Preparation - The First Step on your Tidying Journey

It’s almost the end of the year, which for lots of people means setting New Year’s goals. If getting your home organized once and for all is a goal for you, I want to give you some tips so you’ll get started on the right foot.

I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, soon after it came out in 2014. Sure, I was interested in her story and how she developed her tidying method, but honestly, I just wanted to jump in and start decluttering and folding things right away.

I’m kind of impulsive and if I can do a project in three easy steps, I’m all for it. I’ll read a book about how to do something and optimistically think I can master it immediately. At one time, we were thinking of designing and building a home. I bought a $10 home design computer program from Staples, and my oldest daughter Kelsey and I got to work, sure we could get a whole house designed in an evening. We were shocked and frustrated that we ended up with staircases on outside walls, no bathrooms, and rooms with no doors. My other daughter, Carly, said, “You know, people go to college to learn how to do that. I don’t know why you think you should be able to do it after 30 minutes of practice.” Needless to say, we didn’t end up building our own house.

I don’t like sanding before painting. I don’t watch a ton of youtube videos or do hours of research before I start a project. I think if you try to have everything perfectly planned out before you start, you’ll never start, and that jumping in and giving something a go is usually a great idea. Our motto when we remodeled our first house was that we’d try do everything ourselves, then call in a pro if we messed it up.


Thankfully, my husband does think things through. That kept me from buying a carload of blocks from Home Depot to build a 100 foot retaining wall one afternoon. Never did get that thing built, but buying 15 blocks when it would have probably taken 500 wasn’t my best plan ever. He is also the one who patiently sands and masks before painting. I only paint when he’s not home so he doesn’t see me not doing the prep work.

In case you’re a little impulsive too, I really hope you’ll slow down for a minute and think through why you want to tidy your home, and what you want it to be like when you’re done-because it will get tough at times. It’s called a tidying marathon for a reason. Sorting through papers and sentimental items can be a struggle, so knowing why you’re decluttering in the first place and having a vision of what you’re striving for will keep you motivated.

Marie Kondo suggests the following:

Think about what kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it. In other words, describe your ideal lifestyle. If you like drawing, sketch out what it looks like. If you prefer to write, describe it in a notebook. You can also cut out photos from magazines.

When you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy and identifying the kind of life you want to live once you have finished. The tidying process thus represents a huge turning point in a person’s life. So seriously consider the ideal lifestyle to which you aspire.

The first thing I do when I go to a new clients’ home is sit them down and talk about why they called me. I already have a general idea, since I do a 30 minute phone consultation before I meet them, but this is the time we really dig deeper to define their goals for their home and life. Here are 3 ideas you might find helpful.

1. Scour Pinterest

The 6 words my husband dreads most are: “Look what I saw on Pinterest.”

But Pinterest can be a great tool to use when you’re trying to define your aesthetic. When we moved into our home, my daughters encouraged me to pick a color palette for decorating after I brought home yet another throw pillow that didn’t go with anything. Kelsey made a Pinterest account for me, sat me down, and said, “Save everything you like.” When we looked back at the collection of homes I liked, they were almost identical. All of them had white walls, light wood floors, gray or blue accents, and lots of natural fibers. Since then, it’s been much easier for me to make wise purchases. And not make unwise ones. Using Pinterest really helped me clarify what I want my home to look like.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out our page for some inspiration.

2. Choose key words

Thinking about the atmosphere you want in your home by focusing on a few key words is another great way to keep you on track. We wanted our home to be comfy and clean. We are big proponents of hospitality, and have people in our home every week. We want them to feel like they can put their feet on the couch and help themselves to anything in our kitchen. We also want to be able to get our house clean quickly, so we make decorating and remodeling decisions based on that.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo tells this story:

One client in her twenties defined her dream as “a more feminine lifestyle.” … “When I come home from work, the floor would be clear of clutter...and my room, as tidy as a hotel suite with nothing obstructing the line of sight. I’d have a pink bedspread and a white antique-style lamp. Before going to bed, I would have a bath, burn aromatherapy oils and listen to classical piano or violin while doing yoga and drinking herbal tea. I would fall asleep with a feeling of unhurried spaciousness.”

She not only thought about a key word to describe what she wanted to achieve, she thought about her ideal day, which can also be very helpful (and leads nicely into the next tip).

3. Think about an ideal day

When I talked with one of my clients about her ideal day, said she wanted to be able to sit down at the end of the day with her house tidy and clean. No unfinished projects would be in sight,  she could enjoy a cup of tea and a read a book. When her home was untidy and cluttered, she couldn’t relax. When it came time to go through the category she dreaded most, papers, which were in stored in baskets and folders all through the house, she reminded herself that getting it all sorted and filed away out of sight would make it easier for her to be able to relax at the end of the day.

Whatever your reason for starting your tidying marathon, try to keep your ideal lifestyle in mind. It’ll give you the motivation to keep going. And if you need someone to help you on your journey, give us a call. We love going along for the ride!

Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant