A Top Organizer Shares Her Thoughts on How You Should Tidy
With her promise to “spark joy” through the simple art of tidying, Marie Kondo has captured the hearts and imaginations of messy people around the world, prompting everyone to throw out boring items like their socks in order to fill their lives with only joyful items.
But does her method really work?
We spoke to Lisa Jacobs, founder of the New York-based organizational company Imagine It Done (and former featured speaker in our Related "Speaker Series") to get her take on the Japanese sensation.
“The truth of the matter is, organization itself does not spark joy," she says, "The result of organization sparks joy."
In other words, don't expect to have fun while organizing; it takes real and exhausting work. But if you do it right, you will be beyond thrilled with the results.
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Though organizing solo can be a tricky business, Jacobs did graciously share her method with us for any intrepid tidiers who want to go at it alone. But no shame if you need to call in the professionals; all Related residents receive an exclusive discount on Imagine It Done's services (check it out here).
As Jacobs puts it, "you want to get organized, you want to feel clutter free, you want to feel like the weight of the world is off your shoulders, you want to love the way you look everyday, you want to know what you got, well then you have to take my advice!"
- Look at everything you own. Yes, that means not just your clothes, but your papers, toiletries, shoes, handbags, etc. Jacobs and her team do a full edit of every item in their clients' lives, asking them to really think about how it fits into their lifestyle and whether they really need it or not. "It’s like when you have a disease and you have to get it diagnosed. We go deep into the client’s life. We make sure we see everything they live with. We understand them.”
Know what items you need (and which you don’t): One of Jacobs’ quibbles with Marie Kondo is the idea that you should only keep items that spark joy. But what about items like your laundry basket that are just necessary? That said, do be sure to think long and hard about what items you actually use on a daily basis. For instance, are you really going to look at the thousands of photographs you have stored in a box on the top shelf of your closet? Maybe you only need to keep 200 of your favorites.
- Think about what you don't like about your space: Jacobs says that most of her clients feel paralyzed about where to begin when organizing because they aren't sure how they want their space to look. Instead, she encourages people to think about what they *don't* like about their space and then figure out how to change that.
- Be realistic about who you are and where you are in life. You may have loved a particular dress 20 years ago in college, but are you really wearing it anymore? Jacobs says people need to think critically about how they really live, and edit their wardrobe accordingly. "If you work 24/7 and you are a businesswoman, you have to dress a certain way. So why do you need 50 pairs of jeans when you’re only wearing them on the weekend?"
- Just because you haven't worn something in a while, doesn't mean you have to throw it out: On the other hand, rather than go with the old adage that people should throw out clothes they haven't worn in a year, Jacobs says that unorganized people often don't wear clothes they buy because they haven't seen them and forgot they existed. In those cases, she encourages her clients to revisit those items to see if they fit into their lifestyle and if they're worth keeping.
- Ask the right questions when considering clothes: Namely: "Does it fit? Does it flatter? Does it make you feel like a million bucks?"
- Your storage unit is not the answer. Yes, you have one, but is it just an extension of your mess? If so, it too needs to be edited down – not filled with all the items you've rejected from your primary residence.
- The hardest part is the beginning – it will get easier. For those who are disorganized, finally conquering the mess can be a daunting and scary task. But it's worth fighting through the anxiety to get to the point when you feel relief. "You start getting rid of things, and all of a sudden you go ‘what the heck took me so long?' I love that feeling."