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Tips from a KonMari-Trained Pro: How to Declutter Your Home

December 30, 2021

Here’s how to get your clutter situation in order.

Picture this: you dedicate an entire weekend to organising and decluttering your home… only to end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and dreading the next time the clutter piles up again.

Sounds familiar? You’re not alone. Many people think decluttering is a tiring process that has to be done several times a year. In reality, all you need is a one-time overhaul, then set up a simple organisation system for maintaining it afterwards – no massive or frequent tidying sessions needed.

How does one go about doing this, you ask? Well, here’s what Dr. Aparna, a KonMari®-trained consultant and the person behind organisation service Global Mindful Journey, has to say.

1. Tell us more about yourself and your background.

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Source: Global Mindful Journey

Dr. Aparna (DA): Hi, I’m Dr. Aparna. I’m an organising consultant trained in the KonMari® method created by world-renowned home organiser Marie Kondo. I’m also a Montessori-trained parenting coach and a mother to two wonderful children.

Some parents believe that it’s impossible to have a clutter-free home with children. So, to guide them, I combine the Montessori philosophies with the KonMari® tidying method, to turn home organisation into a more positive experience for the whole family.

I also help them understand that home organisation is more than just the act of tidying up – it also involves an understanding of what is enough (knowing what you need and what you don’t need) and knowing what you want to achieve through it.

2. Why should we declutter? What are the benefits of doing so?

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DA: Research has shown that a clutter-free environment helps us become more productive. With clutter, you have so many things vying for your attention, which affects your decision-making ability.

Also, clutter is akin to unfinished business. Seeing it constantly suggests that we’re inefficient and lacking the time. It makes us angry, frustrated, and stressed out. By eliminating this visual clutter, it’ll help you feel calmer and more positive, thus overall improving your emotional well-being.

3. For the benefit of those who don’t know, what exactly is the KonMari organising method?

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DA: The KonMari® method emphasises organising by category rather than by room. Following this order, go around your entire home and compile everything belonging to each category:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. ‘Komono' (Miscellaneous items)
  5. Sentimental items

Once you’ve gathered everything, ask yourself which item you want to keep – not what to get rid of. If an item sparks joy within you, go ahead and keep it. If not, let it go with gratitude – and donate or give it to someone who needs it, if it’s still in good condition.

Then, set up an organisation system! Group similar items together in places where they’ll be needed – like cleaning supplies under your kitchen sink, for example. Also, keep your storage solutions simple – things like labels and square/rectangular boxes are more than enough.

With the KonMari® method, you’ll realise that tidying is a marathon rather than a sprint. If you declutter intermittently, it does result in brief moments of calm, but without a clear vision of your end goals and a proper organisation system where every item has a home, the clutter will gradually return.

4. What are the top tips you’d give someone who wants to get started?

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DA: Firstly, you should understand that the process will take you a couple of days (or weeks!), and that it’s a lifestyle choice. You’ll need to ensure that you’re ready to commit, because making any progress is only possible if you know that this is something you really want.

You can break down the categories in the tidying process into subcategories like blouses and pants (or whichever subcategory is easy for you to start with) and tackle them on different days. You can also start with books if it’s simpler to tidy than clothes. Ultimately, it allows you to objectively see how much you have, to help you decide what you don’t and do need.

Also, I can’t stress this enough: don’t buy organisation items at the start! While decluttering, you can always make do with what you have first – and only then will you know if you need more. If you do so at the start, you may end up with more organisation items than you need, which creates even more clutter.

5. It’s understandably harder for parents to keep up with their kids’ growing needs. What are your tips on ensuring things stay organised throughout their children’s lives?

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DA: It’s important for parents to finish tidying their own belongings first before involving their children. Not only are they setting a positive example to them, but they’re also going to be far more confident in teaching their children how to apply the method.

I then recommend that you set up an organisation system with your children by grouping similar items together and finding efficient locations for them. That way, you define the space based on their unique needs, and everyone will know where everything is. This supports children’s need for order & predictability.

Once you have that system, you can do some ‘maintenance tidying’ every 6 months. That’s when you look at their things and ask if these items fit into your children’s current needs. If they don’t, simply let them go with gratitude. There’s no need to do complete overhauls anymore since every item already has a place in your home.

And as much as possible, involve your children in this process however young they are. The period between the ages of 0-6 is crucial as they can absorb information more rapidly and involving them in their decluttering journeys will help them realise that letting go of things is a positive experience, and they will learn to be more responsible with their things.

6. For many Singaporeans, the store room is probably one of the most cluttered, disorganised rooms at home. Would tidying up the store room be any different compared to the rest of the house?

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DA: You can still use the same approach, actually! Bring everything out and lay them out on the floor. This gives you a bird’s eye view of everything inside, and it’ll also let you see if you have duplicates of the same thing.

Then, organise them into categorical piles – like pet accessories, appliances, cleaning supplies, etc. Once that’s done, you’ll realise that you don’t need some of these things in the storeroom, and then you can begin letting go of things you don’t need and placing the rest in more efficient locations.

Doing this frees up a lot of space in your storeroom, which you can use to store the remaining items. You don’t need organisation bins for this – in fact, labelling your shelves is enough to tell you where everything is. So, for instance, you can assign one shelf for travel-related items, and place things like suitcases and packing cubes there.

7. What are some of the challenges you’ve seen people face while decluttering, and how would you recommend overcoming them?

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DA: I’ve seen some of my clients finding it very difficult to let go of sentimental items. However, as human beings, we simply don’t have the attention span to love an infinite number of things.

One thing that helps my clients is by donating their items. The knowledge that these items are not going into the trash, but to someone who needs them makes letting go a lot easier.

8. We're seeing more loose decorative pieces displayed in open spaces at home. Where’s the balance between displaying these decor accents versus home essentials?

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DA: A lot of people prize the aesthetic they like during the renovation, but it shouldn’t be the only priority. You should also place a good amount of emphasis on your storage needs, by designing features that ensure a place for everything the moment you move in.

Additionally, if you prioritise decor too much, you’ll end up with more decor items that your home needs, and you’ll also find yourself lacking the right amount of storage space. I’d suggest waiting until you’ve fully moved into your new home before getting decor, because you’ll then know just how many pieces to get, and where they can go.

Think of it this way – you can have a beautiful home, but without the proper amount of storage, you’ll get two things: visual clutter, and an inefficient organisation system. These two things will make you frustrated and stressed out, and you won’t be able to fully appreciate the gorgeous home you’ve created.

Decluttering made easy with the KonMari® method

So, there you have it! By simply changing your approach, decluttering and organising your home needn’t be as overwhelming as you think. And, as above, it can also be a wonderful opportunity to instill a sense of responsibility in children!

For even more how-to articles like this one, check out our collection of home renovation and organisation-related guides here!

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