Posts tagged with "Decluttering"

Dirt, be gone: Clean your home in short, productive spurts with the Flylady Technique

June 9, 2020

Many of us wouldn’t necessarily choose to organize, even with Marie Kondo; or to use the white-glove method to test our dusting skills. And, even during the pandemic, we will sheepishly admit that we’re not disinfecting all of our food purchases or our delivery boxes. In fact—dare we say it?—the less time spent cleaning, the better.

But now, there’s a daily cleaning and organizing method that seems to be just for us—and it’s called the FlyLady Technique, according to a report by Better Homes and Gardens.

In fact, between January 2019 and January 2020, Pinterest searches for “fly lady cleaning schedule” have surged 40%, while queries for “Marie Kondo” have plummeted 80%.

Marla Cilley, a cleaning and organizing specialist from North Carolina, started the FlyLady mentoring group more than 20 years ago (the name FlyLady was inspired by her love of fly-fishing). Her aim was to offer a practical approach to organizing that prevents homeowners from feeling overwhelmed.

The FlyLady system breaks down household cleaning and organizing projects into focused 15-minute increments. The easiest way to follow the method is to sign up for Cilley’s emails, which you can do for free on the FlyLady website. You’ll receive daily messages—including a checklist for the day, suggested cleaning routines, projects to tackle for the week, and testimonials from other FlyLady users.

Otherwise,  Better Homes and Gardens suggests, you can access FlyLady’s content via FlyLadyPlus, a free app for iOS devices that gives users access to her basic routines and cleaning tasks. Cilley also offers a subscription-based app called FlyLady Messenger, which sends her daily messages, testimonials, and “behavior modification reminders,” such as to drink water or start a load of laundry, as push notifications instead of emails and costs $29.95 per year (available only for iOS devices).

Based on Cilley’s observation that it takes 28 days to form a habit, the FlyLady cleaning schedule begins with four weeks of small, daily tasks that she calls BabySteps. (One example is to shine your sink, a simple cleaning task that Cilley says kicked off her own process of whipping her home into shape and later led her to create FlyLady.) For the remaining 27 days, subscribers receive daily emails to help them establish consistent routines for cleaning and organizing.

The next phase in the FlyLady schedule is decluttering. Dividing the home’s major living areas into five areas, Cilley focuses on one zone per week for 15 minutes a day, then rotates through all the areas each month:

  • Zone 1: Front porch, entryway, dining room
  • Zone 2: Kitchen
  • Zone 3: Master bathroom, plus one other room (home office, kids’ playroom, guest bedroom, or craft area)
  • Zone 4: Master bedroom, bathrooms, and closets
  • Zone 5: Living room

Zone one always starts on the first of the month and you move on to another space every Sunday. (Depending on how the dates fall on the calendar, zones one and five might not always receive a full seven days’ worth of cleaning and organizing.) Every month, you repeat the schedule, which should become more manageable over time. “As one area gets cleaned, it will become easier to do, and you will have more time to face those areas that don’t seem to fit in any zone,” Cilley writes on her website.

Within those daily 15-minute periods, FlyLady recommends rapid-fire organizing projects such as the “27 Fling Boogie,” which involves gathering 27 household items to throw away as quickly as possible; and the “Hot Spot Fire Drill,” a strategy for tackling a specific area that attracts clutter, such as the dining room table. These short spurts are designed to divide an out-of-control mess into bite-sized tasks you can tackle over time.

And, at least according to her half-million-plus followers on Facebook, the FlyLady method works. One Facebook reviewer writes, “Flylady helped me get a handle on home maintenance and decluttering when I was overwhelmed with homeschooling and part-time work. She has great, supportive and wise counsel. She freed me from thinking I had to do things perfectly and taught me I can do anything for 15 minutes.”

That’s the idea: Making your impossibly long to-do list more manageable through short bursts of activity.

Research contact: @BHG

A new kind of ‘Goop’: Marie Kondo’s new website sells highly curated items that ‘spark joy’

November 21, 2019

Just as actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, sells curated—and expensive—items in a “shop of clean beauty, fashion, and home”  (think: Luxe Brass Fire Extinguisher for $250), now decluttering expert Marie Kondo is producing a lifestyle platform that offers pricey products that will “spark joy” (think: cement live edge bowl for $145).

In her best-selling book and popular Netflix series, both entitled, Tidying Up With Marie Kondothe Japanese organizing consultant advises clients to clean up their homes (and, by extension, their lives) by decluttering and getting rid of excess junk so that they can be happier and healthier overall.

But isn’t buying new stuff at an online store just a way to clutter up again? It seems counter-intuitive.

“The shop came about because I always like to share how I tidy every day, and in the process of doing that, I always ask myself, ‘Well, why do we tidy in the first place?’ The answer is to live a life that sparks joy,” Kondo told Fortune Magazine in a recent interview.

Kondo explained that she received a lot of queries and feedback from fans about the products she uses  on an everyday basis, and this is meant to be reflected in the catalog of items.

“When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising,” is just one of the Kondo quotes serving as taglines for the collection.

The collection will launch with approximately 150 items, ranging in price from $10 to $300, applying to various situations that one might encounter around the home and organized by activity—dinner parties, bathing routines, aromatherapy, and purification rituals. Kondo helps illustrate the concept of a purification ritual with a tuning fork ($50)—among her favorite products included in the collection—which she uses to purify the air in her home

Among Kondo’s other favorite items are incense and a donabe (a $150 Japanese clay pot described by Bon Appetit  magazine as a “one-pot wonder”), which she uses on a daily basis. As Kondo explains, it’s one of the oldest types of cooking vessels in Japan; and in the wintertime, it’s Japanese tradition to have a “donabe party,” at which hosts have their friends and family over, make a big pot with vegetables and tofu, and share it over conversation.

Each item was chosen for its ability to enhance the owner’s daily rituals and inspire a joyful lifestyle. They come from brands deemed to specialize in simple, elegant design across categories, including kitchenware, decor, bath essentials, and aromatherapy. And of course, there are be tidying products, including trays, shelves, and baskets.

“They are ‘tidy chic’ because even your dustpan should spark joy,” notes a spokesperson for the brand.

Arguably, it may seem counterintuitive that the next step for KonMari is encouraging followers to go out and buy more stuff, especially given the fervor to start spring cleaning in midwinter earlier this year.

“That’s something we carefully considered, of course,” Kondo replies. “For me, the emphasis is not on trying to throw out as much as possible but to choose what sparks joy for you. The ultimate goal with my method is for people to really hone their sensitivity to what sparks joy for them so they can make a considered, cautious purchase.”

In regards to how this should work, Kondo advises that you first finish tidying. Once you’ve done that, you might then consider looking at the shop. “It’s not my intention at all to encourage you to buy something that is redundant to you,” Kondo explains.

The collection will went live online on Monday, November 18, via, with new products expected to be added monthly.

Kondo offers a closing piece of advice: “I know it’s an odd thing for a founder to say—they’re lovely products—but don’t overbuy! Tidy first, and then consider the products.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

What’s with all of the decluttering?

January 17, 2019

Healthcare. Gun control. Privacy. Global warming. At a time when most major issues are out of our control, Americans have focused on the pressing need for decluttering. If we cannot fix the world, at least we can bring some order to our own small parts of it.

It began back in 2014, with a manifesto by a professional organizer based in Japan—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”—and it has built to a cultural climax with the hit Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

And while, The Chicago Tribune reports, Marie Kondo’s minimalist manifesto is a phenomenon unto itself, with Twitter testimonials (#tidying, #konmari) and hundreds of YouTube videos, the author also has helped to espouse a broader societal cleaning spree: Your family, friends, and neighbors are accepting the 40 Bags in 40 Days (#40bagsin40days on Twitter) clutter-removal challenge—which runs from March 6 through April 20 this year.

They are listening to Graham Hill’s TED Talk (“Less Stuff, More Happiness,” with 4.4 million views and counting), posting photos of dumped junk on Instagram, and snapping up popular get-rid-of-it guides targeting minimalists (“The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay).

“The whole decluttering thing is a huge trend right now,” Kristin Collins, 40, of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Tribune. She has been on a self-described clutter reduction “bender” for the last few years. “It’s what everyone’s talking about.”

Collins, a communications professional who lives with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, told the news outlet that she doesn’t even have to purchase kid clutter; it comes to her. “Birthday parties (mean) piles of presents, and there’s treasure boxes at school, and they come home with all these cheap junky toys and goody bags, and then grandparents are shipping lots of cheap stuff from Walmart that breaks in the first two weeks and scatters on your floor. I feel like we’re at a point where it’s reaching a critical mass and people are just losing their minds

How did decluttering rise through the ranks of the American self-improvement agenda?

In a pioneering 2001-2005 University of California at Los Angeles study that sent researchers into the homes of 32 middle-class families to carefully chronicle their possessions, researchers found refrigerators covered with magnets, photos, calendars, memos, and kids’ art; common spaces full of toys; shelves stuffed to overflowing with DVDs, books; and mementos; and garages so full of boxes, bins and rejected furniture that there was no room left for cars.

The researchers began their report on “The Clutter Culture,” by describing the value system of the home owners: “Get stuff. Buy stuff. Get more of it. Keep that, too. Display it all, and proudly.”

“One thing that was really striking to everybody that worked on this study was just how much of a clutter crisis our families are facing right now,” Darby Saxbe, now a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, told the Chicago Tribune. “They were surrounded by stuff to the point where it seemed emotionally and physically stressful and taxing for them.”

Saxbe traces the clutter buildup, in part, to unprecedented access to deeply discounted consumer goods.

“We’ve got Walmart, where you can buy anything for $10, and we’ve become used to this very acquisitive style, where if you can’t find your stapler, you just go buy another stapler,” she said “I was just reading the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books with my daughter, and if they wanted a doll, for example, they had to make it, and it was incredibly labor-intensive.”

Ergo, the success of Kondo’s book, which was a best-seller in Japan and Germany before hitting the U.S. market. The book—which is part cleaning memoir, part decluttering how-to—centers on the author’s personal “revelation” that our possessions, themselves, create stress. As a young girl, she learned to cull them mercilessly, keeping only those things that brought her joy. She built a system of decluttering based on that insight, as well as a business.

In a true Kondo household, every object has its place and is returned to it religiously after it is used. Kondo makes the remarkable — and very seductive — claim that no one who has completed her private tidying course, which involves a one-time, full-home purge, has rebounded into disarray. No one.

“This whole Marie Kondo thing has changed my life,” Jamie Gutfreund, the global chief marketing officer at the global digital agency Wunderman, told the Tribune.”Everybody who knows me right now is so tired of me talking about it, because I feel so much better,” Gutfreund says. “I really feel so much better. I (used to) lose my glasses every day. The whole thing is, you have to respect your items, and you have to put them in the places where they’re supposed to go. So now I’m putting my glasses where they’re supposed to go, and I don’t lose them — funny! I probably gained 20 minutes a day.”

There’s also an emotional aspect to decluttering, and for some a spiritual one. Like meditation and yoga, decluttering appeals to overscheduled Americans seeking calm and focus, Gutfreund says.

And that’s the key to the decluttering revolution—that sense of calm and control within the turbulence that characterizes our current society.

“I am the opposite of a neat freak — I’ve always been a messy person,” Collins says. “But even I just feel a sense of calm when there’s not stuff piled in every corner of my house.”

Research contact: @Marie Kondo