A Netflix binge isn't meant to be productive. Entertaining, sure. Relaxing, most definitely. But 10 episodes deep into The Office, I'm not exactly learning many life lessons (besides maybe: whatever Michael Scott does, do the opposite). But, over the weekend I found myself tuning back into Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, the streaming giant's hit series. The show follows organizational expert and author Marie Kondo as she visits the homes of American families, teaching them her tricks for tidying up and emotionally lifting them in the process. Though other shows like Queer Eye, Fixer Upper, and even The Great British Bake Off have entertained me, they've never made me want to get up off the couch and tackle recessed lighting or petit fours. But I wanted to try Marie Kondo's tips before Netflix auto-played the second episode.
Marie approaches cleaning and de-cluttering in a kind way. At the start of each episode she takes a quiet moment to take in a home's energy. She has her clients thank each piece they get rid of for its contribution in their lives. It's not exactly inherent to tackle de-cluttering with such a level of emotion — for me, it's usually about the logistics of simply not having enough space. But, Marie's thoughtfulness helped me to reexamine pieces I was holding on to solely for emotional reasons. Was I keeping a past NYE dress because I still actually want to wear it? Or because I remember how much fun I had that night? The answer was as you'd guess: the latter.
In true KonMari fashion (that's the name of Kondo's methodology), I began my own journey by dumping out my assorted dresser drawers and piling everything into a giant heap of cotton and polyester on my bed. As a resident of a teeny-tiny NYC apartment, I'm used to feeling like my stuff is always closing in on me. Having one of those minimalist nothing-on-the-dresser bedrooms simply isn't an option. One day's worth of clothes left on my floor makes passage impossible (and yet!). So, watching the contents of my over-stuffed drawers pile up in one place was both jarring and in a sense, a relief. Though the pile was overwhelming, having everything in one place at one time meant that I couldn't hide anything away or only tackle drawers selectively, ignoring the ones that are the biggest headache.
Slowly I picked my way through my t-shirts, pajamas, sweaters, and yes, even bras and underwear, taking time to evaluate whether they were each worth keeping around. Then, for those that made the cut, I employed Kondo's ultra-efficient method of folding. Above, you can see the results of my labor. By no means perfectly neat, but definitely more organized and efficient than my previous system (or lack thereof). The method managed to be so effective, that I now have an entirely empty drawer, left to fill at my leisure.
Next I tackled what I can gratefully say is my now pared-down collection of pants. Since I store them in the open on a bookshelf, having these look at least somewhat presentable was a must. Again, please don't judge the fact that I have yet to truly master the art of folding, but to employ a set method that allowed me to see everything made a huge difference.
Another key part of Kondo's methodology was utilizing boxes and other storage units you already have on hand to help compartmentalize. As an editor with a wholly unnecessary number of beauty products, paring down, sorting, and storing were all key to overcoming an overwhelming mess. Sorting items by category — eye makeup, skin products, body products etc. — meant that everything had a place and could actually be found when I came calling.
Now, while I only managed to tackle a few small projects in my one afternoon of cleaning (closets are next, trust me), the difference is already palpable. I feel a sense of ease not having to stare at the box of old jeans I kept under my dresser, or the pile of random papers I left stacked on my dresser. But, now likely comes the hardest part, turning the organizational changes into a habit rather than a one-time thing. Perhaps I'll report back with my successes down the line, but in the meantime, read on for a few handy items to help you start on the journey yourself.
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