Successful Systems To Free Yourself From Clutter

This blog is the place for people who love self improvement! If that describes you, you’ve probably tried a variety of systems to build success and accomplish more in a day. There are so many successful systems to improve your health, organize your space, increase your personal productivity, and improve mindfulness.

Why do we try all these systems?

The answer is simple: we want to get the most out of each day. We want to improve ourselves, get more done in less time, and find ways to look & feel great.

I’ve personally tried dozens of systems over the years in my quest to simplify and improve my life. Interestingly, the two that have made the most significant impact on me have been systems that helped get my stuff under control.

Once I implemented these systems, not only were my spaces better organized, but I was more confident in making improvements in other parts of my life as well. My vision for the future became more clear, and I applied these elimination and simplification principles to my money, my work, and other areas.

Organized house

The KonMari Method

The KonMari Method is a system for tidying up your house (and life) by Marie Kondo. Marie is a lifelong organizer, who turned tidying into a career in Japan. She wrote the best selling book, and later had a Netflix series based on the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

The book is about tidying, but Marie makes it clear that her real purpose is to help you find joy. By eliminating all of the clutter, we are more joyful, more disciplined and more aware of our deepest desires.

I read the book on two flights back from Maine in 2015. Something about the book captivated me, and I flew through it, absorbing every single thing she had to say. I was so excited to get home to declutter my life!

Organized clothes

Method

Like all good systems, the KonMari Method is pretty simple but super effective. Here are the basics:

1. Start with fully committing yourself to this process, and visualizing your ideal lifestyle. This process is about tidying up in a way that will spark joy and change your life forever. Make sure you know why you are starting this journey.

2. Clean by category and not by room. You may normally clean up your bed room, but instead you tidy a category of items, such as your clothes. When tidying a category, you get every single item in that category from wherever it is in your house.

Going with the clothing example, you would pull out clothes from any closets, drawers, laundry room, car, and anywhere else clothes may be hiding.

3. Once you have a category of items pulled together, you are ready to start! Discarding is the first part of the process. Pick up each and every item one at a time, and ask yourself does this spark joy? If the answer is yes, put it in a keep pile. If no, thank the item for what it has brought to your life, and put it in a donate or discard pile.

Note: The order of categories is very important. First, start with clothes, and then move to books, papers, other miscellaneous items, and finally sentimental items. Go from the easiest to the hardest category so that you can get good at tidying before handling difficult items.

Initially, most people have difficulty determining if something brings joy or not. But after you find a few items that really do bring joy, you get better at identifying non-joy-giving items and can more easily let go of them.

KonMari Tidying system

Result

Like I said, I was so excited to get home from my vacation to begin decluttering. The very next day I pulled every piece of clothing out of my closet and out of every drawer. This cleaning by category thing was new to me, so I forgot about all the clothes stored in the basement and laundry room, but eventually I added those to the pile as well.

The enormous pile of clothes in my hallway was a bit overwhelming at first, but I did exactly as the book teaches. I picked up every single item and asked myself if it sparked joy. If the answer was yes I kept it. If not, I thanked it and put it in the donate or trash pile.

It took me a few months to get through every single item in every category in my house. However, I kept motivated by seeing the progress and feeling the lightness of getting rid of un-needed and un-used stuff.

In the end, I donated 18 CAR LOADS OF STUFF that did not bring me joy. I can’t adequately explain the incredible amount of peace this brought me. After I finished my home was tidy, there was room in every closet, and I did stop buying things. I became more selective with purchases and made sure anything I brought into my home I LOVED.

Organized closet

After Tidying

After going through all this tidying, I also did a lot of other things I had been putting off. I took clothes to the tailor and I returned items that just didn’t fit or didn’t look good on me. I felt a weight lifted by having less stuff and less to-dos.

This was years ago and my home is still relatively tidy (maybe not according to Marie’s standards, but certainly according to mine). I have 3 kids and we regularly go through our things to ensure each sparks joy for one of us.

This was truly one of the most impactful things I have ever done. My space was cleared. My mind was cleared. And I started focusing more on things that actually matter. Read more on KonMari at konmari.com.

The Home Edit

The Home Edit is a business run by two fierce women, Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer. They are both incredible organizers as well as designers. In fact, their goal with The Home Edit was to reinvent traditional organizing by bringing design and style into the equation.

Their hugely popular Netflix series, Get Organized with The Home Edit, is absolutely binge worthy. I was hooked on this show right away. I hardly watch any TV, but once I saw one episode of this, I was watching every chance I got.

Of course, I also bought their best selling book The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals, which is full of inspiring pictures of spaces they have organized and tips to help you organize.

Method

The Home Edit method considers both the practicality and aesthetics of organizing. Your space should save you time, save you money, save you sanity and calm you.

A key principle for this method is to set up systems that can be maintained and that make sense based on your lifestyle. A family that prioritizes travel, and takes 5-6 trips per year needs different organizational systems than a family with 3 dogs and 4 kids who home school.

Expect to use a lot of clear bins and labels to ensure each item has a specific place. Organizing things by color in the order of the rainbow is a must-do, which is surprisingly pleasing to the eye. I did this with my kids’ books and it is lovely.

The process includes:

  1. Removing everything from the space you are organizing
  2. Grouping like things together
  3. Paring down anything you no longer use or like
  4. Finding a place for every item, using storage containers and labels to ensure things stay organized

You can buy all of the products they use at The Container Store. Search for The Home Edit.

The Home Edit organizing system

Result

I used the KonMari method to declutter and tidy my space years ago, but I still had some spaces that were impossible to keep organized. Those included the pantry, the junk drawer, the kitchen cabinets, and the linen closet.

I decided to organize these spaces The Home Edit way, so I went to the Container Store and bought A LOT of containers, baskets and labels. This was an expensive undertaking, and I was pretty skeptical at first that all these bins would actually help me stay organized.

It took a lot of time, but it was surprisingly easy to do the steps they teach. I was easily able to remove everything from each space, group the items together in a logical way, and then find the right storage and labels.

My favorite and most used items are the Divided Lazy Susan, the All Purpose Bin, and the Pasta Canisters.

Rainbow organization

After Organizing

I did this more than 6 months ago, and the spaces are all still organized. Even the pantry, which is restocked (and cleared out by my 3 children) weekly, stays organized because of the labeling and clearly designated spaces. I can easily find things now, and it definitely feels better to have a beautifully organized space. I am 1,000% happy I invested the time and money into organizing.

In addition to having an awesome organizational method, these ladies are my kind of people – super interesting and unapologetic about their many flaws (and did I mention they are both coffee lovers, which is also my favorite thing). Check out their website and pictures of the beautiful spaces they have organized. You will be amazed.

Successful Systems = Better Life

I love to try systems that have worked for others. The Home Edit and the KonMari Method have brought joy, peace and organization to my life. Hopefully I’ve convinced you to try them out! I highly recommend them both, starting with KonMari to eliminate the excess.

Looking for other systems that work? Check out my post on how I used Dave Ramsey’s baby steps to get my financial life in order.

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