KonMari for the Classroom – The Short Version

KMClassroomCrickets. That’s what I heard after my first post on getting rid of paper clutter in the classroom.  I’m not surprised; it was a lot of information and probably, a little overwhelming.  So rather than turn everyone off, I’m going to give you a streamlined version so you can get it done and get on with the new school year. While I do believe it is possible to KonMari your classroom by category, I know that may be impractical right now as many items are stored in boxes and cabinets, and you can’t readily see all that you have. So we are going to depart from Kondo’s category approach and declutter by area.  This is presuming you are unpacking the same room you were in last year and got to keep most things in place. If you are moving into a new room and it is empty, the second part of this post will be the most beneficial; if someone else left their clutter behind, well, keep reading here.

*Note – Teachers spend A LOT of their own money; I know I did.  I am not in any way suggesting that you be wasteful with district-purchased supplies, nor that you get rid of things you purchased with your hard-earned money. Only you know for sure what items will likely be provided by your school so that you do not have to keep an overabundance of items in your limited space.  Keep those thoughts in mind as you go through this, and do what will be best for you.

Storage Closets and Cabinets

Out of sight, out of mind probably means that your cabinets are full of items that you don’t use regularly (or ever). So let’s pare down so you’re left with only those items you need and use.

  • Writing Implements
    • Pens, markers, and high-lighters that are more than a few years old may have dried up. Test the ones you know have been in there the longest and chuck any that do not work. Still have more boxes than you’ll use in year or two? Stop hoarding!  Put them out for the students to use.
    • Pencils never go bad.  If you are hoarding these too, sharpen those suckers and put them out for the students.  I know we want them to be responsible and take care of their own pencils, but is it worth it?  Choose your battles – put out the pencils and move on.
  • Paper
    • I’m sticking by this one – if you’ve got loose sheets that are creased, curled, or wrinkled, recycle them. Same with half-used or mostly-used notepads and sticky-notes (especially if you have brand-new ones in front of you.)
    • How much is too much?  Look at the number of stacks of construction/manila/notebook paper you have.  Do you have more than you could possible use this year? Next year?  Are the kids going to be bringing in any more of this thanks to the supply list?  If you answered “yes” to any of these, it’s time to purge. Reduce what you’ve got by at least half. Recycle what’s torn, creased, or loose, and give what’s left to someone who needs it.
    • Are you storing notebooks and folders?  Do you have a planned use for them?  If not, recycle the used ones.  Again, if you have more than what you would use over the next couple of school years, reduce it by half.
  • Miscellaneous Supplies
    • This is everything else – paper clips, thumb tacks, staples, binder clips – all those odds and ends.  If they are things that you use regularly, keep them.  But again, how many boxes of staples do you need?  If you have more than two, that’s probably too many.  Think of this year and the next – keep what you need to get your through that amount of time, and remove the rest.
  • Teaching Aids
    • I don’t want to repeat this unnecessarily, so click here and scroll down to Teaching Aids & Informational Display Items for my suggestions.
  • Room Decor
    • Many teachers have a theme for their room decoration each year.  Some use the same year after year, some change it.  If you are keeping the same theme, go through your items and trash any that are damaged and beyond repair.  Keep only what will look best.  If you are changing themes, ask yourself if you really need to keep all of the decorations from the previous theme(s).

Box up all of the items you’ve removed from your cabinets and pass them on to the new folks in your building who could probably use them.

Open Shelving

This is a tricky area because it holds everything!  Remember, our goal is to make your vision for your classroom a reality. I’ve seen some teachers hang curtains over their shelves and claim that it was because it looked nice when really it was just to hide the clutter. Hang the curtains if you must and if they fit your vision.  But behind curtains or not, it’s time to declutter those shelves.

  • Books
    • Classroom Library – It took me a long time to put together my classroom library. Many years of getting free items from Scholastic and Troll book clubs, and taking from the pickings of a weeded library. It’s hard to part with books, but sometimes it is for the best.
      • Any book that is torn up or has missing covers or pages should really be sent to recycling.  If it is a well-loved book, jot down the title so you can try to replace it later.
      • Non-fiction books that have out-dated information (think Pluto). These should probably be recycled as well.
    • Textbooks
      • Out-of-adoption or sample textbooks, and consumable workbooks – Are you really using these or are they still there because getting rid of books feels wrong?  If they are out of line with current teaching standards, let them go.
    • Professional Materials
      • Training/Workshop Binders – In 1989, I took a summer writing course.  All of my writing samples and the workshop materials were contained in a 3-inch binder. When I changed rooms, it went with me. When I changed positions, it went with me.  Did I ever open it again after the workshop? No. Did my district continue to use that writing program? No.  When did I finally part with it? When I was cleaning out for retirement – in 2015.  If the workshop information is more than five years old, isn’t part of a plan that your district is still following, and isn’t something you are likely to ever need again, toss it.  If it is something your school or district has paid for, check with someone in charge and see what the policy is for removing it from your classroom.
      • Professional Books – Is the information still relevant?  Is it something you refer to frequently and always want to have on hand?  Is it something that was provided by your school/district that you must keep? If not, buh-bye.
  • Everything Else
    • It would be impossible for me to name every other item that you probably have lurking on those shelves, but I’m guessing manipulatives, baskets and other storage containers, odds and ends that you don’t know where else to place are among them.  Go through each shelf and pull out anything you have not used in recent memory and know you will not use this year.  If it is a personal item, what you do with it is your call (trash, donate, send to long-term storage).  If it is school/district property, you may have to keep it. Check with someone who would know if it can be taken out of your room.

A Place for Everything, Everything in Its Place

I am hoping that when you look inside your newly decluttered cabinets and closets you are seeing lots of empty space.  The same should also be true of your shelves – surely you now have a few empty ones. In my next post I will share tips on how to organize this new-found space to keep your clutter from coming back and to make your classroom a welcoming place for students.

KonMari for the Classroom: Paper – Day One

KMClassroomPaperSo, you’ve created your vision and are ready to tackle your classroom clutter – good for you! I’m convinced that even if you get no further than discarding extraneous paper in your classroom, you will have made a huge dent. That’s because so much of what we have in our rooms falls into this category.  I’m not even going to address what is in your file cabinets in this post – that’s a whole other ball of wax -I’m just focused on the paper you can see. So for now when I say “paper”, this is what I am talking about:

Paper

  • notebook paper
  • notebooks
  • newsprint
  • construction/manila/fadeless paper
  • notepads and sticky-notes
  • blank copy paper
  • chart tablets and chart paper

Decorative and Informational

  • posters
  • anchor charts
  • bulletin board border
  • bulletin board displays

Books

  • old textbooks
  • testing practice aids
  • professional books
  • books in your classroom library
  • binders from various conferences, workshops, and training events

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should get you started.

Plain Paper

Let’s start with plain old paper first.  Gather it up from all of its various locations – storage cabinets, shelves, your desk – wherever you have it stashed, and bring it all to one central spot in your classroom.  This will make it much easier to see how much paper you have amassed, and it will make it easier to sort into a manageable amount.

I’m going to suggest getting rid of all loose paper – if it’s in a package, great; if not, it’s out of here.  Unless you have trays to hold the loose paper, it gets torn, folded, and creased.  Send to the recycle bin. Now – if you have a neat stack of 200 sheets of notebook paper, I am not suggesting you get rid of it – that would be wasteful.  But random sheets, cheap construction paper that tears easily once out of the package, newsprint with torn edges – those are the things that should go. Keep clean notebooks that have never been used. Notepads and sticky-notes that have only a  few sheets left on them – recycle. You want to whittle this down until you are left with neat stacks of various papers, clean notebooks, usable notepads, and charts.

Look at what’s left – what do you have too much of?  Construction paper because it’s on the school supply list every year?  Sticky-notes because you can only order them in packages of 10?  Reduce those piles by at least half, more if you can honestly say you will not use up what’s left in the foreseeable future. Take your discards and set them by your classroom door so you remember that they are on their way out!

Teaching Aids and Informational Display Items

We typically find two different things on our classroom walls and bulletin boards – teaching aids and decorative items.  We’re going to tackle the educational ones first. Locate all of your informational display items (posters, anchor charts, etc.) and, just like with the plain paper, bring them all to one spot in your classroom.  Are there any that are out-of-date? (Solar system posters that include Pluto as a planet, for example.)  If the information on a teaching aid is no longer valid, it needs to go.  Are there any posters or charts that are not applicable to your current teaching assignment? Set those aside in a different pile.  Torn or faded? Corners so chewed up by years of stapling they won’t even hold a staple anymore?  If you can afford to replace them, then recycle the damaged ones.  If you can’t replace them, then make the best repairs you can (trim off the torn corners and laminate for added durability?), and place in your “keep” pile. If you have more than one poster or chart representing the same information, do you need to keep them both? Would you hang up both at the same time? If not, choose one to part with.

Continue this process until you are left with the best of the best of the teaching aids, anchor charts, and educational posters. These are the items that, even though you have to have them, fit the vision you created for your classroom.  All the items that are damaged beyond repair or out-of-date go to the recycle bin.  The duplicate items you just sorted through can be given to another teacher who might be able to use them, so set those by your classroom door since they are on their way out.  The items that are no longer useful for your current teaching assignment?  That’s a judgment call.  If you don’t want to get rid of them (a lot of money invested and you might end up back in that grade level), then it is fine to hang on to them.  If classroom storage is an issue, I would take them home.  But if you are okay parting with them permanently, then set them by the door as well.

On Their Way Out

If you are really committed to this, that pile by the door should be pretty sizable!  These are all items that are in perfectly good condition and could easily be used by someone else. What you do with those items may depend on your school building. At mine, we used to just set things we no longer wanted in our work room or lounge, or even in the hallway for others to take. You know what they say, one man’s trash… Whatever you do, it’s important that you get them out of your room so you are not tempted to keep any of it.

I’m going to stop here for brevity’s sake, and because I’m not sure you could get through more than this in one day anyway.  Next up will be books and the papers we use to make our classrooms pretty.

KonMari for the Classroom

KMClassroomWell, it is August 1, and for many, especially my educator friends here in Texas, that means another school year is on the horizon. Ready to tackle your classroom with a renewed sense of purpose and organization? Wondering how to KonMari your classroom? Well, you are in luck!  I’ve decided to share some ideas on this. I spent 30 years in education – 15 as a classroom teacher, 11 as a technology facilitator, and 4 as a media specialist. In each of those roles, organization was always a high priority for me.  I can’t function in a mess, and I truly believe that most students can’t either. Even if being organized wasn’t a natural state for my students, they learned to be at least for the time they were in my room. I had systems in place for everything from turning in assignments to selecting the desired lunch item.  I could go on and on about ways to keep the kids organized (and I will), but you can’t get them organized if you aren’t organized yourself.

Create a Vision

Before you start unpacking all the boxes and bins that were stored for the summer, I want you to create a vision for your classroom. In your perfect world, what does your classroom look like? What’s on the walls?  How are the shelves organized? What systems do you want in place for your students to promote self-sufficiency? Think about the atmosphere you want to create. How do you want it to feel for your students as they walk in each day?  Draw a picture, make a list, print out your favorite pins from Pinterest – do whatever you need to so that you have something tangible that represents your vision. Now I want you to tape it to a wall or tack it to a bulletin board so that you see it every day while you are preparing your classroom for the coming year. This will be your reminder of what’s important to you and will help to keep you on track.

How Will This Work?

We’ll tackle your classrooms in a similar way to how Kondo recommends doing your home – sorting by category, discarding first, and using the storage containers and spaces you already have.  When we tidy our homes with the KonMari Method, we all know the key question is,  “Does this spark joy?” But that question is not as likely to work here – before you know it, you’d have an empty room! But you can still approach it from a positive viewpoint.  So while you’re standing there holding a stack of old newsprint, ask yourself, “Is this something I really want to keep?”  “Is this still useful to me?”  I’m willing to bet that a large portion of what we have in our cabinets is there simply because it always has been.  It might have been something that was useful once, but it’s not any longer, and we just don’t take the time to dispose of it. Now is that time.

Don’t Buy Storage Bins

I know you – teachers are lured by pretty bins and tubs and baskets in matching or coordinating colors and patterns. And with back-to-school stuff out now, it all screams, “Buy me!”  But I beg you – don’t do it.  First of all, the storage bins themselves take up a lot of prime real estate.  Secondly, as you are discarding, you will probably free up space in the bins and baskets you already have.  Wait until you’ve discarded everything and then see if additional containers are still necessary

 

Change Your Mindset

This will be toughest of all.  Teachers are pack-rats by nature for a couple of reasons.  1) We don’t make a lot of money, so we tend to keep anything that we think can be of use, and 2) Our frugality makes us industrious, so we are convinced that everything can be used for something.  Stop the madness! Eliminate “just in case” as a reason for keeping things. When was the last time you actually did an art project in your classroom?  I bet it’s been long enough that you can probably let go of the paint and yarn and craft sticks (at least some of them, anyway).

I speak from experience.  Before I retired, I spent weeks going through old files and boxes. We all know things can change in an instant so even though I had been out of the classroom for fifteen years, I kept things “just in case” I had to go back.  Well, that never happened and even if it had, much of what I kept couldn’t have been reused. I’m pretty sure a worksheet I made using a Thermofax machine back in the ’80s would hardly be relevant today.

So today is step one – create that vision for your classroom, and display it prominently in your room.  Then get ready to make that vision a reality.

My next post will focus on the category you probably have the most of – paper. Subscribe to this blog or check back in a couple of days, and be ready to KonMari your classroom.

Ditching the Digital Clutter 2: Files

Ditch the Digital Clutter 2 (1)Now that you’ve cleared out your e-mail and are excited by that progress (just remember to stay on top of it), we’ll move on to the files on your computer.  For most of us, digital storage, even in “the cloud”, is not unlimited; at some point, you will run out of space.  But even if you didn’t, even if you could have all the storage you needed and then some, for free, for EVER – would you really want that? The answer (I hope), is a resounding NO.  Just think about it…think back to all of the paper clutter you’ve already purged thanks to KonMari. Think about all of the paper that comes into your house on a regular basis. Now imagine throwing NONE of it away – ever.  I don’t care how neatly you might have it sorted, you do not need nor want every sheet of paper you’ve ever touched. And yet, digitize a file and somehow it becomes acceptable to keep it because it’s not taking up any space. But it is – and more importantly, having all that excess makes it difficult to find the files you actually need, when you need them.

I’m going to focus on how to purge and sort your personal computer, but these can also apply to work machines as well. Odds are your employer would prefer you not clog up precious server storage with lots of junk either. And adhering to some of these suggestions might also keep you from losing files.

Hard Drive and Cloud Storage

Even if you have all of your files on your computer, that might not be the only place you want to save them.  Computers die and with them go your files, so it is a good idea to have a back-up.  You could save to an external drive, but being a mechanical device, it is also prone to fail at some point, so your best bet is to use cloud storage.  Whether you choose to save all files to your hard drive and back up to the cloud, or save directly to the cloud is entirely up to you and likely determined by how old you are.  Digital natives (mainly millennials and younger) would likely never dream of saving to a computer; they are more likely to be cloud folks.  Digital immigrants, however, are less likely to trust something we can’t physically touch, so we tend to store in both.  The steps I will give you will work either way.

If you are using these tips to clean up a work computer, you are probably using server or cloud storage.  Either way, remember that personal files stored on work computers, servers, or cloud storage become the property of your employer and are not private. So it’s best to remove your personal items from your work computer for your own piece of mind.

Time to Purge!

As always, we are going to discard first, sort later.  For reasons I have never understood, some folks like to use their desktop screen as file storage.  Not only does this make for an incredibly cluttered desktop, but it also makes it a little hard to find anything. About the only time I put anything on the desktop is if it is a temporary file, something that I need just for that moment to attach to an e-mail or to download and print. Once I’ve used it, I move it to the trash and get it off my desktop. If you have files or photos on your desktop, trash any that you know you no longer need. Leave what is left and we’ll revisit them later in the process.

Access your file storage (whether hard drive or cloud) and set the window to list or details view instead of thumbnails or icons. This will allow you to see more of what you have at one time.  Also, we want to be able to see not just the name of the file, but the date, type, and size as well.

  • Sort by Date
    • Click on the Date Modified header to sort the list so that the oldest items are on top.
    • Ignore the folders and start with individual documents. These may be text documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc.
    • If you named your files well, it will be easy to tell whether or not you need to keep or delete the item.  If not, well…
      • Open each one item are unsure of
      • If you need to keep it, rename it so that you’ll know what it is
      • If not – delete!
    • Continue through the list of items until you’ve deleted all you do not need

***I am going to address photos in another post, but if you come across ones that you want to delete now, by all means – go for it!

  • Folders
    • Open each folder and follow the same procedure for individual files
    • If you empty an entire folder, delete it

If you are like me, you have files on your computer and files in the cloud. I have computer files, Google Drive files, and Dropbox files.  At the moment, there is no rhyme or reason to this, but as I am sharing these tips with you, I am also cleaning up my own mess.  So if you have multiple file locations, before you do any sorting, you’ll need to go in and follow the procedure above for deleting all of your extraneous documents.  While you are at it, if you have thumb/flash drives laying around, you’ll want to round them up as well. See what’s on each and if there are things you need to save, move them to your computer or cloud storage now for sorting.

Creating Folders and Sorting Files

Now that you’ve cleaned out all of the unnecessary files, it is time to sort them.  You wouldn’t just open a file cabinet and dump papers into the drawer, so you don’t want to do that with digital files either. How you sort your files is going to be determined by how many you have and how detailed you want to be. If you don’t have a lot of files, you might consider creating folders for each year (2016, 2015, etc.) and then just place the files into the corresponding folder.  If that is too broad and you prefer to sort by subject, you can do that instead.  Skim through your files and see which ones seem to naturally belong together.  Maybe you have a lot of recipes,  files related to a hobby, or spreadsheets for tracking expenses.  Create a folder for the group and name it (ex. Recipes), then move all of the related files to that folder.  Continue in that way until most, if not all, of your “loose” files have found a home in a folder.  If you have a few that don’t seem to fit anywhere, I think it is fine to leave them outside a folder.  You might find that later on you add files that can be grouped together to create a new folder.

And just in case you think I forgot, it’s time to go back to your desktop files.  Move them to the new folders you’ve just created. Clean desktop, sorted files…doesn’t that feel good?

Backing Up Your Files

All of this work is for naught if you don’t have your files backed up in some way. If you’re main storage is already on the cloud, then congratulations – you are done here!  But if you just did all of this work to the files that exist only on your computer, then you have a few more steps to go – but they are more than worth it.  There are many free cloud storage options available, and you may already have access through your e-mail provider or operating system.  Most can also be integrated with your computer so that they are accessible as a drive, which makes saving and retrieving files a breeze. Do some research to determine the best cloud storage provider for your needs.  Then set up your account and sync it with your computer. Once that is done, you should easily be able to move or back-up all of the files from your computer to your cloud storage.  Not only will your files be spared from damage to or loss of your computer, but you will have access to those files anytime, anywhere, from any device.  The digital natives in your life will be very impressed!

Maintenance

As with your e-mail, you have to stay on top of this if you don’t want to be drowning in loose files again.

  • Place items on your desktop TEMPORARILY – ideally, for no more than 24 hours. After you’ve done what you need to with the file, trash it.
  • If you have an item you must save, be thoughtful about which folder you put it in so that you can find it easily later.
    • If the file was created by someone else, be careful that you don’t change the file extension as that and render the file useless
    • If you created the file, give it a name that makes sense (moms_applepie)
  • Go back through your files at least once a year and see if you need to purge again. It will be much easier to do going forward now that you’ve done the hard part.

E-mail…check!  Computer and cloud files…check!  What’s next?  Digital photos…

 

Ditching the Digital Clutter: E-mail

1197149991928309730zeimusu_Thumbtack_note_email.svg.thumbWell, the sixty photo albums are going to have to wait because I was inspired to focus on something else.  I planned on dealing with this after I finished the house, but after I saw Marie Kondo’s post about tidying up your laptop, I decided to shift gears.  Time to tackle your digital clutter.

The clutter around our homes is easy to see – drawers that won’t close, counters covered with stuff, closets overflowing.  But digital clutter?  Well, just close your laptop or shut down the computer and poof – it’s gone – but not really.  The problem with digital clutter is that it doesn’t take up physical space, so we’re less likely to feel the need to tidy it up. But the reality is, storage space is limited and at some point, you will have to pare down. Clearing out old files now and staying on top of it could mean that maybe, just maybe, you won’t get those annoying “device storage almost full” messages ever again.

I want to talk about e-mail first because that’s the one thing that almost everyone has – and most of us probably have more than one account.  I’m going to consider e-mail to be the digital equivalent of clothing in the KonMari method. There probably isn’t a lot you’ll be emotionally attached to, and once you get going, it should be easy to determine which messages need to stay and which need to go. On the upside, clicking “delete” is a lot easier than filling trash bags.

You MUST Have a Personal E-mail Account

If the only e-mail account you have is the one you were given at work, you are making a huge mistake.  Yes, it may be more convenient and is one less password you have to remember, but your work e-mail is not private.  The account belongs to your company and so do all of your messages. So, instead of trying to remember if there is something in your account that you would prefer your boss and the IT guy NOT see, set up a free account through Yahoo, Google, or your home internet provider.

Inbox Overload

First as an Instructional Technology Facilitator and then as an Instructional Media Specialist, I spent fifteen years working with teachers on technology. Part of my job was also technical support, so I often had occasion to get on a teacher’s computer to do some troubleshooting.  I thought I had seen it all until the day I saw over 25,000 messages in one teacher’s inbox.  You read that right – twenty-five THOUSAND.  I’m hoping no one reading this is in the same boat, but if you have even hundreds of emails in your inbox, I’ve got news for you – you are NEVER going to read them. So let’s tackle this inbox KonMari style; the basics will be the same discard (or in this case “delete”), then organize, but we want to make sure we don’t get rid of the important e-mails that might be lurking.

  • Sort Keep from Trash
    • All e-mail systems have a way to create a new folder under your inbox, though they might call it something different. (Gmail refers to them as “labels”.)  Create a new folder/label and name it “Keep”.  This is where we are going to temporarily store the messages that you don’t want to get rid of.
    • To locate those messages, use your e-mail client’s search feature.  You can search the sender’s name or the subject of the message if you remember it.  In some cases you might have access to an advanced search that allows you to narrow down parameters even further (such as by date), which is especially helpful if you have a lot of emails that fit that search criteria.
    • Once you’ve found the message(s) you want, click to select each and drag over to your “Keep” folder.  Return to your full inbox, and repeat as many times as necessary to retrieve the messages you want.
    • All that remains in your inbox now should be trash.  Typically there are ways to select all the messages you can see – do that and start trashing!  It may take a while, but you will feel so much better as you see those items disappear.
  • Organize
    • You need to create folders/labels so that you have a place to put the messages that you want to keep so that your inbox doesn’t grow to huge proportions again.  Go into your “Keep” folder and look for multiples.  Any person, entity, or subject that you have multiple messages from should have its own folder.
    • Create those folders the same way you created your “Keep” one.  When you’ve got all the folders you need, open up the “Keep” folder and drag the messages to their new homes.
    • When the “Keep” folder is empty, delete it.  This will (hopefully) eliminate any temptation you have to use it as a holding tank for messages you want to deal with later.
  • The Trash is NOT a Holding Tank Either
    • The trash can is not a place to store messages you might need – that’s what those folders we just created are for.  Once every couple of weeks, empty the trash (if your system doesn’t do it automatically – some do.)  Again, that reduces the temptation to keep messages “just in case”.

Maintenance

If you don’t want to rebound here, you have to stay on top of it; we don’t have the same control over what lands in our inbox as we do over what lands in our closets. Since e-mails come in fast and furiously all day and all night; it is easy to find yourself buried all over again. So here are a few suggestions on how to maintain all the hard work you’ve just put in:

  • Read, Act, Move/Delete
    • Get in the habit of handling a message as soon as you open it, when possible.
      • Read (self-explanatory)
      • Act – Is there an action that needs to be taken? Does the e-mail require a response?  Is it a reminder of something you need to add to a calendar or to-do list?  Whatever the action is, do it as soon as practical so that you can do the next step which is…
      • Move or Delete –  If you need to keep the message for future reference, move it into one of the folders you already created.  If you only need it until the action is completed, leave it in your inbox – temporarily. As soon as you’ve completed the task or responded and no longer have to address the message, delete it.
  • Create a Separate “Junk” Account
    • If you don’t want the message about the family reunion to get lost in a sea of sales promotions, create an e-mail account that you use only for shopping or other times you’re asked to give an e-mail address and you don’t want to use your personal one.
  • Delete, Delete, Delete
    • Whether it is at work or at home, we all lead busy lives, and even with our best efforts e-mail can pile up again.  Take time periodically to go through and delete items you no longer need, even in those folders. If you access your e-mail on a mobile device,  do this when you have time to kill while waiting in line or at a doctor’s office.

This initial purge takes the longest, but once you’ve done it, maintenance will be much easier – just like when we KonMari our homes.

Next up – all those files on your computer…and your thumb drive…and the cloud…

Getting Back on Track

ON POINTI would love to tell you that the reason I haven’t posted recently is that I have been diligently KMing for the last month, have finished, and have lots of news to share with you. Unfortunately, that is not the case.  I was so ready to get back into it and get it all done before the school year ended but we had an unexpected house repair that needed to get done, so that took up a fair amount of time.  I also started a part-time job online, and I have discovered that I embraced my retirement so whole-heartedly, that getting back into a work routine of any kind is not as easy as I thought it would be.  So there’s that. And there’s also this – I share my home with my husband and you can’t KonMari other people’s stuff. So while there are spaces I really, really, really want to work on, I can’t because they are filled with items that he needs to address.  And he will – eventually.

There is some good news – I haven’t rebounded.  My dresser drawers are still as tidy as the day I learned how to fold the KonMari way, as are the kitchen cabinets and my desk. I’ve stayed on top of the paper clutter and we got all of my daughter’s tubs put away so that we can actually see the floor of her room.  So it’s not all bleak…it’s just that what lies ahead are the hard categories – sentimental items and photos.  Keep in mind, we held on to 400+ T-shirts for sentimental reasons…

So, how do you get back on track if you’ve fallen off the KonMari wagon? (Pardon the mixed metaphor…)  Here are my suggestions:

  • Revisit the Book – I don’t think it’s necessary to reread the entire thing, but skim through it, or just go over the Table of Contents even, to help remind you of things you might have forgotten
  • Have a Plan  – I’ve got the hard stuff ahead of me, so I know that I am going to have to schedule time and create space in order to be productive.  Make yourself a check-list, put tasks on a calendar, hang a “do not disturb sign” on your door – use whatever strategy you know works best when you have a big job ahead of you. Make a plan, set a deadline, and get busy.
  • Remember Why You Started This – What inspired you to KonMari your home in the first place?  The vision you have for your space – did you draw a picture or write a description of what that was?  If so, find it and hang it someplace prominent – the fridge, a bathroom mirror, above the coffee pot – wherever it will be a constant reminder of what you are striving for.  Sometimes all it takes to get going again is to remind yourself why you wanted it.

And here’s something else that might help. If you’ve got seven days to devote to a refresh or you haven’t started and want to dip your toes in the KonMari way, check out the 7-Day Kon-Mari Organizing Challenge.  I think it probably moves too quickly for a beginner, but I do think that it’s a good start and, it might actually be beneficial for those who’ve completed the process, but are feeling like clutter is creeping back in.

I promise it won’t be another month before you hear from me again, but I will tell you this – pictures are next for me and I’ve got 60 photo albums…

KonMari in Action

978-1-60774-730-7Marie Kondo is everywhere these days.  In the last few weeks she has been on The Ellen Degeneres Show and Rachael Ray.  There have been articles on Parade.com – Sunday With: Marie Kondo and an interview with Good Housekeeping.  There was even a Mother’s Day quiz on Elle Decor – “Who said it – Marie Kondo or Your Mom?”  But probably the most anticipated event for her loyal followers, was “Tidy up with KonMari” a two-part series that aired on NHK World.  We finally got to see her in action as she assisted two different women in New York to KonMari their homes.  The books are great, but nothing beats actually getting to watch her work her magic with real people (except maybe having her come and work on MY home!)  Don’t miss out – the videos are only available to watch until May 23!

The Women

Gina lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Marie walks through the house with her and sees items piled on every horizontal surface and spilling out of every drawer, closet, and cabinet.  I had my doubts.  And yet, the before and after is remarkable. Emily is single, but planning to move her boyfriend in with her.  She didn’t have as much clutter; it was mostly relegated to one room, but it was a room that was unusable because of the clutter.  And it contained the hard stuff – the sentimental items.  Yes, there were tears.  You really need to watch these episodes for your yourself to appreciate what KonMari does, but here are my take-aways:

Start with the End in Mind

Marie asks each of the women what their ideal life will be like after they’ve finished tidying.  That helps to set your goal and keep you motivated.  So draw a picture, make a list, or put up a photo that helps you to envision what your space – and your life – will look like when you are finished.

Gather and Sort Works!

Whether it is clothing, papers, or bathroom supplies, each and every time she brings categories to a central location and sorts them.  When you see like items all laid out in one place, you get a true sense of what you have and it makes it easier to discard those that you don’t need or want.  It is a lot of work, but you’ll see that it is the most efficient way.

Don’t Buy Storage Items

You probably already own all the bins, dividers, and boxes you will need.  And most items actually end up going into drawers and cabinets where space has been freed up.  Use what you have as you go.  I also noticed that some spaces ended up being temporary storage until they were complete.  Once you’ve finished discarding and your entire space has been KonMari-ed, then you can see if you need to buy something that you don’t already have.

Decisions, Decisions!

As you are going through this process, you are making a lot of decisions.  But remember this – you are deciding what to KEEP, not what to discard.  That initial shift in thinking is tough, but it really does improve your sensitivity to what holds value for you.  And Kondo says, if you really can’t decide, that is probably a sign that you should let the item go.

No Judgment

Marie does not make any judgments about what the women decide to keep.  She guides them when they seem to struggle and she is quiet as they work through the emotions. So if she’s not going to judge, you shouldn’t either!  If something sparks joy and you want to keep it, then keep it without guilt and move on.

It Can be Done

I was thoroughly impressed by the fact that both women were able to complete this in two weeks.  Yes, they did a little bit with KonMari at their side, but the bulk of the process was done during the two weeks that she was gone.  Granted, these were small New York apartments, but I’m not sure it’s about the size.  The women were committed and focused; you have to be ready and you have to want it.

We’re on hold here at my house.  Ready to get back at it after the garage sale, then some home repairs took priority.  But my KonMari journey is far from over…stay tuned!