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!

If you wish to create & maintain an organized, clutter-free, &
welcoming home for yourself and your family,
Your SPACE home-organizing process™ is the answer.
Book a free consultation to discover how can our tailored solutions help You!

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

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 👇

If you wish to create & maintain an organized, clutter-free, &
welcoming home for yourself and your family,
Your SPACE home-organizing process™ is the answer.
Book a free consultation to discover how can our tailored solutions help You!

How to recycle and dispose of books in the Netherlands?

In my last blog post, I mentioned doing a whole series of articles on recycling and re-using stuff in the Netherlands. I encourage homeowners to declutter responsibly, hence I am trying my best to answering your question

“How to get rid of all of this stuff without contributing to landfills?

Today we’re going to have a look at books. As a professional organizer, I am hearing some of my clients say, “I just don’t have the heart to throw away books into a bin.” Well, I don’t have the heart either, and the great news is that you don’t have to! So let’s have a look at alternatives…

“MINIBIEBS” FOR DUTCH AND ENGLISH TITLES

Luckily for us, the Dutch are great at encouraging people to re-use books and get second-hand ones. If you live here, you couldn’t have missed all the mini-libraries on the streets. They are called a “minibieb” (from the Dutch word for library = de bibliotheek). It’s not exactly a library per se, rather a place where you bring your books if you no longer want them, with the option of taking something new. The good thing is that in the more international cities, you’ll find titles both in Dutch and English.

So if you do have any books in these languages, just bring them there! Here is a great website that has a locator of many mini-libraries. Type your postcode, your street name, or allow to track your location. The map is full of minibiebs, but if you find one that’s missing on the web, you can add it (preferably with a photo) and contribute to the website.

You can also check with your local school to see if they have a similar going system. I know that the International School Haarlem has a minibieb at the upper primary campus just at the entrance (check if it’s still available due to the covid measurements).

OTHER LANGUAGES BOOKS

If you own and wish to declutter books in the less common languages, minibieb might not be the best home. *Although that depends a lot on the neighborhood. I’ve seen some places with German, Spanish, or Turkish books, so check first, and use your common sense.

What I advise is to turn to your mother tongue community on FB (or elsewhere). I am a part of at least five FB groups from the Czech and Slovakian nationalities, so I bet everyone will find some of their mother tongue groups there. Giving away your books to the same language community will higher the chances of them reading your books.

Of course, if you have friends, schools, or clubs that speak your language, FB isn’t your only option. 😉

SELL YOUR BOOKS

Just as with the clothing, you might want to consider the pros and cons of selling. How much are you going to earn vs. the time and energy you’re going to spend dealing with the sale. Whichever platform you want to choose, check for how much books are sold there. And I am saying sold, not offered! Make sure that when putting a price, you maximize your sale change and minimize the rude comments and insults for a “too expensive” offer.

I’ve seen many people selling books on FB or Marktplaats for friendly prices around 1-5€/book. Usually, it makes sense to offer a selection of books with the possibility of selling all at once to minimize your effort. You may sell a series ( like HP, LOTR, etc…), books of the same author, genre, or age group/ (reading level for kids). It’s going to be much easier to deal with 1 buyer and get rid of 7 books rather than 7 buyers selling 7 books. Time efficiency is everything!

Another alternative to selling your books is The Book Exchange – a second-hand bookshop focused on English literature and social sciences. They’re based in Amsterdam center and happy to buy books from people. So if you have a big and valuable collection of books, and don’t want to waste it on the internet hassle, get in touch with them. You can either bring your books in person or send them a picture first. After reviewing which titles they need, they’ll send you an offer.
I don’t have any personal experience with this shop. However, it sounds and looks wonderful as far as their website tells. I’d welcome to hear your experiences to add to this article if you have any comments to share 🙂

ANTIQUE BOOKS

I am happy I recently run into a FB post of someone asking about selling valuable antique books. The Netherlands is full of antique places and bookshops, so I can imagine the changes are quite high to sell something. I have no personal experience with antique books so far, but after researching the options for Amsterdammers, Antonbooks.com is buying old and rare books in good condition. Then they re-sell it online, shipping these rarities worldwide (with brilliant Google reviews).

If you have any personal experience with selling antique books (or other antiques), please comment below or message me to expand our common well of knowledge together.

MAGAZINES

Paper recycling will be obviously the simplest way to get rid of magazines, and yes, even if it has a slightly glossy cover, it’s said to be fine for recycling. (What you can not recycle in the paper container is photo paper, but magazine covers are good to go).

Don’t you have the heart to throw your magazines away? Could they be used by another pair of eyes? Sure! But first, let’s review what kind of magazine you have…

If you subscribe to the “latest news and gossips” kind of magazine, let’s face it. By the time you’d try passing it on, it’s mostly outdated. Try offering it to a friend or a neighbor, and if you’re not successful there, part with it by the recycling bin.

However, magazines with more “durable” information, interesting content, and beautiful images can have a second life! Many people still appreciate a year-old National Geographic, Vogue, House & Garden, and similar.

Here are few ideas on how to pass it on:
Kringloop – check with your local second-hand store if they have a magazine section because many of them do!
Waiting Rooms – when visiting a dentist, doctor, or waiting for a haircut, keep your eyes open for the collection of magazines lying around…start a conversation with the people at the desk and ask them if they’d be interested to get few of your latest numbers.
Shelters – there are many shelters in the Netherlands for victims of domestic abuse, refugees, or homeless people. If you know any of these, and have some Dutch inspiring magazines, try giving them away in there.
(Art) Schools – magazines with beautiful pictures are the best source of collage making, or fun colourful art. If you have magazines with child-appropriate content, ask your school whether they’re interested to take in some of your pieces as their crafts materials.

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


Are you postponing decluttering because you don’t know where to start or how to go about it? Contact me for online guidance, and I will bring structure and accountability to your project!

For residents of Amsterdam and its
surroundings, you can hire me for in-person decluttering and organizing!

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.