Organizing isn’t only applicable to the items you have, your workspace, or your home. Organizing and decluttering goes way deeper than aesthetics; it also has a positive impact to your mental and emotional health. I certainly benefitted from the tips and ways organizing experts gave, especially during this pandemic. And, I can honestly testify that what Marie Kondo said is true: “Putting your house in order is the magic that creates a vibrant and happy life.”
I already consider myself an organized person—if you consider being an organized mess as one. I had my ducks in a row, but everything still felt chaotic to me. As a result, I felt my life was chaotic as well. Until I started consuming content from organizing experts. Thanks to Netflix I was able to watch shows, like Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and Get Organized With The Home Edit, and from there I started to venture more. And these organizing experts opened my eyes to a more systematic and easier way to organize(they seem obvious, I don’t even know why I haven’t thought of those!).
Now if you’re anything like me, and you’re in need of a little home and life organization, I made it easier for you to do so. Here are seven tips I learned from watching and reading famous organizing experts.
Establish And Evaluate Your Intent
Before tackling anything, it’s important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. Having a clear knowledge of your intent and goals will help guide you in your organization process. Most of the organizing experts in the field give emphasis on this tip. Without a clear intent and plan, your organization process will not come to fruition, and you’ll end up drifting and going back to square one.
By having a clear intent, every decision you make, every purchase, and every decluttering would be intentional and aligns with your end goal. This tip can also apply to your everyday life. According to self-proclaimed essentialist, Greg Mckeown, an “essential intent is one that guides your greater sense of purpose and helps you chart your life’s path.”
So, ask yourself the important questions. Why are you starting your organizing journey? What is your goal for the space you’re organizing, and what plans fit your needs? How will you know you have succeeded? This tip is, by far, the hardest, but doing this completes 80 percent of the task.
If It’s Not A 90 Percent Yes, It’s A 100 Percent No
When it comes to making decisions on what to keep and what to declutter, experts have different methods. The Konmari method asks if it sparks joy; The Home Edit asks if you need it, use it, or love it; and the Swedish Death Cleaning method advises to get rid of all unnecessary items.
The Essentialist method, however, goes one step deeper and narrows down your decision with its 90 Percent Rule. For any and every decision you make, think of the most important criterion, and rate it from 0 to 100. If your answer is anything less than 90, then it’s an automatic 0.
Let’s make this simpler by using an example. Say, you’re decluttering a closet, and you’re in the middle of deciding whether to keep or give away a piece of clothing. Let’s adopt the Konmari strategy and use “It sparks joy” as the most important criterion. Let’s say it does give you joy. But, the question now is, “by how much?” If you rate it at 90 percent or higher, that’s when you know you should keep it. However, if you’re slightly on the fence and you rate it at, let’s say, 89 percent, that means it’s not worth keeping, even though it’s almost at the passing point.
By quantifying, you’re being meticulous and more intentional with your choices. Doing so keeps you from indecision, from getting stuck with something you’re not truly invested in, and from regretting or second-guessing your decisions. Remember, if it’s not a 90 percent yes, then it’s a hundred percent no.
Organizational queens Joanna and Clea of The Home Edit emphasize on allotting zones in your space. Zones are basically the allotted space for each item category—for example, a handbag zone, a jewelry zone, a sneakers zone, or a heels zone for your closet. This is also the same as Marie Kondo’s teaching on giving every item a home. Only, with the Zones method, you’re not only giving items a home, it also goes hand-in-hand with creating systems for yourself.
According to Clea and Joanna, zones are the key to form and function. By categorizing and assigning zones, you can easily keep track and maintain your items. Because you can easily see your items, you would know when to edit your items or reconfigure your zone once you’ve maxed out the allotted space.
credit: Viv Yapp
After categorizing your items and before assigning zones for them, make sure you have set up your systems first. A system is a repeatable process that helps in accomplishing your purpose or intent. You may have heard of or learned about this term from productivity gurus. But did you know that you can make use of this when organizing your home, and not just your life?
When you have a clear system set up, creating and assigning zones will be much easier. By creating a system unique to you and your intent, life would feel more at ease and your productivity will be positively affected.
As an example, The Home Edit shared about creating a system based on the intent to separate work and personal life (especially for those working from home). By setting up an Away system that clears your work materials out of your sight, you’re establishing a distinction and separation. It doesn’t have to be a fancy, elaborate system, and this is where the Zones come into play. You can use a cart you can roll out when working, then roll under a table or in the closet after you’re finished. You can also use a container box to put all your work items in and store it in a drawer after work.
“It’s not just about designating an area, but also making sure that you can physically put it away,” says Clea.
It’s Okay To Let Go
credit: Minette Hand
According to Marie Kondo, there are only three reasons why we can’t tidy or let something go—an attachment to the past, a fear for the future, or a combination of both. Most of us save mementos to keep the memory or its history alive. We often worry that letting go of a physical item would equate to letting go of a treasured memory. “The key to overcome this obstacle is to ask yourself why it is difficult to let go of something, and understand your ownership pattern. Once you understand your patterns, it becomes easier to face your fears and attachments,” advises Marie Kondo.
By letting go of the things we don’t otherwise need, we’re stopping ourselves from living in the past and rather being in the present. “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. You should live for yourself, not for a future stranger or your past self.”
Stop Judging Yourself
Because we live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world, women have to wear a lot of hats nowadays. Oftentimes, it’s at the expense of an organized home. However, society (and social media) can have this negative perception that women have to have it all—a stable job, the perfect partner, a great family, and a beautiful, organized home. And when we don’t have it, we result in self-judgment and comparisons. Canadian organizing service Ease Up says that there has to be “compassion and nonjudgment, with full understanding that being cluttered and disorganized is not a reflection of who a person is or their abilities. Instead, we [should] recognize [the struggle] to fulfill yet another expectation [and] wear yet another hat.”
So, when you’re starting to organize your home and your life, don’t be critical of yourself. Rather, go into it with an understanding and open mind. Remember, the reason why you’re starting in the first place is because you want change, and judging yourself won’t help in that goal.
Maintain, Maintain, Maintain
As with any area in life, it’s important to keep maintaining what you have organized. Organization isn’t a one-and-done thing, because you’ll be accumulating more items over time. Just like how you maintain relationships by keeping in touch with your friends and family, you must also keep in touch with your items, especially mementos. Take the time to continuously revisit the items you think you have an emotional attachment to. “If things are super sentimental, it’s just as important to go through and make sure that each of those items still have the same weight in your mind, because maybe something that was sentimental five years ago doesn’t feel the same way anymore,” says Joanna of The Home Edit.
(Story by Assistant Editor, Carmela Valencia)