A few years ago, my sister-in-law gave me a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. At the time, the 4 youngest of our 5 children were still going in and out of the house. Our “home sweet home” quickly became a place of function and utility, yet it was missing some joy. Why?
When my Type-A brain is going a million miles a minute in a chaotic world of unrest and on-the-go, my outside world seems to follow suit.
What do I mean by that?
My desk is covered with notes and client files I “don’t have the time” to put away. My laundry piles (yes, that’s plural) pop up in various places. The used dishes are stacked up in the sink. The mail remains unopened on my bathroom counter.
Please tell me I’m not the only one!
The KonMari method is Marie Kondo’s system of simplifying and organizing your home. It begins by holding the item in your hand or line of sight, and asking, “Does this spark joy?” While I haven’t used the KonMari method in totality, it fits nicely with a set of philosophies I use for myself and my clients when “clearing space.”
It’s springtime! Whether you’re clearing space in your physical surroundings, in a room or house, or your metaphysical ones, a relationship or in life, there is no better time to focus on organizing your home and restoring some of its joy.
Here are some tips based on the KonMari Method as well as tactics I use with my own clients.
1. Make the Most of Your Time
According to the KonMari Method, instead of cleaning one room a day, devote a full day (or weekend) to cleaning. “If you only tidy one room at a time over an extended period of time, it will wind up getting messy again in a matter of a few weeks or months.”
For some of my clients (and myself) this theory can be daunting. If it intimidates you, or you simply don’t have a large chunk of time to dedicate to cleaning, start small. Focus on your purse or wallet, kitchen drawer, dining room table, or closet. Build momentum and you just might find yourself in what Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls “being in the flow” – enjoying what you are doing so much that the cleaning doesn’t feel like work!
2. Identify “Energy Leaks” verses “Sparks Joy”
I often find my clients are more focused on what’s not working in their lives than what sparks their joy. If that’s the case for you, start with identifying the “energy leaks.”
“Energy leaks” are those things that drain your joy, time, and/or energy. It could be:
- Not being able to find your purse, wallet, keys, or important homework/work papers
- Stepping over piles of clothes on your bedroom floor to access your closet
- Sorting through a basket of clean laundry to find what to wear in the morning
- Having to search through the piles of papers on your desk to find a file, stapler, or even your phone
- Sifting through your kitchen drawer to find the spatula
- Finding that overdue utility bill at the bottom of your pile of mail on the dining room table
Identifying and managing the “energy leaks” may free up your energy to focus on more positive things such as what bring you joy and happiness.
Marie Kondo’s lessons show that “in focusing on what does not make you happy, you’re only inviting unhappiness into your life. If you look around your home and dwell on those items you can’t stand, you’re just generating more negativity.” At the same time, by focusing your positive energy on the resolution to these leaks, you are creating more happiness in your life.
3. Visualize the Goal
Before you start throwing things out, visualize what your ideal lifestyle would be in your home.
Sit or lay down in a quiet area and close your eyes. Imagine yourself walking through each area of your room or home. Reflect on these questions using all five of your senses.
- What do you see? Do you see colorful couch pillows in place, a bouquet of flowers on your clean dining room table, or mail nicely placed in a drawer?
- What do you hear? Birds chirping cheerfully on your clean patio, the kids drawing joyfully while sitting at a clean dining room table, or your favorite music as you dance in your closet and try on nice outfits for a dinner date?
- How do you feel? Are you excited to open the door and enter your home, relaxed on the couch or in your bed, cozy near the roaring fire of the fire place?
- What are you touching? Can you feel the warm comforter on your bed, or the fuzzy fur of the cat curled up on your lap, the soft blanket as you lounge on your comfy couch in your nicely cleaned living room?
- What do you taste? Are you sipping hot tea at the nicely cleaned counter in your open kitchen, having a sit-down dinner of a nice Spring chicken salad and yummy sourdough bread with melted honey butter at your clean dining room table surrounded by your happy family?
- What do you smell? The sweet scent of baking chocolate chip cookies after finding that old unboxed mixer, the bouquet of spring flowers in a vase on your office desk, or the smell of freshly cleaned laundry folded and hung immediately after coming out of the warm dryer?
The KonMari Method teaches that by thinking in such concrete terms, you can more accurately visualize the home and lifestyle you wish to have. Engaging ALL of your senses creates a more enticing end-result than “I want to live in a clean house.” It clarifies your goals and motivates you to reach them.
If it helps inspire you, write a Future Letter to Yourself. Be specific and include your responses to the five senses questions. It should also have the date you plan to finish the cleaning process. Read the letter each night to remind you of your goal.
To further bring it to life, create a Vision or Reality Board. This would be a visual representation of what you’re trying to achieve. Think of it as a poster board containing words, phrases, and pictures representing your end goal. Hang it where you will see it daily.
Whether it is your kitchen utensil drawer, closet, living room, garage, or entire home, I hope this helps you think about what YOU can do to:
- Minimize the clutter,
- Stop the energy leaks, and
- Bring joy back into your living space!