How to get organized once and for all

The young, sweet-faced Japanese woman who wrote this book looks like she’d be a pushover, but she’s not. She does not accept your foregone conclusion that you’ll just hang onto “important” papers, sentimental items from school days, and even user manuals for electronics and gadgets, forever. She sure as shit doesn’t want to hear your excuses for keeping a drawer full of soy sauce packets and rubber bands. And she’s not into finding clever storage solutions or buying storage products. In fact, she says “storage experts are hoarders.” Oh snap. She believes peace, mental clarity, familial harmony, and even figuring out what you really want to do, all come from “tidying up.” Which it turns out is code for throwing away 3/4 of the crap that you may or may not realize is cluttering up your house. (Even if you think your house is relatively uncluttered, every room inevitably has at least a small amount of stuff piled in little stacks or hidden in closets and cabinets. And it needs to go. It’s bringing you down.) Specifically, Marie instructs you to physically handle each item and if it does not bring you a “thrill of pleasure” when you touch it, you should throw it out. It’s not unusual for her clients to discard 17 bags of stuff at a time (I think she said the record was 200 bags?). She also believes that tidying up should be a special, one-time event; she’s not into tackling it slowly and she’s not into your tailoring her method to suit some halfassed approach. Decluttering should be done in one go, and then you’re done forever. She says none of her clients backslide. Once you start discarding stuff and see how rewarding it is to live in an uncluttered environment, a “click” occurs, in which you discover what amount of stuff feels right (hint: it’s not much), and you never go back to your old ways.

Marie thinks there are only two reasons we can’t let go of stuff: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. Even if you were to hire her (she is famous in Japan and has a three-month waiting list), she doesn’t do the hard work for you. She makes you decide what to throw out, facing your belongings and, really, your life.

Interestingly, sales of her book took off when Japan had its last big earthquake. Evidently because many people had lost their belongings and they looked to her book for reassurance that we don’t need stuff—whether a billion photos from vacations, mementoes of a past love, etc.—to remember the good times and to be happy.

Marie believes that your real life begins after putting your house in order. Most people gain confidence in their decision-making ability, some drop excess weight, and many realize what they want to pursue next in life.

Following are “After” pics of ‘junk drawers’ and closets I’ve KonMari-ed (that’s what she calls her method). When Jimmy discovered he was missing some unnecessary, clutter-y item that I’d discarded, he said, “I don’t have my (such-and-such), because you read a book??”






10 Replies to “How to get organized once and for all”

  1. I actually bought her book, but have not figured out how to get time alone so I can “tidy up”. I have been dreaming of dumpsters and cannot wait. I am ready to be a convert, and am so glad to know you are already there. My garbage bags are waiting.

    1. You are going to love it, Rosanne. I have been on a natural high, haha. I have called the Vets of America twice for pickups, and each time I’ve had a small mountain of bags carted away. I hope someone finds use for all of the stuff OR immediately discards it, so it doesn’t bring them down either! Maybe drink some strong coffee when the kids are hitting the hay, and then bam–just go for it! Marie says tackle the easiest stuff first–the stuff that you are not as attached to, that does not have sentimental value. In the end, it’s almost easier to just identify the items in your house you really care about and then just close your eyes and either give away or throw out the rest, without stopping to have the debate of “should I keep this or not?” The answer is always no, so save yourself the pain of going back and forth on it…

    1. I feel your pain, Deborah! I think Jimmy is enjoying the benefits of having a closet that is not depressing to look at. But we don’t share the same zeal for throwing old stuff out right away, like NOW.

  2. I notice you didn’t show any pictures of decluttering your pets’ toys. Couldn’t part with any of those? Also, you splurge on organic wax paper but get the run of the mill aluminum foil?

    1. What’s weird about a lot of Italian Greyhounds is they don’t enjoy toys. I actually did give away a bag of pet gear though–old collars, harnesses, leashes. We get whatever foil and waxed paper products are sold at Whole Foods–don’t pay much attention to which ones we are choosing from the small selection. Anything else to cover??

  3. Omg, seriously my husband asked me this morning how I get to my side of our bed because I have so much clutter there!! I’m using this as a sign (reference to your following post intended) to clear out the clutter! Thank you!!!!!!

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