Chairs stacked on each other at different angles

As a professional tidying consultant, most people assume I have a magic formula for keeping my life organized. It’s as if they imagine I’m Mary Poppins reincarnated with clothes folding, the broomstick sweeping and the clothes washing magically all on their own. This makes it difficult for them to grasp how to translate what I teach them to their own lives.

After working with me for a while though, the illusion of some mystical tidying perfectionist vanishes. They find that what it comes down to is cold, hard habit creation. Using the KonMari Method, I teach them the six basic rules to tidying in order to transform their lives and homes.

Everything else along the way can fall into these six categories if you think about it hard enough. As the new year fast approaches, we need this radical transformation now more than ever.

Below are the six basic rules for tidying up your home and life:

1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

Internally, acknowledge the fact that you intend to change your life forever by decluttering your life and bringing joy back to your daily routine. Affirm your plan to do it completely and all in one go. The power of these affirmations will encourage you to keep tidying as the day goes on.

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

Envision the type of home you want to live in, why you want to live in it and how you plan on living in it. This aspect of the tidying process can represent a monumental turning point if you do it correctly. Your home, just like the world, is your oyster. Craft it however you would like!

3. Finish discarding first.

When you tidy your home without first discarding what no longer sparks joy, you will find yourself in a constant state of re-organization. You don’t want a home that looks organized on the surface but behind closed doors the storage units are filled to the brim with unnecessary, unjoyful and unuseful belongings that you just don’t have the courage to throw away. Hold every item you come across in your hand, ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, then discard it.

4. Tidy by category, not by location.

Never tidy room by room. It won’t work. If you do, then you will find that you have only shuffled your items from one location to another. When this happens, you don’t get an honest assessment of the volume of your belongings. Instead, tidy by category and all in one go. For example, if your organizing clothes then grab all the clothes in your home, lay them down in one spot and do the joy check.

5. Follow the right order.

The correct order for tidying is clothes, books, papers, komono (i.e. miscellaneous objects) and sentimental items. If you have yet to hone your skill of discarding, then start practicing by beginning with the clothes category. These are emotionally easier to part worth while sentimental items like photographs should be one of the last to be tidied until you’ve perfected your craft.

6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

When deciding what to keep versus what to discard, ask yourself if the possession sparks joy. Touch it, hold it tightly in your hands and listen to how you respond to its energy. If it sparks joy, then you should feel a thrill of excitement in your body. Whereas if you feel heavier, then it’s likely because the belonging no longer sparks joy. Let go of these things with an attitude of gratitude and a new sense of appreciation for what you choose to keep.

At the end of the day, if your mentality regarding tidying your home and life doesn’t change, then nothing will. These six rules will enable you to truly transform your life by tidying it up in a simple way that is maintainable. Think of it like shock treatment.

Most importantly, remember that the universe is on your side if you’re committed to getting it done and changing your life. The start of the new year is the best time to do this because you’ll be setting the tone for all of 2020.

What strategies do you have to get organized? What are some simple ways you can keep your home tidy?

Image via Frank Terry, Darling Issue No. 21

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