Tidiness Coach works with you to calm home environments for maximum personal productivity.

What's driving you crazy about clutter? It's the little things.

What's driving you crazy about clutter? It's the little things.

Clutter is like mold: give it the right environment and it will thrive in all those hidden places in our homes. The piles that get swept into a junk drawer in each room. The old papers, scissors that need sharpening, the onesie with the marker stain, the doll with the arm to mend, the hammer that is perfectly good but you just never reach for it first, the coffee stirrers you think will make a good craft. 

Here's an example of how the crazy-inducing creep of little clutter gets eliminated in konmari. Take my take-out restaurant condiment packet category in the komono (miscellaneous) category. The pile was tiny but contained dozens and dozens of packets of ketchup, relish, special sauces, and sugar substitutes. Like mold in humidity, this collection had spread unchecked to take up a whole drawer in the kitchen and was about to spill into another drawer. They were also among my pencils, in pockets of the fridge door, throughout my car, on my desk, in my purse, in closets and in the pantry. Who knows how old they were?!?

Yes, I held each of those little ketchup/relish/special sauce/fake sugar packets in my hands for joy-sparking. It took all of 90 seconds to go through the whole pile. Every packet went in the trash. None sparked joy … after all, we had a big bottle of each in the fridge. (I did this when no one was looking. To the uninitiated, seeing me feel every sauce packet would have made konmari seem crazy.)

Photo credit: Oliur Rahman

Photo credit: Oliur Rahman

My approach before konmari would have been like plugging in a humidifier and sticking it in a moldy closet. I would have thought this task of sorting my condiment packages was both useless and beneath me. I would have changed no habits. I would have added more little condiment packages. I would have run out of drawer space for them. I probably would even buy some ugly white plastic organizer … or even the pricier-but-nicer beige organizer. EW! Then I would wonder why I have no place for the kitchen towels I use every single day. And this dynamic would be repeated in hundreds of ways with other small objects in my home.

Now? Having finished konmari … I see that those 90 seconds brought me some clear thinking. I do not use these packets. Why invite them in? Why give them space, however insignificant it may seem at the time? They do not belong here.

When I order out, I don’t “stock up” on packets because they have no home in my home. I take only what I need for that meal. The avoidance takes a split second to do. And I throw any accidentally-acquired leftover packets out. This would have made me gasp pre-konmari ... because I would not have understood my habit is let them sit and waste away.

Who can go through true konmari and NOT acquire anti-clutter habits?!? That’s so much a part of its life-changing, no-rebounding method.

Photo credit: Mike Petrucci

Photo credit: Mike Petrucci

So you are stuck in your konmari ...

So you are stuck in your konmari ...

Surprise! This housekeeping nemesis turns friend in our konmari.

Surprise! This housekeeping nemesis turns friend in our konmari.