Beyond Tidying Up

Chances are you’ve heard all the buzz around the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Since I am obsessed with all things organizing, I couldn’t wait to dive into the show. I got even more excited when I found out that a friend and former co-worker was featured on one of the episodes. She even gave me the inside scoop on what it was like to work with Marie Kondo! 

There isn’t a day that goes by where someone doesn’t ask me my thoughts on the show so I decided to write a post discussing the similarities and differences in Reclaim’s approach and the KonMari Method.

The KonMari Method has six basic rules.

Commit yourself to tidying up

We discuss commitment during our initial in-home assessment. We talk about the decluttering and organizing process and ensure that the client is on board to make the necessary changes in order to achieve their goal of a less cluttered, more organized home. To ensure success we need to make sure that the client is ready to declutter (or, in other words, “tidy up”).

Imagine your ideal lifestyle

During the in-home assessment we also get an idea of what the client’s vision is for their home. This gives us a clear picture of how they see their ideal lifestyle and helps us create the best organizing solutions for them and their needs. These personalized solutions, once put in place, will make it much easier for the client to maintain an organized home.

Finish Discarding First

We first sort and then declutter. The sorting process allows the client to see how much they have of a particular item, making it easier to make decisions as to what goes and what stays. The organizing process won’t be nearly as effective if the client doesn’t declutter (or “discard”) first.

Tidy by Category, Not by Location

This goes back to Rule #3. When we sort we gather all items that belong in the same category. Let’s use clothing as an example–we also gather all of our client’s clothing together. But unlike Marie Kondo, who has the client create a large pile, we use garment racks and sort all clothing by style and color, allowing the client to see how much they of a particular item or color, making it easier to see what they have and therefore decide what stays and what goes.

Follow the Right Order (Clothes, Books, Paper, Miscellaneous Items, Sentimental)

We allow our client to dictate what we do first. During the in-home assessment we create a list of priorities and from there develop an action plan. We believe there is no right or wrong place to start, but we encourage clients to start in a room where they feel it won’t be very difficult to make decisions during the decluttering process.

Does it Spark Joy?

We don’t ask this exact question, but if a client is struggling with what to keep and what to get rid of we’ll ask them questions such as “When is the last time you used this/wore this?” “What would be the worst thing that would happen if you got rid of this?” or “How does this benefit you?” If there is no clear answer, then most likely it’s time for these items to go.

On the show, Marie consults with the families, but she doesn’t actually do the hands-on work. At Reclaim we provide full-service decluttering and organizing and we’ve found that our clients greatly appreciate this approach. The thought of decluttering and organizing a home can be a daunting task, but with our team we can get it all done in a matter of days. We do all of the sorting, provide support during the decluttering process, provide donation resources, and organize everything, putting personalized organizing systems in place that are easy to maintain for our clients. We have very high success rates when we see a project through from start to finish.

Q&A with Sehnita Joshua Mattison from “Episode 6: Breaking Free From a Mountain of Stuff”

How did you get to be on the show and what made you decide to apply?

They posted a casting notice to a local moms group I belong to on Facebook. We were determined to clean up our space, so we figured why not? For years I had been putting the idea of clearing out space on my vision board and this was going to help make that vision a reality.

Your husband Aaron already seemed on board with decluttering before Marie arrived. Has he always been the organized one?

Aaron grew up in a very organized household. His mother is extremely organized and tidy. I am definitely responsible for more of the clutter. If an item has a place to go Aaron has always been good about putting it back.

It seemed difficult for you to part with things that you no longer needed nor really wanted, but were still useful. How did you get over his hurdle and let go of those items?

Marie’s method of holding something and asking if it sparked joy really did work. By doing this process it made me get an idea of how much I really liked something. Also, putting like items together was helpful. Marie suggests sorting by category, not by room. By doing this we could see how much similar stuff we had, which made it much easier to get rid of things.

Books and magazines seemed to be particularly challenging for you. How did you overcome your attachment?

Magazines were particularly difficult for me because if I was going to get rid of them I wanted to make sure that they were going to the right place. I limited myself to a few baskets of magazines and made the commitment to part with the remaining ones. I ended up donating all of the extra magazines to a local senior center and they were thrilled.

You both mentioned that if there is an open space in your house it will get filled with stuff. Now that you have decluttered, have you found it’s easier to leave space open?

It’s much easier now to put things back that have a home. This process also helped me recognize that we need more pieces of furniture with storage so things have a place. And now that we have gone through all of our stuff and know exactly what we have, we are no longer buying things we don’t need.

What was the most useful tip Marie shared with you?

Marie’s folding technique is a game changer. It has helped in so many ways. Putting laundry away is so much easier. It’s easier to get dressed because I can see everything in my drawers and it’s even made packing a suitcase easier. In the past I would just stuff clothing in my suitcase until it was full, but now I am much more thoughtful about it. It really has made life so much easier!

Have you seen any changes with your children since getting rid of so much stuff? Especially their toys?

When we watched the show together as a family, the first thing my daughter Natalia said was “Where is my yellow school bus?” She was a little upset about that, but other than that the kids aren’t missing anything of what was given away. My son Ashton was very decisive about what he did and did not want, so that helped. I did feel guilty giving away toys that were gifts, but Marie suggests that the act of giving and receiving the gift is what you value and stays with you, not necessarily the actual gift so that was helpful.

The show was filmed eight months ago. Have you been able to maintain the systems Marie put in place?

The majority of it, yes. 90% of our house is in good shape. A few areas could still use some tidying up and reassessing, which is the next step. We are a work in progress.

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  1. I am thrilled beyond words with what you have done in organizing my house. Now that the attic is completely empty and all of my seasonal decorations are labeled and one the main floor my life is organized and my brain feels a lot better!!! I really think a “cluttered” house is a cluttered brain!!

    We are coming to the end of having my entire home completely organized and I am excited about your next visit because it will be the downstairs closets which will mean I actually know where everything is and the rest of the junk will be gone.

    Thank you Allison for making such a big difference in my life!!! I am so happy and thrilled that I have to say this is a life changing experience and my mental state is the best it’s been in any years!! I am organized and proud of the accomplishments we have made!!! RECLAIM, you ROCK!!!

  2. Yes, I just watched that episode and I felt the struggle the family had with letting go of things. It amazing how we can justify anything. I was also very proud when everyone was onboard with achieving the same goal of making their home neat and organized. Great show!

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