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Spring Cleaning Inspired By Marie Kondo

Spring Cleaning Inspired By Marie Kondo
What Sparks Joy?

I’ve lived in my home for nearly 14 years, and I’ve attempted to declutter it for almost that long. Can you relate? I’ve done a decluttering project every year, twice a year, and I still don’t have it right. I try to go a little further and get rid of more stuff I’m not using each time.

Last month I was embarking on yet another organization project when I heard about a series on Netflix called “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” Have you watched it? Organizational guru Marie Kondo visits people’s homes and teaches them how to organize their lives, encouraging them to keep only those things that “spark joy.” Some of Kondo’s tips are very helpful, and it’s interesting to see how she teaches tidying.

Kondo visits homes in varying states of clutter and disarray. Seeing some of the messier homes, I found myself thinking, “How do they live like that?” Then I had to turn the mirror around. If someone came into my house, they could very well think the same thing. I consider my home to be very clean, but as I shared, it’s also cluttered.

One of my recent projects was my garage. It was so full of random items that we couldn’t fit our cars into it. It felt like a black hole — somehow everything got pulled in there. When my daughters started driving, they had nowhere to put their cars. “Enough,” I thought. It was time to tackle it.

I started by buying a hanging organizational system so that every item would have a dedicated place to be stored other than the floor. I bought hooks, baskets, and shelves for the hanging system to accommodate items of different sizes and shapes. Next, I got rid of anything I knew I wouldn’t be using anytime soon. I laid out all of the items and grouped them with similar things.

That’s when I found out I have a lifetime supply of bungee cords — those handy things had been purchased multiple times in the past, and it’s a great case in point as to why Kondo and others suggest clear containers, because you can clearly see what you have. The final step was having the garage power washed. What a difference that made!

I’m happy to share that, after our garage being a huge source of chaos and stress for years, we’ve finally gotten it to a point where it’s functional! It feels so good to have it cleaned out. Inspired by Kondo’s show — and tired of my own failures in achieving the organized home I desired — I wrote down some of the takeaways that helped me tackle it.

  1. Decide what your end result should be. This goes beyond a clean and organized house; it should be more specific. It might be, “I don’t want clothes to be left in the living room,” or, “I don’t want our athletic equipment to be stored in the guest bedroom.” How do you want the room to look when you’re done?
  2. List your projects, but only tackle one at a time. Make one weekend about only the garage or the closet. Don’t try to do too much all at once.
  3. Prepare for a project before you start it. Get trash bags, boxes, tape, and any other items you might need and actually lay them out where they will be easily accessible to you as you work. Make space to work in the area you’ll be organizing.
  4. Call for donation pickup before you start. Having this arranged before you start will ensure that you don’t end up with the same clutter in a different location. I couldn’t exactly relate to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of picking up every item and asking myself if it brought me joy, but I made a conscious effort to decide how important it was to keep each item.
  5. Everything must have a place BEFORE you start. Decide EXACTLY where you will be putting the items you are keeping. I can’t tell you how many times I have moved the same items from one place to another without ever really finding them a home. And if you can’t find the right place for them, the donation box might just be it.
  6. Celebrate your successes! Then set an example. My daughters constantly reminded me that most of the clutter was mine and clearly that gave them no incentive not to leave their stuff around. It’s harder for them to leave clutter in a clean and organized space.

Our clean garage was definitely cause for celebration, though it is just one step in this process. There is still clutter in my home just waiting to be dealt with but, as I said, one project at a time. Each success motivates me to continue on. Have you seen Marie Kondo’s show? How do you tackle tidying?

Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein, LLP

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