Gifts without Guilt – If someone gives you a gift that you neither like nor use, you should not feel bad about getting rid of it. A gift is something that you are allowed to do with what you want, and most of the time, no one will ask.
If the gift is a family heirloom, make sure to give it to someone in the family to avoid hard feelings.
Letting go of sentimental clutter can be very emotional. It’s hard to let go of things you bought or things that bring back memories of what was. However, if things are to be sentimental, there should be fewer items so that their value is higher.
Plus, what’s sentimental about stuffing things in a box and putting in the garage never to be seen again until your kids clean it out after your death? Things are meant to be enjoyed, so make sure you are really enjoying the sentimental items you own.
Now that you know how to organize your life, start organizing!
To your success in organizing and decluttering.