The world has become enchanted over the past several years by Marie Kondo’s beautiful book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—and her Netflix series that flooded thrift stores with clothing, toys, dishes (and pretty much everything else) when declutterers worldwide started following her example and tossing everything that didn’t spark joy.
If you’ve wanted to do likewise and create a peaceful, calm, organized home, but you feel like it’s too overwhelming or you don’t have the time–or that you’d only be opening Pandora’s Box by dealing with all your things, we are here for you.
At LearnDoBecome, we help people to create STEP Command Centrals. (STEP stands for Steps to Everyday Productivity.) A Command Central is a seamless system that holds all the papers, tasks projects, ideas, etc. that typically sit in “piles,” and though it might seem like we do exactly what Marie Kondo does, we actually create a very complementary system that works WITH her process.
Our specialty is helping you organize your MIND. Then you will be in a beautiful space—full of mental clarity—and you can take care of the clutter in your life using whichever method you most enjoy.
Today I’m going to walk through Marie Kondo’s process and show you exactly how to make it happen in your own home and family (using principles from STEP!).
The Tools We’ll Be Using Today
- Projects Brainstorm List: This is where you identify the projects that you want to accomplish, and you sort them by priority. I like to use “Current,” “In Progress/Waiting,” “Next in Line,” and “Someday” as my subcategories. And then within each of those, I have projects “For Me,” “For My Family,” and “Beyond.”
- Next Actions List: This is a weekly list that organizes very specific tasks by context, such as Home, Phone, Computer, Errands, and To Discuss
- Routines List: This is a list of recurring tasks, events, etc. that you do over and over again, organized with subheadings like Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly.
Ready to get started?
Let’s Define The KonMari Method
Many professional organizers recommend that we declutter our homes and offices by starting in one spot and moving in a clockwise direction. That has worked really well for me and my family, but so has the KonMari method. Here’s how the website, KonMari.com, describes it:
The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items.
In her books, on her website, and inside her Netflix series, Marie also teaches some specific ways to fold, store, and display your clothes, books, decor, etc. I think she is a genius, and I’ve adopted several of her methods (though I don’t always keep them up…).
There isn’t one “right way” to organize, but if you’re thinking the KonMari method would work well for you, here’s how you’d implement it using your STEP Command Central:
STEP 1: Identify and choose the priority level for the projects involved.
If I were creating a Projects List, it might look like this (digital or paper versions can work):
- Clothing/KonMari Method
NEXT IN LINE:
- Books/KonMari Method
- Papers/STEP System
- Komono/KonMari Method
- Sentimental Items/KonMari Method
Here’s a little more explanation on what’s written above:
- I only wrote projects specific to “Tidying Up” on this list, but your full Projects List could include a variety—for me, for my family, and “beyond”—kept together or listed separately.
- A complete Current Projects List has 7-8 projects for the month—divided into those three categories (listed in the bullet point above). The goal is for the whole list to look doable within a month’s time, given the responsibilities on your plate.
- The reason I put STEP for papers is because that’s our specialty. People actually come to us and say, “I used Marie Kondo for getting rid of a lot of stuff….but I need more on papers!” Marie recommends getting rid of as many papers as possible, which we agree is key. But if you want to know what exactly to do with all the papers you need to keep, that is where we come in!
- You may want to create “feeder” lists for Personal, Family, and Beyond projects. I brainstorm those in Asana and post my Current Projects in my office on my white board.
STEP 2: Identify your Next Action!
Chances are that you’re not going to start right this minute getting all your clothing decluttered? Why?
Maybe you have some decisions to make first—like what “style” you’re going to go for or if you’re going to finally get rid of those clothes you haven’t been able to fit into for years…. Maybe you want the whole family to do this together and you need to get them on board. Maybe there’s a ton of stuff in your bedroom that you want to move out first so that there’s room to sort. Maybe you need to clear the trunk of the car so you can put clothes in there that you’d like to donate.
To identify your Next Action, you ask yourself this question: What is ONE thing you could do in 10 minutes or less to start moving this project forward? Should you set a date on the calendar? Have a conversation with your family? Talk with a good friend about what’s stressing you out about this project? Prepare the environment to make sorting easier?
If there’s anything stopping you from making progress, boil your next step down to the most basic task so you couldn’t procrastinate even if you tried.
You then take that Next Action and put it on your Next Actions List in the appropriate context.
STEP 3: Use your Next Actions List and Projects List to organize new ideas as you’re decluttering.
This part is so important, and while our free class (linked at the bottom of this post) will go into greater detail, I want to explain why this is essential.
Imagine that you’re pulling out your clothing and making a big mountain on your bed, but while you’re doing that, you realize a few things….
- You really need to buy some new socks and underwear
- The closet light switch is broken and needs to be repaired
- About 40 items need to be ironed, and
- A package underneath your shirts was supposed to be mailed to your brother for his birthday months ago
This is what I mean when I say you might feel like you’re opening Pandora’s Box whenever you start to clean. You’re absolutely going to discover new tasks, projects, ideas, etc. as you go, and you need somewhere to put those things so they’re not floating around in your head…
“Buy socks and underwear,” for example, would go on your Errands List.
“Repair the closet light switch” might go on your Someday Project List.
“Iron clothing” could become a blocked-out appointment on your calendar, since you’re in catch-up mode right now and probably need quite a bit of time to do it. (Otherwise, it would go on your Routines List.)
“Prepare package for mailing” could go on your Home List—because you already have the wrapping paper and packing tape ready in the basement.
See how much confidence that gives you while you’re organizing? No fear. Just keep moving. You can sort through your clothing, keep only that which sparks joy, and even fold all the items the way Marie Kondo suggests!
STEP 4: When you’re finished, identify the routines that will help you maintain what you just completed.
This is another key that seriously makes me so happy—because I used to work for hours to clean my room, go back to all my old habits and let it get messy again, and then start from scratch and clean it ALL OVER AGAIN. So frustrating.
Instead, once I’ve gotten something organized, like my closet, for example, I ask myself, “What do I need to do every day/week/month/quarter/year to keep it looking like this?” I add those ideas to my Routines List, which I review weekly. Here are a few examples:
- Hang up my clothes or put them in the appropriate laundry basket (we do one for darks, one for lights, and one for hand wash) as soon as I take them off.
- Wash the dirty laundry.
- Fold my laundry as soon as it gets out of the dryer and put it back where it belongs.
- Vacuum the closet.
- Tidy anything that has gotten out of place.
- Hand wash necessary items.
- Iron anything that needs to be ironed.
- Donate any clothes from the previous season that I didn’t wear.
- Dry clean any coats, dresses, etc.
- Purchase any additional clothing needed for the upcoming season.
- Do a thorough cleaning of the closet.
- Replace nylons, underclothing, socks, etc. that are worn out.
These routines would be intermingled with other personal/family routines on your list (I use Asana.com to organize mine so I can add calendar triggers, if needed), but it brings such peace of mind because I know if I can just do a few things to maintain my work, I’m saving a ton of time in the future!
I hope these ideas were helpful, and I’m excited for you to be able to use these tools to actually get the “organizing” done.
Here’s a quick review of the 4 steps (easy to add to a Pinterest board so you can remember it later!).