Photo by Z. Constantinos

Collect, Clump, Stay, Go

A little over a year ago I was introduced to a book by Marie Kondo that was destined to become a cultural phenomenon: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

The book has many followers, and even Facebook groups dedicated to it.

While the book is small and easily digestible, not everyone is interested in reading a book on organizing. The claim by the book’s adherents is that “tidying up” your space via the method outlined in the book will change your life for the better in ways you cannot even imagine.

If you’re like me, a claim like that induces a “yeah, right” response. So I’ll leave it to you to evaluate if decluttering and organizing can help you achieve such a transformation. However, I’ve noticed organizing—and staying organized—is much easier now that I’ve put the book’s principles into action. Here are four of them:

1 Begin streamlining items by hunting down all “like” items, such as every single writing implement you own—pens, pencils, markers, you name it—and putting them all in one place. For example, don’t organize clothes while they’re in your closet. Instead, lay out all clothing articles so you have a firm idea of how much you really own.

2 Assess if an item should be kept or discarded by asking if it “sparks joy” in you. If not, no matter how much you think you should keep it, thank it for its service and let it go.

3 Pare down items in a single shot. Sometimes you’ll end up doing another edit later on, but don’t put items in a “maybe” pile. Keep it simple: If it sparks joy it stays, if it doesn’t it goes.

4 Store items by category, not by where or how often they are used.

While paring items is essential to keeping clutter under control, storing items by category makes them much easier to locate. Now I don’t need to check multiple drawers and cabinets to find Tylenol when a headache hits because all my medicines are in the medicine cabinet where they belong. Seems keeping things at arm’s length wasn’t doing me any favors after all!