I’ll never be the next Marie Kondo. The. I said it.
She’s as organized as it gets – and it’s amazing how she helps transform spaces. Between the incredible before and after images, the transformative way of thinking about clutter, and the intrigue that impacts the bottom line, it’s easy to get lost – even obsessed – about how organization can affect the way our people look. homes, how our office space is used, and how our families function. Maintaining order in our homes and offices certainly has many benefits.
Unfortunately, it’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to some of us (ummm… hi, my name is Stéphanie). In fact, shows like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and Get Organized with The Home Edit grab my attention – not because I’m obsessed with their processes or intend to incorporate their principles into my home, but because I’m fascinated that people like that exist! Everything is color coded, alphabetized, folded and sorted. I mean, they fold their underwear, all of you!
I have come to accept that my house will never look completely tidy. This is the place where we experience life and raise a few wild children who don’t know how to put things back in their place. Our spaces are ‘inhabited’, which means they are more comfortable than clean most of the time. Despite my own flaws, I believe there is real value in creating organizational systems that help busy moms relieve stress, increase productivity, and develop peace of mind.
Since I have a lot to learn in this space myself, I asked local professional organizers for their best-kept secrets for keeping the home – and the office – tidy. Here’s what they had to say:
“Keep a donation basket or bin in your closet,” says Lisa Menees, creator of SOS by Lisa. “When you’re trying on something and you don’t like the way it looks, put it right in the basket rather than hanging it up. This way, you won’t waste valuable space on something you don’t like.
Sarah Valeri, founder of Hello Clutter, believes everyone should start the organizing process with decluttering. She suggests creating categories “keep”, “throw” and “donate” and encourages the purge of paper along the way.
“Gather the papers and categorize them,” says Valeri. “Allow yourself to throw away old receipts and throw out all junk mail. Important documents which should be kept but which have no action in progress should be filed.
Amie Garcia, the owner of Sorted, had similar ideas on paper and said the paper should be filed vertically and not stacked flat.
“Immediately review your mail,” Garcia says. “Try to throw and sort the mail as you open it. Put everything that is important in an area where you will tackle it. For example, open the invoice and pay it on your computer, or resolve it immediately and move on. It takes less than 10 minutes to process mail on the spot.
When it comes to home offices, Garcia also shared these tips:
- Consider using “prime real estate” for the items most used in your home. Create active and long-term storage options for items used less frequently.
- Keep office supplies out of sight in drawer organizers. Drawer dividers help keep things tidy and in their proper space.
- Clean surfaces like counters and desks daily for a fresh start every morning.
- For those who don’t have a permanent desk, consider using a rolling cart to access supplies.
- Color coded files to remove some of the brain work involved in finding items.
- Use wall space. Rise! Calendars, whiteboards, pegboards, filing cabinets, shelves, etc. can create additional storage and filing options.
This is practical advice for someone like me, and I hope they are also helpful for you. While my nameless will remain absolutely confused, and my 2007 photos are sure to still be crammed into a shoebox somewhere, I am on a mission to implement at least a few of these tips in my own home. I also remember Marie Kondo has her skills, I have mine, and we both do our best with what we have.
Stéphanie Llorente is a mother of two and regularly contributes to Go Ask Mom. She owns Preparation of communications and Restored, a denominational enterprise that provides relevant resources and an intentional community to working mothers.