Did you notice this recurring segment on “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”:
in each episode there are scenes where the adult female in the house begins the Konmari method with a tour of shame, apologizing for the messes and pointing out embarrassing spots?
Some women on the show were worse than others (and yes, sometimes it was a man) but it was definitely a common theme. I noticed right away because this happens to me every time I go in someone’s house to organize and work with them.
On one hand it makes a lot of sense. I mean you wouldn’t go to the doctor and not demonstrate the ailment you are having, right? So when an organizer comes over you want to show us where it hurts, too.
Do you feel your pain would be eased if you had more storage space? Or if you had a bigger house altogether?
Do you think the konmari method will help your pain?
Can you pinpoint the areas giving you the most trouble?
Would you feel better if your family helped you more?
Does the idea of getting rid of 80% of your household possessions scare you or fill you with glee?
There are about 10 thousand books on these topics. I’ve read many of them in my organizing and productivity research. (I highly recommend both “New Order” and “The Not So Big Life”.)
From research and from hands-on experience I believe The best way to combat this negative feeling in our houses is to change our entire attitude about our stuff. Click To Tweet
If life is 90% attitude and 10% what actually happens (Charles Swindoll)*, then maybe our homelife is only 10% what we have and 90% how we feel about what we have.
How do we change our attitude toward our stuff?
Yes, start with a purge
Going through a process like the Konmari method is a great way to jump-start this new outlook on your stuff. Let’s face it, if you pick up every. single. item. in the house and really consider how you feel about them, the journey will change you! You will end up light years ahead of where you began in terms of awareness toward what you own.
Need more inspiration? Get Organized Already has a clutter challenge video series (20 minutes a day) on YouTube which will give you more specific direction for each category in the house. (Click here to learn more about the Clutter Challenge.)
Once you have only things you love and use around you, drink up the feeling. Take pictures to remember how is feels and how it looks.
Be thoughtful (so thoughtful) about what you bring home
Embrace the new empty spaces in your house. Revel in them. Enjoy them. They represent time and energy you are not spending on caring for and worrying about stuff.
Having some empty space in a drawer or in an entire room may feel scary at first. You might want to fill it up! Combat that urge with these principles and ideas.
- Remember how much time it took to go through and purge everything. You don’t want to negate your hard work.
- Always shop with a list. If it hasn’t been on the list for a few days (more for big ticket items), do not buy it!
- Take time to dispose of your trash properly. Recycle glass and plastic that is clean and dry. Use the time it takes to clean and dry the glass and plastic to consider our serious trash surplus and take some deep breaths. You are part of the solution.
- Shop second-hand. Go to consignment stores. Use “buy/sell” apps to find appliances or furniture or sports gear and electronics.
- Use up what you have before buying more. Then buy and take good care of quality items. Don’t let the man bring you down by selling you poorly made crap you don’t need. You are smarter than that!
- Vote with your dollars. I feel a little sick when I think of the cute, little stores put out of business by Walmart and Amazon. Even if Target is so much easier, as much as possible support local sellers. Shop at the farmer’s market and little local corner stores. Do you want to be stuck with 3-4 huge corporations who sell us everything? Me neither.
Thank your house
Try looking at your house from a point of gratitude instead of grumpiness. Maybe you don’t do a ceremonial welcome everyday, like Marie Kondo. Even so, changing how you think about your possessions will help you gain perspective. Here are some easy thoughts to try:
- I’m thankful I have enough to wear. I love this outfit.
- Thank you for my children who love attention from me more than plastic toys.
- I’m so grateful for a warm place to sleep. I deserve a clean, restful place to sleep.
- We have enough food. I am grateful.
- I’m happy this thing I don’t use anymore can be used by someone else.
Everyone shares responsibility
Let your kids take care of their own stuff as much as they can. They are capable of way more than you are letting them do now. Children used to help run farms for goodness sakes!
Finally, if keeping up with clutter in common areas is not something you love doing, you must ask your family to help you. If your request falls on deaf ears, your struggle is common and the subject of many more books — on parenting, love languages, and relationships. I’m just an organizer and I will let the therapists handle your pain there.
Create a tour of pride
As you walk around your home, notice the things you love about it. Gratitude for what you own will help you keep things tidy and feel proud of how you live.
We all know having company is a great cleaning motivator. The next time a new person comes into your home, don’t apologize for the way it looks. Focus on things you are proud of and thankful for.
I believe a positive vibe makes you a better host than cleanliness.
Thank you for reading. Please tell me your thoughts below.
Also published on Medium.