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Super Organizer: How to Joyfully Declutter Your Entire Life

Marie Kondo ignited a tidying revolution but why just spark joy at home? Here are the best ideas from a range of experts about how to organize your life.
by Michael Benninger | Apr 25 2019

If you logged into Netflix a few months ago, there’s a good chance you were greeted by a smile from Marie Kondo, a Japanese author and organizing consultant whose new television series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, premiered on the streaming service in January.

How To Become a Better Organizer by Decluttering Every Aspect of Your Life

Inspired by her 2015 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the show focuses on Kondo’s sessions with families and couples seeking to become better organizers. In its simplest form, Kondo’s “KonMari” methodology distills down to keeping belongings that “spark joy” while letting go those that don’t. This enlightened attitude toward possessions — paired with Kondo’s adorable interactions with her proteges — made the show an instant success and worldwide phenomenon.

Kondo’s book and her subsequent TV show have spurred millions of people to embrace the practice of decluttering. And now, other authors are sharing their unique perspectives on organizing, including Gretchen Rubin in her new book Outer Order, Inner Calm. Rubin, who previously tackled the topic of tidiness in her 2012 title, Happier at Home, delves far deeper into the subject in her latest book, which also touches upon the many benefits of decluttering.

The Benefits of Decluttering

Decluttering offers a wealth of benefits, as Rubin notes in Outer Order, Inner Calm, including freeing us from trapped states of mind and instilling a sense of control in other areas of life. And research also suggests that abundant clutter can have a negative impact on subjective well-being, whereas physical order leads to healthier decision-making.

But why did it take until 2019 for tidying to start trending and for #OrganizationPorn to overtake Instagram? What’s behind this newfound fascination with becoming better organizers, and why, in particular, has the practice struck a chord with so many Americans?

Perhaps it’s in response to the fact that Americans are unhappier than they’ve been in years, and reducing clutter has been linked to higher levels of self-satisfaction. Or maybe it’s because climate change, political instability, and, more importantly, the end of Game of Thrones leaves us living in uncertain times. During such periods, ritualized behavior — such as decluttering — can reduce anxiety by allowing us to exercise some semblance of control over our lives.

Regardless of why decluttering has become such a hot topic, the trend is now extending beyond closets and countertops and into other areas of our lives. Indeed, some people are seeking to reap more of the benefits of shedding belongings by incorporating the tenets of tidiness into other aspects of their day-to-day lives.

A Deeper Decluttering

The popularity of the KonMari method has left many individuals evaluating other areas of their lives and eliminating elements that don’t spark joy. From bank accounts and calendars to social media pages and states of mind, clutter clobberers are now taking aim at less-tangible aspects of their existence.

Among the chief proponents of this process is Professor Cal Newport, the author of 2015’s Deep Work and his new book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. With a nod to Marie Kondo, Newport encourages members of modern society to achieve greater levels of happiness by decluttering their relationships with digital domains, including their inboxes, smartphones, and social media networks.

Digital Minimalism guides readers through the process of simplifying their online spaces in order to become more effective at work and, generally, in life. Newport advocates beginning with a 30-day period of complete digital decluttering, which differs from a digital detox, because a detox assumes an eventual return to the initial habits.

Newport is far from the only author to suggest ways to live better by living with less. And as decluttering takes on a new, broader definition, it’s evolved into a practice that’s about more than simply finding the best place to put your possessions.

The Evolution of Organizing

If you’re interested in experiencing more of the benefits that come along with becoming a better organizer, here are several suggestions offered by some of today’s top writers.

Make a List of Everything on Your Mind

In The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, author Sarah Knight suggests decluttering your thoughts by making a list of everything you regularly think about and identifying which thought patterns are pointless.

Take Care of Quick Tasks First

Trim down your to-do list in no time by making a habit of immediately tackling tasks that take less than 2 minutes, advises author Joshua Becker in The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.

Make Life Easier on Your Heirs

Margareta Magnusson, in The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, details the principles of döstädning, the Nordic tradition of tossing belongings before death, rather than leaving them to grieving kin to sort through.

Declutter Your Plate for a Longer Life

In Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, authors Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles explain how eating simple, small portions of antioxidant-rich food extends the longevity of Okinawan people.

Transcend Materialism by Opting for Experiences

Stuffocation author James Wallman argues that the cure for drowning in abundance is embracing experientialism and learning to value memories more than material possessions.

Ditch Perfectionism to Declutter Your Calendar

A competitive attitude can undermine your efforts as an organizer, which is why The Free-Time Formula author Jeff Sanders advocates abandoning a perfectionist mindset to simplify your schedule.

Reduce Your Reliance on Money

Financial woes can lead to a tremendous amount of mental clutter according to Minimalism authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who offer tips to adopt a radically simple approach to money management.

Limit Yourself to the Essential

In The Power of Less, self-help blogger Leo Babauta explains that by identifying tasks and projects that are truly essential to your purpose, you can live blissfully and make meaningful progress on efforts that actually matter.

If you don’t have time to read the full text of these titles, Blinkist makes it easy to discover their key insights in mere moments. Continue your journey toward living with less by exploring any (or all) of these books today.

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