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!

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.

CREATE A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR THE TIMES SPENT AT HOME

Here’s a video I made back in March when the first wave of the pandemic hit the Netherlands. And now, again, we’re strongly advised to work from home, eat from home, and socialize (on small scale) at home. Perhaps it’s a good time to repost this video, in case you missed it before…

With more time spent closed at home, it’s more critical than ever to create an environment that’s supportive: Spacious, helpful, and filled with the objects you love, yet still fit for a home-based work routine.

Find my organizing tips below, and watch this video for a visual demonstration:

Pick a room that’s the most painful, or most important to remake and follow these simple tips on how to re-organize your home space in few minutes:

HORIZONTAL SPACES – How many trinkets, sentimental objects, or doesn’t-live-here stuff do you regularly accumulate on shelves, window sills, tables, and counters? Can you cut down to just a few consciously picked objects? Such change will make your cleaning and dusting much faster, plus having less stuff in your line of vision will allow more space and less distraction in your mental space.

OUTDATED STUFF – Do you have any expired vouchers, outdated to-do notes, or old projects lying around? Have a fresh look at what’s in your environment and don’t burden yourself with anything that’s not relevant anymore! It’s also a good opportunity to question some projects you wanted to start or finish…does it take more than it gives? Perhaps it’s time to drop that ambition if you feel overwhelmed and put it away for the time being.

HIDE YOUR TREASURES FOR JOYFUL REMINDER – In order to create less distracting and more focused space, you might want to consider removing some cards, photos, or even paintings from your walls. That doesn’t mean you need to get rid of them or store them in your attic though! As Marie Kondo advises, make use of the inner doors of your cabinets and rejoice every time you open it! This is my favorite trick, and it worked very well for many of my clients. On top of it, not seeing your photo/painting all the time also makes you appreciate it more in the times you do glimpse 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.

DO YOU NEED TO BUY MORE STUFF TO ORGANIZE?

The first question I receive as a professional organizer from my clients is usually “What organizers shall I buy?”

Isn’t that kind of counterproductive when trying to declutter? We’re aiming for less in here, for the more simple solutions so don’t get overwhelmed with all the fancy organizers out there! Don’t be financially concerned when wanting to organize, because it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money to put your house in order!

Instead of falling into yet another marketing trap of companies producing “smart organizing solutions”, start with what you have first!

Declutter first! See how much stuff you actually have. See how much storage you have. Only THEN you can start thinking whether you need something extra to buy.