FROM SHAME TO PRIDE: What is Virtual Organizing and why it became my favorite working method?

Just as the world got familiar with the industry of “professional organizing” and we don’t have to explain what we do nearly as much as we used to, a new working method has emerged and taken the world by storm – Virtual Organizing.

I became a Certified Virtual Organizing Professional ™ after I followed an intensive training in autumn of 2023. Ever since I am growing more and more fond of this work method as I am noticing the important changes that are happening under the surface with my clients.

So, what is my experience with virtual organizing, and how can you understand the ultimate benefits of taking this work to the video based working realm?

THE INNER REALM CHANGES

The biggest benefit of functional home organization and clutter-free space is unseen by the eye, making our popular “Before & After pictures” of little relevance. The most important change is what happens inside our clients – their emotions, their mental focus, their selftalk…

So let me start explaining the benefits of virtual organizing by sharing the “Before & After” of the inner landscape of my two virtual clients.

Client 1 (Married, mid-age woman with passion for many hobies and responsibility for caring for her elderly mother’s household)

Client 2 (Single mother of a 3 y. o. with autism spectrum and addictive history)

What these two stories have strongly in common is what lies in the core of virtual organizing process. It is the learning, the confidence, the feeling of pride my clients have achieved. It is the recognition that they gained the tools and the understanding of how to create an organized and clutter-free home, and the motivation to keep it so.

Even though it is my goal during my in-person sessions to arrive at the similiar result of learning, it doesn’t always happen. With virtual organizing, such learning is almost inevitable and that is what makes me extremely excited!

I can spot the most obvious difference in the feedback I get. Going from “Look what an amaizng work you/we did Lucie” and “I will have to call you in again” that I hear so often during an in-person projects, to “I am proud of myself and what I achieved” and “I feel motivated to keep going” after a virtual project.



BEING GUIDED WHILE DOING THE WORK YOURSELF

During my training my teacher was well aware of this hidden benefit, so in our studies, we focused on understanding the key principles of virtual organizing success. HOW TO MOVE FROM SHAME TO PRIDE. Here is an extremly simplified version of how such process takes root…

  1. Neuroplasticity
    We now understand that our brains can change anytime, rewiring and forming new habits. If we consistently practice a new habit over the old one, the brain will eventually wire the new way of being as the default one. This applies to everything, including tidying your home. During our sessions, we will be re-training that the “overwhelming,” “boring,” and “paralyzing” tasks can be approached—we move into action.
  2. Accountability
    The consistency of our meetings repeats that action. I will hold you accountable for showing up, doing your in-between work, and calling you on any attempts to slide into your old patterns. Action, when repeated often enough and for long enough, forms new ways of habitual being. As in each process, there are good changes for backsliding, but our regular appointments will bring you back on track.
  3. Internal motivation
    How does one ensure you can keep the action going beyond the external motivation of being held accountable? The body’s best motivator is our brain – the brain that rewards us with motivating hormones each time we taste success. With every discarded bag of clutter, every meter of reclaimed space, every day that’s been efficient, and every look at your own before and after photos, your internal reward system ensures you get supplied with new motivation to keep going.
  4. Self-efficacy and confidence
    After frequent repetitions – taking action, forming new habits, being held accountable, and experiencing internal surges of motivation – you will reach a state where you have made significant changes in how you run your household. Those shifts start changing the way my clients feel about themselves. They regain a sense of control and self-efficacy and move from shame to pride.
  5. Joyful pride
    Once guilt and shame stop punishing you, a wave of energy releases. That’s because under an attack (even if self-directed), we hold the operations of our nervous system on a survival level – fighting or paralyzed- and our ways of operation won’t be efficient. Once (modest and joyful) pride, self-trust, and self-acceptance enter the game, our brain can move into a more efficient way of learning and executing – experienced as less procrastinative behaviors, more energy, and more internal motivation, resulting in more long-term and successful habits.

READYNESS TO CHANGE

As you can see, I am talking a lot about “change,” and that is exactly what virtual organizing is best suited for. So, if you have been looking to change your habits around clutter and organization in your home (or your workplace), consider looking into working with me virtually.

If you want to give this a taste, here is what you need to know about virtual organizing work:
You’re on the right place if…

  • You want to change how you run your household and are ready to start a change process.
  •  You think you can do it independently (although you have not) and don’t need someone beside you.
  •  You want guidance, accountability, and knowledge. You have the capacity to execute the work physically during and between the sessions.
  •  You may not have the finances, time, or energy to spend on an in-person project with a professional organizer.
  •  You have stable internet and understand the basics of technology and video calling.
  •  You can articulate and describe what is going on.

Is Seasonal Clothing Switch for You? The 4 Reasons Why It’s a Game-Changer (and 3 Reasons Why It Wouldn’t Be for You)

I just did my seasonal wardrobe switch yesterday. It took me about 90mins to go through most of my clothing, part with the pieces that didn’t spark joy, and reunite with pieces I hadn’t seen for months.

I had a fresh wave of excitement and inspiration this morning when I got dressed! All those pieces I hadn’t seen were appreciated again, and now I can’t wait to get dressed each morning!

Originally, my seasonal clothing switch was a space-saving strategy. Now, after four years, I found multiple psychological benefits to it!

THE 4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SWITCH YOUR CLOTHING SEASONALLY:

  1. A SPACE-SAVING SOLUTION

    It started as a space-saving solution as I have a relatively small wardrobe: 50cm of hanging rod and five drawers for the rest of the folded clothing + some accessory space. I am not crazy about following fashion trends, but I like to feel good and have fun in what I wear, and I generally love clothing.

    To fit 100% of my clothes in my wardrobe would be impossible! Yes, I could buy a bigger wardrobe, but why would I infringe on my living space to store something I don’t wear?

    Rotating between seasons reduces about 40% of my wardrobe, making it more spacious and airy, with better visibility. There’s no fighting in trying to “stuff” things where they don’t want to fit. The whole clothing process is just much more pleasant.

  2. LESS IS MORE – CLARITY AND EFFICIENCY

    Beyond the physical, there’re great mental benefits.

    Each time we choose what to wear, we are decision-making. To make a decision, we need to go through our options. And the more options we have, the more mental effort it takes. Not only consciously, but also subconsciously: When standing in front of your wardrobe, you’ll automatically block half of the stuff that isn’t season-appropriate. All the blocking of unnecessary stuff still takes mental energy!

    The less you have in your wardrobe, the faster and more efficiently you can make your morning decisions. By pre-choosing (in this case, removing all that’s not appropriate during the switch) you’ve already saved yourself some mental capacity!

    Of course, it’s up to everyone to figure out the right amount of clothing that keeps one and yet not overwhelmed.

  3. THE OLD IS THE NEW

    The novelty and excitement are possibly the best part of this whole thing. When something hangs in your wardrobe all year, I can understand that it “gets old,” and you’re gradually less excited about it. We crave novelty – we notice novelty better – so the feeling that you want to go shopping cause there’re no exciting combinations to wear is real.

    When you limit yourself to fewer options for a certain period of time, it forces you to be more creative with the options you do have. Once you get bored of your current wardrobe style, you can look forward to soon switch. The old/new pieces you bring in during the switch are suddenly much more exciting, appreciated, and worn. Your passion for fashion is rekindled. In my opinion, the simplest economic and ecological fashion crisis solution!

  4. REGULAR DECLUTTERING CHECK

    As a passionate and professional declutterer, I believe this is the simplest way to keep your wardrobe in check for unnecessary clutter. Most of my clients that called in for wardrobe remakes didn’t have the habit of regular decluttering. Thus as a part of our maintenance strategies, we advise decluttering your clothing 1-4x a year (depending on the frequency of clothing influx).

    Making the seasonal switch is the best opportunity for decluttering. Not only because you’re handling all the items individually but also because of the mental clarity this process brings!

    Because of the smaller number of items each season, I have a better overview of what I haven’t worn. At the beginning of winter, when setting up my winter wardrobe, I was convincing myself to use this long-sleeve lounge t-shirt. And yet, it sat precisely in the same spot untouched for the whole season. This time, I had no doubts about the lost purpose of it, and I decluttered it.

  5. DISTANCE AND OBJECTIVITY

    Similarly, with the upcoming season pile I get much more clear on my thoughts and emotions. I notice the internal excitement and inspiration when pulling some pieces and the disappointment that comes over me when unpacking others. Sometimes I couldn’t believe why I held onto an item the last time around!

    Here’s what I observed: Sometimes, we’re simply not ready to part with certain pieces even though we don’t wear them, or they aren’t even that sentimental. It could just be that we’re so used to having them in our wardrobe that we can’t imagine parting with them.

    Not seeing certain pieces of clothing for a period of time allows for much more objectivity in how we feel. It allows us to check in with ourselves at the point of life we’re in. And I found that it makes the decluttering process way easier!

COULD A SEASONAL SWITCH NOT BE FOR YOU? THE 3 CASES IT ISN’T NECESSARY

If something has pros, they’re likely to be cons as well. Do I establish a seasonal switch in 100% of my clients’ houses? NO. So for objectivity, I’d like to add when and why I don’t set up people’s wardrobes to switch seasons.

For any of the below cases, even though you don’t shift your clothing seasonally, I would still recommend decluttering your wardrobe 1-2x a year!

1. YOU HAVE PLENTY OF SPACE

If you have a walk-in closet, a huge wardrobe, and no shortage of space, go ahead and save yourself the work by skipping the switch.

I advise establishing a part of the wardrobe for the cold months’ clothing and part of the wardrobe for warm months’ clothing. Using a part of the wardrobe for a given season, you can still experience the mental benefits: Not having to block tons of unused and irrelevant stuff, appreciating novelty, etc. You can work with sides of the wardrobe or different levels (the out season higher up or less accessible).


2. YOU ARE HIGHLY DISORGANIZED

When we work with anyone who is chronically disorganized, be it because of neurodiversity, chronic fatigue, or difficult life situations, it’s better to keep things as simple as possible! Adding a switch to one’s calendar might be too much to ask – and there’s absolutely no shame in that!

In highly or chronically disorganized households, we aim to simplify. Both in quantity (decluttering) and difficulty (organization). We ensure the space is big enough to hold the content most simply – avoiding any fiddly or perfectionistic strategies for organization.


3. YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT FASHION OR CLOTHING

Maybe fashion isn’t your thing. You like to keep things practical, shop only when necessary, and have a modest and simple way of dealing with your clothing. You don’t get the sense of needing novelty or any real excitement from the pieces you own.

That’s fine! In such a case, you probably don’t need to think of regular decluttering. Establishing a simple system that doesn’t take more than it gives is the way to go.

Don’t forget organization is relative to each individual, and we all have different needs! I switch and declutter my clothing 3x a year as I get super excited about wearing the new season. On the other hand, my partner has a year-long minimal wardrobe and only gets rid of things when they break. 😉



This part of the article covered the big WHY of doing a seasonal clothing switch. If you think this is something for you, in the upcoming article (next week), I will cover the WHEN and the HOW of the process so you can do it yourself!

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

How to get past the overwhelm in Marie Kondo’s KOMONO category & finally organize your whole house!

Many of us discovered “The life-changing magic of tidying up” from Marie Kondo and felt this is the final answer to our home organization. 

Perhaps you devoured the book, watched the Netflix series, and started with the practice: Decluttering your possessions by recognizing what sparks the inner feeling of “joy” vs. what no longer makes you happy.

When Marie Kondo guides us through the decluttering and organization of her first three categories (1. clothing; 2. books; 3. papers), we get hugely excited about the neat wardrobes, bookcases, and office tables. Triumphant and invincible, we imagine our whole house perfectly tidy… Until we discover the 4th category: KOMONO – simply translated as MISCELLANEOUS!

Past Komono, there is only one category left which is sentimental items.  And so we are left to declutter over 50% of our possessions in that one category that doesn’t seem to cover everything.

This is the point where many people get discouraged: “I lost momentum. There are the kids’ toys, boxes of wires, an overflowing pantry… Where shall I start?”

I have been figuring out this answer for years after being contacted by the many Konmari fans who run into the “Komono wall.” 

Ultimately, everyone has a different lifestyle coming with different stuff, but after dozens and dozens of houses, I FINALLY identified, categorized, decluttered, and ORGANIZED KOMONO. 

Instead of 1 enormous category, these are the eight manageable categories I tend to go for. Go through them one-by-one in your own time, just like you would with the other Konmari categories.

1) Kitchen – Food, food-prep, food-serving, food storage, and kitchen paraphernalia. 

2) Bathroom – Hair products, body products, face products, make-up, accessories, kids care, textile, self-care & health

3) Kids – Toys, board & e-games, (activity) books, arts & crafts, school-related items, “treasures,” and baby stuff

4) Electronics – CDs/DVDs (or other older formats), appliances & gadgets, manuals, wires & cables,

5) Household maintenance – Batteries & lightbulbs, tools, building materials (like spare tiles, paint, but also screws, etc.), house cleaning, gardening, car, and other open house projects

6) Aesthetics – Art & photography, seasonal decor (such as Chżristmas, Easter props, etc.), candles & decor, valuables & collectibles, display souvenirs & sentimental

7) Free-time activities – Adult games (e-gaming, social, outdoor…), sports (winter, summer, all-year, indoors), crafting, gifts & wrapping, outdoors (camping, picnic, etc.), special hobbies, interests & personal projects, pets

8) Work-related items – Home office, professional props, equipment, etc.

If there’re any categories you’re missing, feel free to let us know in the comments and co-create the list together!

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

Article by Lucie Krobova
Founder of Your SPACE by Lucie
Professional Organizer
Amsterdam, NL

WHEN and HOW to include your kids in decluttering their toys!

Previous to my organizing career, I worked as an au-pair for one family for four years. Living in big houses with big playrooms, we had an abundance of toys to play with, an ever-growing collection that was harder and harder to tame. It took me an hour to tidy up after playtime!

I knew it was important to educate the kids on how to tidy up after themselves and let go of old toys they no longer played with. But there would be no decluttering – every piece of plastic seemed important to them.

We moved houses almost every year, which seemed like the best opportunity to eliminate some overflow. With each new playroom, I tried different strategies of working with (or without) the kids to keep their room tidy.

After our 4th move to our 4th house, with a playroom size one-fifth of the first one, it looked like I figured it out. With 1/5 of the original furniture and space, we still managed to fit!

We had all our favorite toys and just the same amount of fun and play as we always had. And tidying up never took longer than 10 minutes…

What did I learn from setting up five different playrooms that grew increasingly smaller while still working with the same kids?

I. First of all – Consider their age.

Naturally, smaller kids are most interested in what they see at the moment. Whether it’s an expensive toy or a stick on the floor, it will be THE most interesting object just because it’s there. They have less concept of the things that aren’t in the here & now. So if you pick a toy and wave it in front of their face saying, “Let’s give this away because you haven’t played with it for a while,” you’ll probably fail.

So in the age of less reason, I found it easiest to declutter alone. I put away what I knew was unplayed with and took it away from the playroom for a couple of months to see if someone asked for it. Once they did not notice its absence for a long time, it was safe to pass it on. If they asked, I put it back in their space.

As parents, You know the best when you want to include your kids in your decluttering projects. I noticed that past the age of 6, I could start reasoning with the kids and had better success including them with their playroom re-organization.

II. Once you include them, understand them.

Their world is like ours, only condensed to a much smaller area. The adult world is huge – the personal history, the places we’ve been, the social contacts, the mental realm of ideas, a whole house of stuff – all to hold onto.

Our kid’s worlds are still growing, just getting past their room, home, school… It is natural that they, too, hold onto and put meaning to the things occupying their world. The rock from the neighborhood might have the same sentimental meaning to them as your souvenir from Australia to you.

Though reasonable, be compassionate when handling their “trash” not to develop an aversion to decluttering.

Make sure there’s a bin in their room that’s open and easily accessible so they can throw away stuff regularly when they are done treasuring it.

Observe what they play with and make donation suggestions for the less-used items.

III. Explain decluttering as a positive thing

1) Change the language and make it a winning game instead of a losing game

–> Forcing them to choose the losers and using the “getting rid of” or “throw-away” can be met with resistance. Turn it around. Empty the basket with toys and let them “choose their favorites” and “who’s gonna live in the robot basket” instead. It encourages more positive emotions.

2) Let them know where their toys go

–> Explain the process of decluttering: What isn’t identified as a “keeper” goes to [….] – ideally your smaller friend, smaller cousin, kids that shop in the charity store.

Tip: Kids love the feeling of growing bigger, so identifying toys for smaller children can be an easy trick. However, avoid manipulating them to get rid of things by making them feel like babies if they wish to hold onto their early toys!

3) Let them have their fair exchange

–> Living in the Netherlands, King’s day is in our favor! Encourage your kids to sell their old toys in May and celebrate their first own earnings.

IV. The last but most important lesson: Lead by example and with a relaxed attitude!

Walk your talk, and start with your personal decluttering. Make letting go a visible, regular, and normal part of life. Avoid dramatizing decluttering into either extreme (the “have to get rid of everything now” and the “have to keep everything forever”) if you can.

Your RELAXED ATTITUDE and normalization of decluttering will teach them the most… sooner or later, your kids will pick up on it and copy you.

In my professional experience, the most cluttered rooms were a mere reflection of the rest of the house.

Do you include your kids in the toy-decluttering process? At what age did you start?

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

HOW TO DECLUTTER THE WORST ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE… WITHOUT GETTING OVERWHELMED

When Laura even thought about decluttering the messiest room in her house, she found it hard to breathe. It was her 3rd attempt and this time, she has to put it all in order.

“Why is it so difficult? How did I get to the place where I can barely see the floor in what was supposed to be the guest room? I wish there’d be a magic wand making it just all disappear!”.

She quickly found a few things to get rid of it, packed it in a donation bag, and brought it down to the entryway; Contemplating whether to return upstairs to the guest room.

This time the procrastination voice said, “You’ve done enough, got rid of some stuff; Let’s not go back. Don’t you have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO?”.

35mins in she aborted the project, attending to the urgent tasks… But the inner nagging of her unfinished task had set the tone for the day: yet another defeat. “Is it even possible to NOT GIVE UP? Will this room even be the guest room I wish for?”

Luckily Laura invited me over to help her. And today, Laura keeps the door to this room open. With a victorious smile on her face, she can see the guest beds ready to welcome her family over, and the familiar feeling of shame is exchanged with pride.

How did we end up tackling this task she gave up 3 times over? Those are the 5 important shifts that made it happen.

1) Get realistic
You won’t declutter 10 years of stuff in one day!
To conquer the feeling of defeat, you need to set realistic goals that will make you feel like a “win” day every time you go to do the work. Account for who you are, how fast/slow you tend to work, how long is your attention span, and how sentimental you are over your possessions. Decluttering is not a matter of handling stuff, but a matter of handling your personal history and your emotions. Allow yourself more time and divide this project into realistic chunks. It took Laura 3x4hrs and helping hands to tackle her room.

2) From non-urgent to important
You might have 10 more urgent things to do and a hotel to put up your guests so it’s crucial to get clear on the importance of this task.
What will you GAIN out of having this task finally done?
If you experience the ever-nagging feeling at the back of your mind that behind that closed door is a big to-do, the frequent thoughts of “I am so disorganized”, or even feelings of shame you might consider this important. All the time you spend thinking about it, dealing with it, or loathing in negative thoughts you lose time, and focus, and set your emotional baseline for the day chronically low.
When the important tasks get done, you will have more energy, mental space, and time to do the urgent tasks with more ease.

3) Be held accountable
It’s super important that you are held accountable and motivated! Having real people helping (like professionals) you or at least making you company (like friends or family) oftentimes helps.
If your level of discomfort is too high, you might want to come up with a DYI strategy for your own accountability: PLAN your sessions as if you’d have an actual appointment with a person, put aside the time, and schedule it in your agenda.
Remind yourself of the IMPORTANCE and the WHY you want to show up ready. Set up a checklist for your appointments and mark them done to celebrate each step. Take before and after pictures of your progress to motivate you further.

4) Help your brain to make decisions easier
Those rooms are usually a catch-all situation with stuff from different times and chapters of life; Most likely unused and unseen for a while.
It takes a lot of executive power to skip from object to object, recognize it, and make a decision over keeping vs. letting go, especially if you haven’t seen that stuff for so long that it oftentimes triggers sentiment.

Such cognitive and emotional rollercoaster oftentimes results in overwhelm. To beat this, help your brain a bit!

Start your first session by CATEGORISING ONLY and spend your executive power on grouping like-items together (the sentimental, the practical, the seasonal, the ones that don’t belong to you, etc.). Not only it will be less mental gymnastics in your next session because the stuff is already categorized, but you might be less sentimental about seeing those long-lost treasures for a second time over.

5) Done better than perfect
When you face paralysis, it often times stems from perfectionism. We want to do it all and do it well. We want to think through how it’s all gonna look like in the end, and end up getting stuck in the planning and the fantasies.
Remember, that if you don’t start it will never reach perfection. “Just start” with decluttering and space-making and leave the organizing decisions and final touches for when you’re done with the hard part.
It will come more naturally when the room is free of unnecessary clutter.

How many times have You tried decluttering your worst room, and which one of the points have you missed to implement? Feel free to comment 👇

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

The Confrontation of Decluttering

In my last post, I talked about a strategy for decluttering. As mentioned, sometimes it’s pretty easy to declutter some old stuff. Sometimes we hold onto it for a sentimental reason. And sometimes it’s just impossibly difficult to let go – with no rational explanation.

Well… let me try giving you one. You feel regret that you’re not yet willing to face.

So you’re sitting there in the middle of your decluttering session trying to let go of this bag, book, or blender that you never use. You don’t really like that thing and it’s definitely not sentimental. But when I ask you to let go, you try to persuade me that you need to keep it. With a clear pity in your voice, you’re giving me reasoning like:

“It was just so expensive”
“But it is so pretty”
“I have worn it only once”
“I haven’t used it ever since I bought it”

I feel you. What you’re probably trying to say is, that you kind of regret this purchase although it’s hard to roll that off of your tongue. I don’t judge you. But let me shine some objectivity to the situation that we all experience.

The “not wearing it enough” prevents us from letting it go in hope that one day we’ll start liking it. All we wish for is a justification for that purchase. We’ll keep it in promise, that we’ll force ourselves to wear it, even though it just doesn’t feel right. So we set ourselves to fail our promise or spend an uncomfortable day wearing something out of obligation. All the complications just to feel better about the ownership of that thing.

The same goes for the “pretty”. We’re feeling a bit bad that this pretty thing is sitting unused in our home for so long. We will hold onto it so the one-day-in-the-future, that thing can be appreciated and used. What we’re forgetting is, that by letting it go and passing it on, it could have its moments of shine much earlier than we’re willing to grant to it.

The “expensive” is often the reason number one for keeping things. We have paid so much money for this, and now it’s to be given away for free? Well, that’s unfair, isn’t it? However, if we could get all the money back, we’d happily get rid of it. But it’s hard to sell things for the same value, not even talking about finding the time to sell stuff at all. Yes, it was a bad buy for its price and its uselessness. But we will rather let this thing clutter our house forever than giving it away for cheap. The true reason for keeping it is the “unfairness” of the whole situation…which is, of course, not improving our financial situation, but somehow the stubborn decision makes us feel better.

Whatever the reasoning, in short, we wish we had found the return receipt before it was too late.

Are you recognizing yourself in those sentences?
Does this feeling strike a chord with you?
Then you should continue reading…

it’s only one moment of confrontation


First of all, holding onto something for the fact that you don’t want to feel guilt is a recipe for clutter. The ignorance of the problem also allows for the mistake to be repeated. And that doesn’t contribute to your emotional wellbeing either so you might as well choose the first confronting option.

When facing our mistakes and confronting the guilt feeling, we become more aware of our doings. And of course, it’s only with awareness that we can change things.

Going through the confronting moment, you’re not only decluttering the object itself but also the accompanying feeling of regret. Once you get over this “painful” moment, you can finally let go fully and (for the most part) forever.

Lastly, the whole denial thing doesn’t really work. Yes, by ignoring your bad purchase, you avoid direct self-confrontation. But the object is still there, silently cluttering not only your house but also your mind. You get a mild reminder of regret every time you come across it anyways. Or, you hide it deep down in your storage complaining, that you don’t have enough space in your home. In either case, the ignorance solution is not a sustainable one.

Confront yourself, let go of both the purchase and the regret, and remember this moment the next time you’re one-click away from another impulsive purchase! The whole point of this exercise is not to waste materials in the buy-throw away-repeat fashion, but to bring more mindfulness to your shopping habits and learn how to be more critical and more resourceful. I wish you good luck.

Article by Lucie Krobova
Founder of Your SPACE by Lucie
Professional Organizer
Amsterdam, NL

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

WOULD YOU BUY THIS AGAIN?

Let’s talk decluttering strategies today. How do you declutter? What’s your method? Do you follow “Does it spark joy” from Marie Kondo, or think about the practical “Do I need it? Do I use it?” of the minimalism advocates? There seems to be no one method that works for everyone. And even the methods that do seem to work for you won’t work in all areas of your life/house.

That is why when people ask me what method I follow my usual reply is “none and all“. I find it important not to stay in the dogma of one approach, but to keep a flexible and intuitive approach based on listening.

However, there has been one question that seems to work for a good portion of my clients! And even though it won’t work with the sentimental category, it tends to answer both the practical and the aesthetical questions you might ponder.

“Am I buying it again?

To ask this question means to reverse the process of losing into the process of gaining. If you hate getting rid of stuff and love shopping, this might work especially for you.

Just as all the books recommend, we pull out everything from the area we’re decluttering. Why is that? Because it lets you have a fresh look at things! When you have your book on the shelf for ages, you won’t even see it. That’s how automatically it’s built into your environment. That’s why pulling it all out is a very important step (and a practical one as it allows you to dust off the unattended years).

Once all is out of its home, the fun part can start. I get you to imagine you’re in a shop. A clothes shop, a book shop, a cooking utensils shop…where everything has no label and you can buy as much as you want.

Go through the shop pile piece by piece and see for yourself which items you wish to re-buy because they’re handy, pretty, awesome, or something you always use. You don’t have to feel cruel for getting rid of the rest. Just the way you wouldn’t feel sad for the pieces you left behind in a usual shop. If you dispose of your decluttered stuff responsibly, it will get another life and perhaps become the very favorite piece of its new owner.

The magic of this approach lies in the fact that you’re doing a positive activity (=gaining) in the now. Basing your decisions on who you are now, what you like now, and where would you like to go in life from now. It lets you reset all previous hopes, ideas, plans, and identities and create a fresh base for your future steps.

This question eliminates the pieces which were part of your environment just because:

– Someone gave them to you (and you politely accepted it)
– You won them or got them for free (as a special present with your purchase, extra offer, loyalty reward, etc..)
– You used to pursue a certain identity, hobby, look, or career (and needed the accompanying stuff for that)
– You used to love it at the time of purchase (when it was fashionable)
– You were in a bad mood and needed a shopping fix (even though it was a bad purchase)
– You got tricked by an advertisement (yet the product is just not for you)
– You used to use it (in a different house, different country, different situation, …)

The sentimental category

As I said, this process doesn’t work for sentimental items because we hold onto them not because we like them for what they are, but because we keep them for what they represent. When you come across a sentimental object, just set it aside and come back to it after you go through your “shopping”.

For storing sentimentals, it’s important to realize their purpose. Are they just sentimental, or do they still serve a practical function? If they can be both sentimental and functional, that’s wonderful! However, that doesn’t happen all the time so make sure if they are purely sentimental, they’re not in a way of your practical life, but get displayed or stored in their appropriate manner – with care.

Watch my video to have a better idea on separating sentimentals from the rest of your stuff.
The “can’t get rid of it” category

It might happen, that with some objects that you don’t want to re-buy, you’ll still feel like you want to keep them. You don’t like it, you don’t use it, it’s not sentimental. But there’s still something pulling you back from letting go.

Here we come to the realization, that decluttering is an emotional and mentally confronting process as well. For now, I am just going to tell you, that the most probable reason you keep this piece is GUILT. Try investigating a bit deeper into your reasoning and see if you can find that familiar feeling within.

I wish to keep this article short and on point. Hence I will end it right here, and invite you to read on guilt and self-confrontation in my next blog post coming out in two weeks’ time.

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

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Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

CATEGORIZATION GOES FIRST

It is January, and most of Europe is yet on another strict lockdown. As household owners, we seem to be divided, depending on our life and family situation, into two basic groups (and much more, but for this article, let’s keep it simple).

The ones who have no time to spare as their kids are home and need to be given both education and attention. While household still needs to be run and work needs to get done.

The other group finds themselves with some extra time, on the other hand. Spending more or most time at home and without kids, I have seen people picking up new hobbies, starting on house projects, or reading more books…and perhaps watching Netflix.

If you belong to the first group, save your ambitions. You are already doing enough now, so safe your house organization for another time. However, if you do have 10mins left in your day and desperately want to lessen the chaos around, watch this simple video. It comes from the time I was helping a family to homeschool myself and could feel the load of the combined environment (household + office + school). If you don’t want to lose this article about decluttering, save my blog to your bookmarks, or subscribe to my newsletter for monthly tips. And come back to it when you have a bit more time.

If you belong to the second group, however, and want to spend your extra time on decluttering and organizing your house, you’re on the right page. This article is about how to start decluttering and not get lost in the process. The secret lies in good preparation: Categorize first!

why should you categorize first?

Just as Marie Kondo suggests, decluttering based on categories is more efficient and I usually go with that strategy as well. In her book ‘The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up’ she invites to declutter in categories as opposed to rooms. It’s because many times you have the same stuff in multiple places in your house and while you declutter and organize one room/section, you might need to reorganize it again, as you find more of the same stuff elsewhere in your house later on.

I would add, that it is also important for time efficiency and energy preservation, as well as for having a clear plan of what you are doing. I am writing more on this below.

Her 5 famous categories are clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous), and sentimental items. Those categories are a good starting point, however, they’re quite brought and I like to further subdivide most of it.

So first thing first, think about what categories you’re dealing with in your process! Good preparation is the most important aspect of following your project through without getting lost. And for that reason, you might hire a professional organizer who will bring that plan of execution to your project and make sure you don’t derail. If you wish to do it on your own, take some time aside to plan your sessions. If you don’t have much free time, schedule which categories you do and when.

how to categorize?

If you want to set on a whole-house decluttering project, clothing and textiles are usually a good way to start, as they are more clearly distinguished. I often follow with books, bathroom, and kitchen. For the rest, it tends to be harder as the categories collide, overlap, and take over different spaces in the house (and I will write another article about that complexity later).

But even if you set to declutter and organize only one room, have a clear category as a starting point. Because starting from a corner will quickly exhaust you as you try to combine two different tasks: Categorizing and decluttering at the same time (don’t even think about organizing at this point!). So for example, the “everything” room (formerly named as a guest room) will probably have some electronics, some papers, lots of memories, outdoor equipment, old clothes, etc. Get clear on the categories you are dealing with and declutter them one by one. Either day by day, or hour by hour – depending on your situation, your time, and your stamina.

4 benefits of categorizing before decluttering

1)Time-saving
Just as mentioned in the video, once you proceed to the actual decluttering after you have categorized, there’s a simple task for you. Declutter. You don’t need to put any energy switching your focus from different unrelated objects (and where do these objects belong in my life). You can simply make the decisions to keep it or to let it go. Decluttering is a draining process and you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself. Approach each pile one by one and just get those decisions done.

2) Single focus
Especially for those who are more likely to get distracted (like ADHD for example) by the interesting objects one finds, it’s helpful to make your tasks smaller and simpler.
Tasks like “Now I am doing just one thing, collecting all the papers in this room to one pile”. When you do get distracted, you still had that one task to come back to and to complete instead of coming to a more complex categorize/declutter/organize project. “Right, I was just collecting all the papers to one pile”. Such tasks can be as short as 10 minutes.

3) End procrastination
Tacking a mountain is an overwhelming task. And that is exactly how it might feel if you approach your project as one big thing. The bigger and more overwhelming projects feel, the less likely they will get done. Especially if there’s no urgency to them (like, you can live like this for another year)! Divide your project into chunks of categories and you will find out it’ s not as bad as you thought.

4) Double check-in
This whole process means, that you’ll most likely touch some objects more times. Once when categorizing, once when decluttering, and once again when organizing. Even though this might seem as a waste of time, touching things multiple times has its benefits. First of all, you’ll remember you actually own this thing! And secondly, it can help you with your decision making when decluttering.

When we come across something we haven’t seen for a long time or we even forgot we own it, it might jump out as a surprise and trigger an emotional reaction. Perhaps a nostalgia or curiosity. At such point, we might not be ready to let that item go. However, once we acknowledge that it’s there, and get used to that fact (as we carry on categorizing), its existence won’t be such a surprise once we come to declutter it. That momentarily emotion we felt the first time we touched that object might be gone and we can rely better on our final decision to keep it or to leave it.

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

WHAT’S STEALING YOUR FOCUS?

Through many years of experimenting with meditation, mindfulness, and conscious living, I couldn’t not notice how busy our mind is. And every external input stirs it over and over again (that’s why when beginning with a meditation practice you have your eyes closed to eliminate distractions- and yet it will jump onto sounds, smells, sensations, etc.)

After studying somatics and the connection our body-mind has to our environment through the nervous system, I started noticing how much are we actually affected by what’s around us. The need for safety is so primal, that it never stops. And so we take in all the sensory cues available to determine how we feel about our environment (which then impacts the body reaction in terms of holding, tension, posture, etc.).

Bringing it back to the practical – creating a well-intentioned and safe environment is crucial for living and achieving what you want! I am gonna give you two examples of how your environment supports your productivity and efficiency through the lens of time and emotion.

Eliminating distractions supports your focus which in turn uses your time more efficiently. It always takes time to refocus! So if you wonder where has your time gone, it’s a good practice to look at where has your focus gone as well. Have you been distracted by frustration? Memory? Or another to-do?

If your intention and action go hand in hand, you achieve flow. On the contrary, if your action is work, yet your intention is to fix your environment, your flow is hindered and you get less done (a very simplified version of a long rant about this fascinating topic).

Now with emotions, it’s even more complex. Feeling good and safe is essential for creativity and productivity. And trust me, everything that’s around you doesn’t come unnoticed.

If you surround yourself with clutter that has no longer a purpose, your “monkey mind” will get reminded of all the underlying stories that go with it. The postponed decisions, the yet to-dos, the rather forgotten impulsive buys, and so on… And it doesn’t even have to be a clutter. Sometimes we might be surrounding ourselves with items we used to like, while later on coming to realize this stuff stirs emotions such as nostalgia or sadness.

By creating a supportive environment, we can regulate the emotional baseline we start our day with. So make sure, that what you have in your environment brings your emotional baseline up rather than down. Surround yourself with inspiration, happy memories, warmth, etc. Try having fewer to-dos, fewer ambitions, and fewer items stirring shame (the common emotion I encounter as a reason for holding onto unneeded stuff).

To expand this topic, I am adding my old video I created to play around with this concept.

So what can you do now? Bring your attention to what’s around you! I know, it’s been there for so long, that you don’t even notice it anymore (which is another brain phenomenon that I am going to discuss later), yet it’s still there and it’s being subconsciously processed.

Stay with your items in full awareness and inquire into how they make you feel. Is it a feeling of urgency to act, of shame, procrastination…? Know that this feeling is subconsciously there for as long as the item stays in your line of vision.

Act! Take the time to deal with the items that distract you or bring you down and watch whether you feel lighter, and gained some extra time to do the things you love. If you feel stuck and can’t seem to take the action needed, talk to a professional organizer.

Your SPACE by Lucie logo

P.S. To create this post, I have drawn from knowledge accumulated over years of inquiring and studying these topics. There’re no particular links or sources to refer to. Although if you’re curious, message me and we can discuss this topic and its sources deeper.

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!

“I WAS TAUGHT TO KEEP STUFF”

A lot of us have been taught by our parents (and especially grandparents) to hold onto stuff because “you never know when you need it”. Their mindset is right…most members of the older generations (depending on the geography) have experienced much more scarcity in their lives than we can imagine.

The way of life was different back then:

1. the dangers of war or political turbulence were more present

2. goods were much more expensive and it took longer to acquire them

3. goods were of better quality and longer lasting

Those and other reasons resulted in people keeping a lot of (possibly) useful stuff. We need to realize, that there wasn’t too much stuff, to begin with. But that’s not the case nowadays.

And yet, though in different circumstances, we were brought up by the same mindset.

Goods are so easily, so cheaply available to us all the time (at least in the 1st world countries and also in a lot of the 2nd world with a bit of higher price) .. the paste of life is changing and with one-click orders from Amazon and “free” second purchases, we don’t even realize how much stuff we have around us.

Decluttering is part of living in a consumeristic society. If you have trouble decluttering because of those old sayings of your grandmother, have a look first whether you live the same life she did.

Do you need more PERSONALIZED TIPS AND SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION?

I offer virtual organizing sessions via 1:1 online consulting!
Check it out if you want tailored strategies, personalized guidance, accountability, and more to aid your home-organizing projects from closets to garages!