KonMari: A Simple Way to Organize with Shoeboxes

Organizing my home is not often my strong suit.

I can organize thoughts and information like a boss, but I’d rather spend my energy writing or spending time with my husband and friends than reconfiguring my small space. Like most creatives, I work most efficiently under deadline, so that means my home is at its cleanest when the pressure is on: my weekly Dinner Group is coming over or company is coming to stay.

After a recent social media onslaught of praise for the book, I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. At first, I was skeptical. I have read plenty of articles about how to pare down my wardrobe and create systems to clean my apartment. But even though I have consumed a ton of information on the subject, I just have not found a way to consistently keep my apartment clean for more than a few days. I have tried to embrace the idea that creative life is just messy. But then I find myself procrastinating the thing I want to do most (write) in favor of putting my space back in order.

The KonMari method developed by Kondo operates under the assumption that you have to start with eliminating excess first. While this is common sense, it can be a significant challenge for more sentimental people (like me) to do. What counts as excess? Kondo tells us to make our decision by trusting our gut. Pick up each object and ask the question, “Does this spark joy?”

If the answer is no, it is to be discarded or donated. Kondo has a specific order in which you should walk through the process: least sentimental (clothes) to most sentimental (notes and photographs). For a more detailed explanation, watch this video.

As a creative who can be often scatterbrained, I LOVE that Kondo provides a specific step-by-step process to follow in order to tidy your entire home. However, I also recognize as an ENFP personality type, I can usually be most effective and focused when following a wave of inspiration. So I am embracing my quirks and starting the process the wrong way… with shoeboxes.

Recently I read this tip: “Shoeboxes have infinite uses. I commonly use them to store socks and stockings in drawers. Shoebox height is perfect for standing up rolled stockings. In the washroom, they can be used to store bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc., and they’re also perfect for holding detergents and other household cleaning items. In the kitchen, they can be used to stock foodstuffs as well as garbage bags, cloths, and so on.”

I knew for sure I had at least two empty shoeboxes in my closet as well as a few ideal-sized Amazon prime boxes and I promptly went to find them. In a short period of time, I had cleared out the jumble of stuff from underneath my bathroom and kitchen sinks, deep-cleaned each space, used up cleaning products on their last legs and categorized the products in each box by type and frequency of use:

Kitchen Sink cabinet contents – Top left: detergent stock and rarely used cleaning supplies. Top right: regular cleaning supplies. Bottom left: Sponges, dishwasher detergent. Bottom right: Trash bags and floor cleaning wipes.
Kitchen sink cabinet organized. Back left: rarely used cleaning supplies. Right side: Frequent and every day cleaning supplies. Middle: Dishwasher detergent and sponges. Not pictured: Trash can that sits in the left front, daily dish detergent in the front right.
Bathroom sink cabinet contents – Top left: occasional use and personal care. Top right: rarely used jewelry and leather cleaner. Middle: Febreze. Bottom left: Frequently used personal care items. Bottom Left: Frequently used cleaning supplies and handsoap.
Bathroom sink cabinet organized – Back left: occasional use and personal care. Back right: rarely used jewelry and leather cleaner. Middle: Febreze. Front left: Frequently used personal care items. Front right: Frequently used cleaning supplies and handsoap.

As silly and simple as it seems, over the past month this shoebox trick has already been a huge time-saver when looking for a specific item because I can simply pull each box out without knocking things over. I am also delighted all over again when I open my cabinet door and I see everything perfectly organized. Now I just have to start ruthlessly tackling my closet – eek!

What tips and tricks do you have for getting and staying organized?

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