If you’ve been on social media or Netflix at all this year then you’ve certainly heard about Marie Kondo. She has inspired people all over the country to simplify and organize their homes. On her Netflix special, Marie declutters an entire home in just a few weeks. But for many of us that task feels daunting. Plus, we don’t have Marie’s help. BUT that doesn’t mean we can’t start taking steps to declutter and organize our homes. Every little bit counts.

Here are a few of our big takeaways from Marie.

Make sure everything has a place.

Make sure all the items in your home have it’s own designated space. This includes the items we often forget to give a home to like items we regularly use. Your purse, the kids’ lunchboxes, keys and other daily items need a designated space too. Otherwise they end up floating around the house while you look for them. Ever spent precious time searching for keys or your purse? These “roaming” items are plopped on the dinner table, only to be moved by the front door, to be moved again to a bedroom because it’s blocking the door. Avoid this mess by giving all of your things a home.

Ask if it sparks joy.

Does it spark joy? ‘What does that even mean’, you may think. This is a popular phrase Marie uses — especially for clothes. We all have countless clothing items hanging in the closet and bursting out of drawers that we never wear. Marie asked all the families she works with,  “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to get rid of it. Thank the item for giving value in the past and put it in the giveaway box. Marie likes to thank items before getting rid of them.

Rethink the way you fold clothes.

Most of us fold clothes and then place them flat in a drawer. Marie has a different technique. Marie recommends that you store them vertically in your drawers instead of stacking items on top of each other. Folding your clothes and arranging them vertically allows you to see every item at one time. No more shifting through a pile of shirts to find the one you want at the bottom. This leads to wasted time and messy drawers. Bonus: you can fit more items in a drawer and avoid pressed in wrinkles.

Store items in smaller containers/bins.

Drawers, drawers, drawers. We store so many loose objects in drawers, it’s no wonder they are always a mess. Marie recommends dividing up drawers with smaller boxes and bins to keep drawers and closets organized. Plus, she encourages you to use boxes you already have (yes, the old Amazon box) instead of buying new ones. As far as Marie is concerned, that’s just more stuff! If you do need to purchase storage boxes and bins, Marie suggests you first tidy up and declutter. Otherwise you may end up storing stuff you should be discarding.  

Don’t feel obligated to keep things.

Oh, the sentimental things that contribute to our clutter — what do we do with them? This can be a tricky one especially when it comes to gifts. Marie points out that the person giving the gift was using it as a way to convey their feelings. It’s really the act of giving NOT the material item itself that is special. If you don’t like the gift, it’s okay to get rid of it. Other items we feel (weirdly) obligated to keep? Free swag from events or samples (t-shirts much?). If you aren’t going to use them, just get rid of them. You have pictures and memories, why do you need a mug or t-shirt you never use?

Cleaning and decluttering may seem like something you can put off until whenever, but the drain of clutter on your life is greater than you think. You’ll only know if you embark on the journey to organize, declutter and only keep those things that still serve you. The increase in the quality of your home life will be dramatic and at the very least, you’ll be more productive and efficient. Take one step at a time.

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