Thanks to the popularity of the Netflix series “Tidying Up”, Marie Kondo is now (once again after the hype that followed her global book publishing) a household name, and “sparking joy” is literally a million-dollar phrase now.

On my facebook wall I even came across a former client who is excited now to “Marie-Kondo” her space even when it comes to her office, a space she’s been reluctant to truly declutter and clear before.

My former client is in good company. Thrift stores and donation bins are filling up with discarded items inspired by the 34-year-old guru’s credo. Millions of her viewers are now adopting the KonMari method and collectively thanking their clothes before sending them off for a second chance of life

Author and series host Marie Kondo has started a worldwide obsession with her KonMarie method of tidying up (Photo: Getty Images)

Life-changing magic? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean Kondo, with all her rituals and her cheery, warm disposition, is your only hope for combating the clutter in your home.

Yes. Marie Kondo raised awareness on clutter and what clutter can be and do to your life in a number globally that has not been there before (her book was sold over 7 Million time globally up to today.). I’m forever grateful for her for that.

Yes, the way she foldes clothes efficiently into drawers and shelves adapted to small spaces is a game-changer. The rebel I am, I took the freedom and change it to make it fit the space.

Take me, Konnie Labecki. I’ve been helping people organize their homes, offices and overall lives for most of my life. A finance geek by trade, I became a certified professional organizer about four years ago, shortly  after moving to Paris from Germany and the U.S.

I’m seriously impressed and up-lifted by the recent worldwide obsession with Kondo, who believes decluttering is all about honoring and respecting items before discarding them (stems from the Japanese culture and Buddhism), and who divides tasks by category rather than by room. But, there’s much I find “hokey” about the bestselling author’s methods.

I will never tell my client to “thank” an item for its service or if it “sparks joy” – that’s just too hokey for me.

Instead I will ask my clients if the item they want to keep is useful to them and how they see themselves using it. I ask them, if they like or love the item. Once they are able to verbalize if the item has a purpose or not, together we’ll make sure that it is put in its proper place, or we’ll donate that item  or find someone who will find use for it.

Sometimes you just to organize your ‘extras’

Also my clients differ widely from Kondo’s and live all over the globe, so I can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to help them. I believe we are individuals, with individual values, likes, dislikes, internal patterns, filters and require a unique tailored way to declutter and to set up organizing systems that fit us and our lifestyle. No one is like us. You, my reader friend, are unique. Embrace it.

Some of my clients need a more fun approach, some more serious, some more intense coaching. I work with clients of different ages and each stage of life and age requires a different approach.

For example, a busy mom of small children with a business needs a different approach then an entrepreneurial Mom who wants to downsize, because her children took off for college.

In my experience, however, one thing remains consistent: organizing by room, rather than by category, is always more effective. Yes, I’ll let the client gather all her clothes in the house, when we work on the wardrobe. The focus is to declutter ALL of the clothing, before we can set up organizing and folding systems fitting the space and items left. Key is clearing and organizing the bedroom (in Europe), or the dressing room (in the U.S. or Asia).

This way, it is easier to see more immediate and smaller successes and the process is less overwhelming for the client.

And while my Simply Organized With Konnie approach focuses on the individual, I let my clients in a few gems as a kick-starter.

BEDROOMS are for sleep, relaxing and sex.

For EVERY THING you buy new, minimum an old (or in extreme cases two old) items need to go first.

Even small children enjoy having a clean space and are absolutely capable of cleaning up their rooms on their own.

Growing up in small household – I am a single child – it was easy to find my “zen” as my mother was almost obsessed with cleaning and having a home for everything. Plus growing up in the east, former socialist part of Germany, you did not have easy access to things. So you kept what you had in good shape as long as you could and made the most with what you had (strengthens your sense of creativity). I always kept my room neat and organized. Except when I was in puperty (those teenage rages), lived in my own space (really, do I have to do all that?) or studied and worked at the same time fully (I literally had not time at my hands and existed in constant overwhelm). I always bounced back and quickly had my space in neat and organized shape. I rearrange constantly and get rid of items that no longer suit me.

However, I understand really well the difficulty people have with letting go of items, even if they’re causing clutter and disorder in their homes and offices.

People hold on to things for THREE reasons:

  1. They paid money for it
  2. It serves a real purpose
  3. It’s sentimental.

If an item is kept just because money was spent on it, I encourage my clients to donate the item to people who really need it and help them move past the monetary side of the issue. Sometimes that even helps them make more conscious choices and curb spending in the future.

If people hold on for sentimental reasons, we need to talk about that item, its value, real sentiment and make a decision based not only on emotion but moreover on reality. Is there space for the item? What is the value, monetary and emotional? And realistically, how many of these types of items are we talking about?

As daunting as some my projects are for my clients, I keep one thing top of my mind when working with clients: People are busy and don’t have time for details. I am good with space and how to best use it, and so some times I will rearrange an entire space so that my client appreciates their space and items even more

Sometimes I rearrange an entire space so that my client appreciates their space and items even more

Overall though, its not about folding methods, or drawer dividers. To me decluttering and organizing is about creating space, organizing minds and lifes, not homes and offices. Visualize the type of life you want and environment you want to live in. It’s not about enough items or money. It’s about valueing what you do have, keeping it in order and using that freedom, energy and time to take one step at a time to create that life you really want to live and are on fire on. That’s the only lasting way to Thrive.Shine.Matter in your life, in your bubble – no matter how small or global it may be.

With Love and Light,

Konnie