The KonMari Method: Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo sold millions of copies of her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Her throw-it-all-out, minimalist approach is based on the logic that, when you touch an object, it should spark joy. If it doesn’t, whether it’s a spatula or a suit, you’re supposed to shuttle it. Obviously, her ultra-pared-back approach isn’t for everyone; book lovers were outraged that Kondo said she once ripped her favorite pages from books so she didn’t have to clutter her shelves with too many titles.
The OHIO rule: “Only Handle It Once” is a standard junk-battling refrain, perhaps best for controlling things constantly coming into your abode: mail, free totes, cheap toys from kids’ birthday parties. You can also OHIO things you’re trying to sort out by deciding whether you’ll keep something and then selling, donating or tossing it. And no, you can’t run back to the dumpster to “rescue” things after you’ve made up your mind.
The one-year question: Haven’t worn that shirt, used Aunt Mildred’s teapot or powered up your VHS player in more than a year? It’s time to toss it. Can you hold on to a few items for sentimental reasons? Sure, but within reason. It’s one thing to keep one of your late father’s pipes if you don’t smoke, but you’re getting close to “Hoarders: Tobacco Row Edition” if you’re keeping 50 of them.
Everything in its place (or that fits your space): Except for rare instances (you own a collection of Matisse paintings that you need to protect), you shouldn’t buy or keep more stuff than your space will hold. This means stopping shopping (or purging garments) when your closet is so stuffed that it won’t shut or making Junior give away a few stuffed animals when the toy box overfloweth.
The FlyLady Cleaning Method: Marla Cilley is the FlyLady; before she became famous for home organization, she taught fly-fishing. (No, really.) FlyLady’s website is full of manageable strategies and tools for getting your abode in order. She suggests starting off small and working in bursts. She says: “Your home did not get dirty in one day, and it will not get clean in a day, either.” But anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. Set a timer and devote short intervals (15 to 20 minutes) to throwing out and tidying up. Other tips include doing a load of laundry each day to avoid piles and identifying “hot spots” that collect clutter.
Get help: Whether you enlist your dapper friend to help you winnow down your collection of, ahem, 200 bow ties, or you go through family photos with your kid brother, it helps to have another set of eyes and hands on your stuff. Hiring a professional organizer by the project or hour is another option. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals is a good place to look for one; its members must undergo hundreds of hours of training and education to receive certification.
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