“Does it spark joy?” This time last year (or this time in 2012, for the big readers out there), this phrase may have meant little to you. But now it’s synonymous with organization guru Marie Kondo, star of Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and author of a series of books on decluttering tactics that have been changing the way people feel about organizing their own lives. Unable read a whole book or binge eight episodes in time to get your spring cleaning done?
Here are Marie’s top 10 tips:
- Start with an inventory. First thing’s first: Before you can start organizing, you need to know what you have and how much of it. You may be attached to the same three coffee mugs only to realize you own 12 others you never use, or wear the same eight pairs of socks, completely ignoring the other 20 pairs stuffed in the back of the drawer. Get everything out in the open so you can see what you’re really working with.
- Everything in its place and a place for everything. Things you use on a regular basis should have a specific place in your home, and you should make putting them back there after use part of your daily routine. Hang your jacket, your keys, and your bag in the same place so you don’t have to go hunting for them at 8am on a Monday. The same goes for remotes, chargers, cookware, pens, mail…a designated spot makes organization seamless.
- Go paperless. We live in a digital age, but few among us aren’t guilty of saving bills, statements, warranties, directions, and a smorgasbord of other papers. Enroll in eStatements and the like when possible; when you can’t, take the time to scan the documents you really need and keep them on a secure—and tiny—flash drive.
- Keep a joyous wardrobe. Ah yes, the infamous “spark joy” topic. It’s pretty simple: Examine every piece of clothing you own individually and ask yourself a very simple but important question, “Does this bring me joy?” You’ll be shocked at how many pieces of clothing don’t make the cut—and how much more closet space you’ll have.
- Don’t stack—go vertical. Stop stacking things in your home, from your pantry and fridge to your dresser drawers. Storing things vertically will not only be more visually-appealing, it will save you space and make selecting clothes—and food—much easier.
- Buy containers with purpose. Most of us try to fit what we need into the storage options at our disposal—there’s a better way. Instead, determine what you need to store and then purchase the correct containers for that purpose. Not only will you cut down on unnecessary, space-consuming storage, you’ll create an organization method that works for you.
- Go category to category, not room to room. People typically have a system when we clean, starting in one room and working through others in order. Instead, concentrate on categories. Tackle your stuff in the order Kondo recommends: Clothes, books, papers, household items on counters and in drawers, and lastly, sentimental items (just don’t let yourself get bogged down in nostalgia when you find the box of notes you’ve been hoarding since 8th grade English).
- Turn down the brand noise. The overt presence of too many brands in your house can make it feel crowded and “loud.” Reduce the visual overload to create a more peaceful, comfortable environment. Many containers have labels that can be removed, or you can go a step farther and invest in aesthetically pleasing containers you simply refill.
- Part with presents and swag. Kondo believes that presents aren’t about the actual item, but rather about conveying how the giver feels about you. If these gifts spark joy, they belong in your life. If they don’t and they’re just another thing you make room for out of guilt, it’s time to let go. The same goes for swag, aka freebies. You don’t have to throw out that free t-shirt you love to sleep in, but maybe reconsider the koosh ball that’s been collecting dust since 2005.
- Stop acting like a library. Whether you’ve read every one 10 times (or they’re all on your reading list), if you have an overflowing bookcase(s), you’re probably very protective of it. But ask yourself, do you really need them? Digital readers are a great, environmentally-friendly alternative to physical book hoarding. Need the feel of the page underneath your fingers and the smell of the ink in the air? Your local library can give you all that for free! We’re not suggesting you throw out your existing collection—pay it forward by sharing with friends, family, coworkers, and local charities.
Now that you’ve looked at everything you own and decided whether or not it sparked joy in you, what can you do with the joyous belongings you still just don’t have room for? Contact the experts at Gotham Mini Storage for a secure, climate-controlled place that will keep them—and you—happy for years to come.