You may not know her name, but you've definitely heard of Marie Kondo's approach to getting organized: she's the "spark joy" lady. Her books, including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, are bestsellers. Her approach, called the KonMari method, is an international phenomenon.
But - is it for you?
Maybe you've read one of her books, or watched one of her videos, and thought, "I should try this. I've tried other ways to get organized and they haven't worked - maybe this one is it!"
There's no such thing as a fits-all system. Having said that, I have read her books, and watched her videos, and I've found some things that tend to work for me and for my organizing clients, and some things that don't. First, 3 things I love about the KonMari method:
1. Organize things one category at a time.
The KonMari method tells you to choose one category of things, rather than one space in your house, and organize all of that kind of thing at the same time. This is helpful because it gives you a total picture of what you have. Let's say you're organizing room by room. You maybe find 2 or 3 pairs of scissors in your kitchen and think, "2 or 3 pairs of scissors is how many I need." A few months later you find 2 or 3 pairs in the bathroom and think the same thing. A few months later, the same thing in the guest bedroom, and so on. You don't realize that you really have 40 or 50 pairs of scissors in your house - the way you would if you organized all your scissors at once - when you only want to own 2 or 3.
2. Work from least to most sentimental.
You already know this - things that bring back memories are the hardest to make decisions about. When you're working on getting organized, try practicing on items that aren't as tough. Like, deciding how many rakes you need, and where you should keep them, is probably not a hot-button issue for you. It can help to build your confidence, and your organizing expertise, to work on less-sentimental categories first - before you tackle mementos like family photos.
3. Check in with each and every item in your space.
This is where the "spark joy" part comes in. When you follow the KonMari method, you're supposed to hold in your hands absolutely every item in your home and see what kind of feeling you have. If that item brings you joy, it's a keeper. If it brings you guilt, sadness, shame, or another negative emotion, it may be time to discard it.
Yes, this sounds a little "woo-woo."
But she's got a good point. Why would you want to have something in your home - your safe spot in the world - that brings you feelings of guilt, or sadness, or shame?
Now, 1 thing I don't love about the KonMari method:
1. You should get organized all at once, for good.
This approach seems to be set up as a kind of shock treatment, where organizing everything you own in a short period of time will re-set you somehow into a perennially organized person. I have yet to meet anyone this works for. Lots of people get so overwhelmed by organizing that they are physically only able to do a little bit at a time. And life has a way of happening - you have a baby, you get a new job, you move across the country, you lose a parent - and your ability to organize can go right down the tubes.
Getting organized is a process.
It takes time. Your organizing needs, and your organizing abilities, change over time. Give yourself a break.