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

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?

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 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 electronics in the Netherlands?

In the third part of my blog series on recycling and disposal in the Netherlands, we’ll have a look at one of the trickiest topics. ELECTRONICS!

As a professional organizer, I see an incredible amount of cables, batteries, lights, and electronic gadgets. Usually, it lies in one big box: dusty, entangled and forgotten. With the great speed technology is evolving nowadays, we seem to have a hard time catching up with the disposal of our old stuff.

Confused about what cable belongs to which gadget, we are afraid to throw away any of them. “Maybe I could use it/ I might need it” or “I will ask my husband” are the common answers for electronic clutter. Frankly, most of those cables never get used.

“I just don’t have the heart to throw it into a bin”

The getting-rid-of part gets tricky as most people’s instinct is to NOT throw away those cables and gadgets to a normal bin. And I sense that that is actually the number one reason for electrical clutter in our households. Luckily, you do have some nice and eco-friendlier options!

How to dispose of electronics in the Netherlands?

SELLING

Are your devices in working condition, and you think you can get worthwhile money for them? The value of old electronics is often a concern; hence I would encourage you to do some research. Check Marktplaats, FB, eBay, or any other platform where you wish to sell. Consider the condition of your offered piece and compare it with the same/similar products and their sold prices.

Feeling like you might make money on some vintage treasures? There are some impressive sums offered for old and original Apple products. For example, the original unopened 2007 iPhone model can be worth thousands of dollars (check the article)! The same might go for old pre-Millenial Apple computers. Of course, everything needs to be in working condition, so if you think of making money on vintage electronics, take them out of that dusty box and start researching.

APPLE TRADE-IN

As the company aims towards a more sustainable business model, Apple is offering a trade-in program. Owners of Apple products are encouraged to dispose of their old gadgets with the company itself to be refurbished or reused in parts for future products. The incentive is a credit for any new device you wish to buy. Check the trade-in prices on their web to see how much money you can save.

Since I am an Apple user, I only have experience with this type of trade-in. Do you wish to contribute to this article with other brands’ trade-in programs? I am more than happy to update this post!

DONATING

If selling isn’t worth your time, but you feel sad to throw away your old but functioning device, you can always donate it to Kringloopwinkels (=second-hand stores). Here’s a list of (presumably) all the kringloopwinkels in the Netherlands. Search for the one nearby your place, and drop your donations off at the back of the store. It couldn’t be simpler! Make sure that your device is functioning, complete, and clean.

ELECTRONIC RECYCLING

Finally, we’re coming to the point of responsibly disposing of the broken stuff that doesn’t make it to the categories above. So, where are those electronic bins?

1. In most shops such as AH, Jumbo, or Plus, there will be a bin for empty batteries and old lightbulbs. Most times, it will be by the entrance; sometimes, it is located next to a bottle return point.

2. For small electronic devices, go to your local hardware shop. Gamma, Karwei, or Praxis have proper recycling bins by their entrance to drop off cables, cameras, phones, LED lights, other lightbulbs, and batteries.

3. If you have large electronics such as TVs, computers, stereos, etc., you’ll have to make a trip to your local milleauplein. Your town hall website should have an ecology/waste disposal section and direct you to their recycling center/milleauplein.

RECYCLING COMPANIES

Many companies take care of the digital data shredding before disposing of your computers and laptops. Such companies are perfect if you have larger quantities and want to make sure all your data are destroyed before deciding to pass your devices into the re-cycle. Google “computer recycling + your local area,” and you will get plenty of companies competing over your device.

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!

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!

How to recycle and dispose of clothing in The Netherlands?

Perhaps you figured out that decluttering your house before any big spring cleaning is a good idea. It’s awesome if you feel the determination to clear out your life a little bit. But have you thought your plan all the way through, or is there still this pending question:

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

Declutter with responsibility. Ecological awareness is often high on the list for us living in the Netherlands and hence a common reason for hesitation regarding decluttering.

Photo by EVG Culture from Pexels

As a professional, I try my best to give items a second life. And the good news is, there’re just so many other options besides landfils!

I’ve been searching for alternative options nearby Amsterdam and Haarlem and will cover my findings in this and many other following articles.

This is only the first part of my blog series, “How to recycle in the Netherlands.” I will be covering books, electronics, toys, and many other topics in the coming weeks.

(If you’re from the rest of the Netherlands, you can still find beneficial information universal to the NL).

REUSE AND RECYCLE

Reuse and recycle companies are my favorite option for giving your wardrobe a new life. And your stuff doesn’t necessarily need to be in great condition! Strange? Keep reading 😉

There’re clothing containers all over Amsterdam (except the very center around Dam Square and de Wallen) from sympany.nl. I just love how accessible and simple they made things for any busy declutterer. Simply enter your postcode on their website, and you get a map of all their containers. They’re big and green, and once you start paying attention, you’ll see them everywhere!

Make sure to protect your donation from damp and dirt by securing it in a tied bin bag. Sympany unpacks your donation and decides what’s sellable and what isn’t. They’ll sell your clothing in second-hand shops and pour their earnings back to the company to fuel their bigger goal.

The goal is textile sustainability and upcycling. Even if you have damaged clothing, it can still be used and recycled into a raw textile material! It can further serve as heat or sound insulation and carry on its reincarnation in another form. So add your ripped jeans and shirts in without a worry. The only condition is cleanliness.

If you wish to get rid of your jewelry, shoes, bedsheets, or other textiles, Sympany takes everything textile-related such as curtains or even teddy-bears!

For Haarlemmers, there are no Sympany containers as the town hall has its own textile recycling system. To find where’s your nearest container, fill in your postcode on this website. Shoes, curtains, bedsheets, and most other textiles are also allowed in. However, don’t waste your trip going there with pillows and duvets as they don’t take these.

In case you’re outside of the Amsterdam and Haarlem area, don’t worry. There’s another company doing their best in providing residents of the Netherlands with textile containers. Visit Reshare.nl to find a nearby container if you live in Den Haag, Rotterdam, or other Dutch cities. Because I focus on the Amsterdam area, I can’t tell exactly what’s happening with the clothing, but I am sure you can find out! Please, let me know if you do.

KID’S CLOTHING

Kid’s clothing is often slightly harder to get rid of as there’s so much emotion connected to it. Besides, kids grow up so fast that most of their outgrown pieces are still in great shape.
I get to see a lot of stashed kiddie clothes around my client’s houses just because the parents are worried that it’s not going to find “the right home.”

I’d advise you to find a community of parents in your local area (usually on FB groups) and try giving it or selling it in there.

Tip: sell or donate things in bulk rather than as individual items. You’ll rarely earn back your effort by selling just single pieces! Bulk your clothing in small packages of the same size, gender, season, quality, and condition. Now it’s easier to put a nice round price on it. Make sure that when photographing the bundle, it’s still visible what items you’re selling and what’s the condition.

RESELL YOUR CLOTHING

For more expensive clothing that is just too hard to donate, you can try selling it on platforms designed for this purpose. There’re apps like Vinted.nl that will allow you to list your items fast and simple.

If you’re Amsterdammer and live nearby the Pijp, there’s a great shop, ReLoveExchange, that can re-sell any clothing that’s still in great shape. You can choose to get cash or store credit in exchange. They’re currently (March 2021) not accepting donations for the corona regulations and slow sales, but it’s worth keeping their web in your bookmarks for future opportunities.

If you own high-end designer items in pristine condition, you might be interested in selling your items on Lampoo.com. A company for luxurious pre-loved items operating from Italy and buying in from the whole of EU.

SELL REALISTICALLY

I know it can be hard to part with things while not getting anything back (right…except for more space and peace of mind!). Thus I see people trying to sell as many things as possible without a more holistic look. So let me remind you something!

How important is it to really earn few euros versus spending time with your family, enjoying your free time, or doing some extra work? Everyone needs to ask themselves whether it’s actually worth it in their unique life circumstances. I am in no way trying to discourage you from selling things, but you should consider few things:

“How much extra time do you have in your day?
What obligations you have to fulfill daily?
What’s your financial situation (is it going to make a difference?)?
How valuable is the item you’re selling (look at the second-hand price, not the original one!)
How much time does it take to take care of the selling process from A-Z?”

The answer will be unique to each one of us. If you have the time, the energy, and the item you wish to sell is valuable enough to make a difference in your bank account, go for it!

For more discussion on this topic, watch my older video and engage in the comments below.

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.

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.

“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.