An Unexpected Key to Organization

My mom will confirm that starting in grade school, I was a complete neat freak. I kept my side of the room that I shared with my sister totally tidy all of the time, and made my bed every morning to complete the job.

But before I was a second grader with a fully organized half of the closet (my sister was a certifiable ‘stuffer’ until high school, so hers was jam-packed with clothes and clutter)… I was a pack rat. My mom can again confirm that before going to the grocery store I used to pack a whole kiddie backpack full of toys and other knick-knacks, “just in case” I might need them or get bored.

These days, I am fairly organized, but I still hold onto plenty of clothes and other items that I do not need. Even still, I go through bouts a couple of times each year when I purge the stuff I don’t wear, and donate the decorative items that no longer compliment my style and appliances that I haven’t used in months or more. 

I feel so good after one of these purges!

My closet, pre-purge.
My closet, pre-purge.

And yet, my closets still resemble a well-constructed Tetris® puzzle above with racks over-crammed with clothes below, my kitchen cabinets remain stacked with dishes, and my living space continues to feel a bit too busy and cluttered. 

Does all of it – each and every item – spark joy in my heart? Um, no. (That’s the signature question Marie Kondo asks her clients and readers in her global best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.)

It’s a really good question, and a totally unanticipated key to organization! 

Just hearing it in the context of de-cluttering made me think of some specific items that I can recycle or set aside to donate as soon as I get home: that stack of Vanity Fair magazines from the past year that I will read… eventually (not), at least three of the six flower vases in my cupboard, those two pairs of jeans I’ve been holding onto for the day I lose 15 lbs. and can fit into them again…

I’m getting excited about this already! 

After the purge! It’s hard to see the effect (my closet is pretty tiny as it is), but I am donating 2 garbage bags and one full 2x2x2 box full of stuff, as well as throwing away an additional full garbage bag from this effort! Now for the other closet…

What a way to radically simplify one’s life – removing all of those things that make it frustrating or a hassle just to live. I’m envisioning a day where I can choose my daily wardrobe without fighting the crammed closet, retrieve the Crock Pot® for a simple slow-cooker meal without playing musical chairs with the stuff in my cupboard, and read a book without feeling oppressed by the clutter around the room.

Nice and simple – to be surrounded by only those things that actually spark joy.

I have yet to read Kondo’s book, but apparently, hers is just one of the trending books about de-cluttering and organization that are here and still coming. In the meantime, I think I’ll head home and do some of the most expunging spring cleaning I’ve ever done, all by asking the question, “Does this spark joy for me?”


  1. It does feel great. We’ve had 2 major yard sales and will probably have one more by end of summer. I can hardly wait to see just how much I can get rid of. It’s rather adicting:) in a good way.

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