When the hardcover edition of Marie Kondo‘s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up landed on my office desk back in 2014, it collected dust right next to the press samples of makeup that didn’t match my complexion.
I skimmed through a couple of pages of the self-help guide and couldn’t grasp the concept of tossing clothes that no longer “sparked joy.” When I looked inside my closet, every dress, blazer and high-heeled bootie made my eyes light up.
Much like the clients featured on the organizing consultant’s hit Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, a rush of anxiety comes over me when decluttering. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, but an addiction to shopping was passed down to me from my mother, and it manifested itself in the mountain of pieces I collected over the years.
Five months pregnant with my first child, I decided to make a conscious effort to actually sort through my belongings so that I could free up space for my little one. The first step in my “tidying up” journey … hiring a professional organizer.
I discovered Amanda Jefferson of Indigo Organizing after doing a quick Google search. She is a certified KonMari consultant — yes, there’s such a thing — who was one of the first organizers in the world to be trained by Marie herself.
After three organizing sessions, we packed more than 10 contractor bags with clothes to donate or trash, artfully displayed a few fashion accessories — like my hot pink Saint Laurent handbag — and organized the hallway closet with on-the-go essentials for a new mom. Amanda taught me how to fold clothing just like Marie, helped me sort through hundreds of unused gift cards and gave me organizing homework to tackle using Evernote, a handy app for creating digital to-do lists.
So how am I doing eight months later? Here are six Marie Kondo-approved tips that I’ve learned and applied to my regular routine for staying organized.
1. Conduct regular underwear ‘joy checks’
I would typically do laundry every four to six weeks. You’re probably wondering how is that even possible. Well, when you’ve amassed an underwear collection like I had, then there’s always clean bras or underwear lying around. But I have to admit, not all of my underthings were in the best condition.
During our first organizing session, Amanda instructed me to go through my underwear collection and throw away anything that had holes or loose seams and was stretched out beyond support. Next, she showed me how to fold and put away everything inside these mini storage boxes from IKEA. This allowed me to make enough space to tuck bulky nursing bras inside my top drawer — a feat I thought I’d never accomplish.
Once that was done, I still had an impressive collection of bras, underwear and lacy lingerie. So Amanda advised that I do regular underwear “joy checks” to ensure that I got rid of pieces that were practically falling apart. After giving birth, I did my due diligence and tossed maternity fold-over underwear and ill-fitting bras.
2. Fold and store clothing upright
You’d think I’d have this down pat after working at the Gap when I was in college, but there is a way to properly fold, and it doesn’t require one of those fancy flat boards to get the job done.
After I dumped all my clothes onto my bed and asked myself, “Does this spark joy?” Amanda proceeded to introduce me to the art of folding KonMari style. Smoothing out the fabric is key and the trick to successfully storing everything upright, from bulky sweatshirts to knit socks. And as a commuter, I’ve seen this make a huge impact in cutting down the time I spend getting ready each morning.
3. File important documents in ‘pretty folders’
I used to have a bad habit of tossing my mail atop the kitchen counter or refrigerator. Because all my bills are on autopay and I didn’t grocery shop at any of the markets that mailed me fliers including coupons, I ignored the large stacks of paper until I absolutely couldn’t stand staring at them any longer.
Amanda had the simple yet brilliant idea for me to invest in “pretty folders” that “spark joy” so that I could file mail and label it accordingly. I no longer had to spend 15 minutes hunting for the electric bill from three months ago.
Another helpful tidying-up tip Amanda shared for keeping my home office organized was to scan and upload important documents such as my apartment lease or medical records from my obstetrician to Dropbox. I now keep a “pretty folder” for household utilities and one for my son’s personal records.
4. Store baby diapers and wipes inside a pocket shoe organizer
When it comes to parenting advice, I mostly let other people’s opinions go in one ear and out the other. But when Amanda put me on to this baby-essentials storage hack, I listened and watched intently.
As a mother herself, Amanda knows a thing or two about making sure you have everything you need at your fingertips for your children at any given moment. She recommended that I store baby diapers, wipes and toiletries inside a hanging plastic shoe organizer inside my hallway closet.
With these must-haves tucked away near the front door, I could easily grab anything last-minute before taking my son to a doctor’s visit or a stroll around the block. I also keep a plastic shoe organizer filled with baby essentials inside his bedroom closet — this helps to eliminate a clutter of boxes.
5. Place dry cleaning clothing by door
I’m sure I’m not the only person who lets her dry-clean-only clothes sit for weeks on end at the bottom of the laundry basket. Sadly, this resulted in quite a few stains that never washed out. To avoid forgetting (or ignoring) these items, Amanda proposed placing them inside a canvas tote bag near the door. No more excuses for not getting my dry cleaning done.
6. Keep bathroom vanity clutter-free
The biggest task during my organizing sessions was sorting through boxes full of beauty products. Even though I try very hard not to bring home press samples of makeup, hair tools and skin care, these things took up real estate in every crevice of my home. My bathroom storage was a joke, with glass jars toppling out of the medicine cabinet and liquids leaking onto the vanity. Most of the beauty products were half used or unopened.
We purged and purged and purged beauty products. Then we made DIY storage boxes for my everyday bath and body must-haves, recycling press packaging and labeling with a black marker what each box held.
To keep odds and ends like Q-tips and feminine hygiene products out of reach for my exploring infant, Amanda suggested stowing these items in plastic bins behind a closed cabinet. It all came down to one simple truth: If I can’t see it, I can’t use it.
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