If this year’s resolutions included cleaning up, organizing, and getting your home or work space in order, there’s a very good chance 2019 will really be your year! At ilumin, we’ve made our own resolutions to get organized, to varying degrees of success, but we’re ready to make the change for good, and we’d love to take you with us! But we’re going to need a little help.
America has been conquered by a thoughtful woman who can’t reach your top shelf. When Marie Kondo launched her books and her Netflix series about the joy and art of decluttering, it was easy to see it as a fun way to organize your life. Watching the show, however, we quickly learn that tidying up is more than a matter of esthetic.
As Marie addresses each problem area of a home with her signature joyful smile and peaceful persona, we start to gain insight about each item in the home. We learn why it was brought in, why it was clung to, and what emotional significance the item carries and the spell it holds on its owner. We watch as a grown man cries over a pile of shoes, and we start to understand that there’s more to being an organized person than getting rid of “stuff”. It’s about learning to let go of the emotional baggage each item represents.
While the Netflix series takes a light-hearted approach to a mess, shows like Hoarders takes a harder look at what drives people to bury themselves in objects.
How Much Makes it a Mess?
While it may initially seem like the participants on a show like KonMari and the subjects on shows like Hoarding are worlds apart, the science is the same. Each person we meet on these programs is fighting more than a mess, they’re fighting the crushing weight of each item. The only difference is the number of objects required to finally bring a family down.
Initially we start adding objects to our home because we need them or find them useful. Then the objects with sentimental value start to pile up. Soon, we look to these objects for comfort. The difference between the two shows is the approach to downsizing.
On Hoarders, a tough-love approach is applied to those overcome by their stuff. Marie Kondo uses a very gentle touch. And touch is an important ingredient to getting rid of a lot of what you see!
The KonMari method has its followers lay hands on each item in the home. If it “sparks joy”, it stays. If it doesn’t, you thank it for its service and let it go.
When we come into a messy home, it’s more than an annoyance. It increases anxiety and can adversely affect blood pressure. This can create a hard-to-place feeling of unease in everyone in the home, and can exacerbate underlying health issues. If you think you’re having a lot of arguments about silly, insignificant things, it may be time to take a look around and see if it’s your relationship that’s chaotic, or just your home.
First, it’s important to decide what kind of messy your home is. Is it cluttered? Is your furniture simply too big for the room it’s in? Do you actually have too much stuff, or does it just need to be put in order?
Start with your Creative Space!
There are significant studies showing a correlation between being a “disorganized” person and being a creative person, but does that mean you have to live in a messy home? Is high anxiety a prerequisite to living a creative life? To get started, you’ll first need to identify just how much change you need, and exactly how much you’re willing to commit to!
Feng Shui artists have made a living out of reading the energy of a space and knowing where to put each item, but the KonMari method asks you to take that power into your own hands, literally.
Try sitting or standing in your creative space. This might mean at your desk, your sewing machine, your workshop, garage, or craft table. Start by removing everything that you know right away needs to go. Wrappers, scratch paper, empty tubes of paint. Once the actual garbage is out of the way, be sure to keep a trash receptacle nearby. A gum wrapper here and a few staples there can make your whole space feel out of order, and they add up fast! Now, hold each item that you find in your creative space. Take a breath and give it a moment to direct you to where it needs to go.
Did that sound a little new-age for you? Think of it this way: This is Your creative space. You instinctively know where your hand goes when you reach for the item. Trust that.
Be honest with yourself about each item you find. Do you really need to keep that star-shaped punch, or the fabric scraps that you’ll never be able to match? Once you have to take the time to pick up each item, it becomes easier to acknowledge when there’s just too much.
Tackle the Toiletries
How often do you stand at the mirror, agonizing over getting ready? Simplifying the process could take some of the anxiety out of getting out the door.
Try removing any mostly-empty containers of toiletries. Definitely remove anything that’s expired! Makeup collects bacteria, and that bacteria can bite back in unexpected ways – from rashes, to acne, to eye infections! Yikes!
Once you’ve thrown out any old aftershave, tossed 14 stretched out elastics, and downsized your hair products and makeup bag, getting ready in the morning will be a breeze!
Go to Your Room!
Going through your wardrobe might feel overwhelming, but that might be the first indicator that you have too many clothes! Start by removing anything threadbare, torn, or faded. If you wore it in high school, it can go.
Everyone has their “goal jeans”, but if you’ve got a whole “goal wardrobe”, it could be time to examine if you’re holding on to something that not only doesn’t fit you, but no longer fits your life. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it’s time to really decide if you can let it go.
If, however, you find something in the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in ages, and it makes you feel warm or excited to wear it, move it to the front of your closet so it finds its way back into the rotation! So often, we already have the things we want, it’s just gotten buried in the collection!
Remember the End Game
This task isn’t supposed to be taxing. It’s not supposed to feel like a punishment, but it is a chore! Looking hard at what you’re holding on to forces you to take an emotional inventory, and to decide why you hold on to what you hold on to.
If there are items you simply can’t part with, think about dusting it off and finding a more prominent place in your home for it! A favorite dish that you refuse to use can be sealed and hung on a wall. A dress you’ll never wear can be stitched and stuffed into a beautiful throw pillow. The point of this exercise is to celebrate the items you already have that will make your home feel happy and peaceful! If an item truly bring you joy, it has earned its place in your home! After all, who couldn’t use a little more joy in their life?
We’ve recently gone through and decided what sparks joy in us, and it’s having each one of you as patients. We love hearing your stories, learning about your lives, and helping make them better every single day! Thank you for choosing ilumin!
Learn more about Marie Kondo: