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Declutter your home and business with Marie Kondo


Decluttering with Marie KondoHave you ever found it difficult to stay on top of your belongings either personally or in business? We’ve been testing the KonMari method of tidying by Marie Kondo and it’s transforming our lives. Spring has just arrived so I thought I’d share it with you, along with some thoughts about how it might be used in business.


The true goal of this method is to establish the lifestyle you want once your home or business has been put in order, so visualise your space as you’d most like to live or work. Then make your tidying an ‘event’ that you focus on, rather than doing it bit by bit.


Does It Spark Joy?

What’s most important is that you sort by category, not by location. Beginning at home, start with clothes first. Lay them all out on the floor in one room. Turn off all distractions like music and the TV. Usually when assessing our stuff we rationalise, which gets in the way of us discarding things. "I might need it" or "It's a waste to throw it away,” we say. The purpose of the exercise is to listen to your internal dialogue between your intuition and your belongings.


Start with off season clothes. Pick up each item one by one and ask yourself "does this spark joy for me?" Listen to your heart and if the answer sings “yes”, it goes into your wardrobe, if it's “no” or “maybe” then it’s discarded. It doesn't matter how old it is, how much it cost or who bought it for you.


The Importance Of Touch

It's important that you hold each item in your hand, as our bodies sense the energy and excitement of objects that spark joy for us. The idea here is to fill your wardrobe with clothes that energise your being. After you have sorted, fold your clothes carefully and store them well. When you put your clothes back into the wardrobe make sure they start with heavy dark items like jackets and coats on the left rising up through to lighter shirts, blouses or skirts on the right. You will feel pleasure opening your wardrobe when you have filled it with clothes that spark joy and are ordered in this way. 


Your Product Offering

It’s always been important to get products into customers’ hands when selling. Try this exercise with each product you sell. How do you feel holding it? Separate the gold from the dust and revitalise your offering. Do your products bring joy for your customers? If not, what do you need to do to change this? Once you have sorted your offering, group them in collections or stories to make them pleasing to your customers’ eyes.


Things Need To Be Enjoyed

Next up were books and trade magazines. Get them all onto the floor in one room. Pick up each one and ask “does this spark joy?” I was astonished to find myself clearing out 300 personal books at home and 100 business books at the office. Don't start reading the books, this causes confusion. There are few books that we will never read again. Some that I had not read or half read had still served their purpose, which was to teach me that I didn't need them. Plus if I ever wanted to read them I could buy them again. Pass unused books onto charities for others to enjoy. Most trade magazines can recycled and accessed via archives online.


The Order Of The Process

Starting with clothes followed by books gave me a good sense of iwhat objects spark joy for me. Next up were papers. Bleurgh. Excluding old personal diaries, Marie Kondi's method is to discard everything, which I found a little frightening at first. Especially at work. But I guess there’s not much joy in paperwork is there? Legally, businesses need to keep their financial records for at least six years. My bank holds statements online back to 2002, so I clicked a button for online statements and burned the paper ones. The same with utility bills, after digitally storing an image of the initial contracts on my computer. I also chucked old course notes, along with credit card statements, expired warranties and instruction manuals. Most can easily be found online.


Of the papers that had to be saved I split them into those that need attention and those that should be saved, such as contracts and tax returns. I then digitised the bare essentials using a ScanSnap S1300i which is a brilliant device that scans paper documents to PDFs. At work we are also minimising the digital storage of data to the bare essentials, so we don’t have huge swathes of unnecessary emails or data to search through for what we need. When work feels neat and tidy it’s easier to get on with your job.



Next up are what the Japanese call Komono, which means miscellaneous knick-knacks. Again, keep only items that spark joy. We cleared a load of old CDs, DVDs, health care products and accessories. If they were gifts, remember that once a gift has been received it has served its purpose unless it continues to spark joy. Get rid of all mobile phone packages, you don't need the cd or the manuals either. I got all of our electrical cables and items together and found we had eight gangway adapters! A load of cables we never use or need went to the recycling centre. At the office desks were cleared down to the essentials. All the stationery is now together in one place to make things easier to find and prevent over ordering. 


Dead Stock

Foyles bookstore recently cleared £1 million of slow moving stock to replace it with best sellers. Clear anything that you have over ordered. If you can get money for it, set a time limit for selling it. Then recycle or dispose of it to make way for better more profitable or joyful use of the space. At home clear your excess stocks too. You don’t really need more than a month’s worth of anything.



Photos are the most difficult, although my practiced intuition made it easier to tackle sentimental items last. Hold photos one by one to see if they spark joy. You don't need more than five photos of a special day or event. With keepsakes, if they don’t spark joy then discard. After this stage you should find something starts to click - this space and the number of items feels right for you.



Next, things need storing. Simple storage works best. All items of the same type must go in the same place. Don't scatter your storage space. For example, keep all electrical cables, batteries and electrical related bits and bobs in one place. At work put your best sellers in prime locations and make your storage pleasurable to look at. 


Nothing should be stored in piles, everything is best stored vertically as it’s better for the items and easier for access. The secret to reducing clutter is to have storage that reduces the effort to put things away, not storage that reduces effort for taking things out. Having the same type of things in one place also means they are easier to find, which will make your home and your business more efficient.


Let It Go

Reasons for not letting go of stuff are usually to do with a fear of the future or attachment to the past. It can also be a fear of acknowledging failure, for example, holding on to stock that cost a lot then didn’t sell. It feels great to be freed from all this and my mind is more in-tune now with what sparks joy for me and what I need to keep or discard. I can see clutter being less of a problem going forward as a result. I’ve been feeling more creative and I also find I can now appreciate our belongings more. Our home feels better to live in and our office is a nicer place to work. A joyful space also affects the choices we make about how best to use our time.


Imagine if all businesses focused on creating products or experiences that spark joy for their customers, staff and even their suppliers. It’s an exciting idea. I can’t wait to see how the process transforms Blue Eyed Sun and Ivy Ellen going forward.


Click here to learn how to make better decisions


How to get things done when you don't feel like it


Read the book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo