The Netflix hit “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has “sparked joy” around the idea of decluttering. But Kondo’s approach is not the only way.

Ray Sidney-Smith and I discussed two approaches on “Productivity Book Group.” One episode reviews Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White. The other reviews The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life

If you have 5 minutes, you can declutter.

That’s the biggest take-away for me from this excellent read. The process is simple. Arm yourself with a container for things to trash and a container for things to donate. Start any place you like and spent as much or as little time as desired in any session. Put anything that needs to “go” in either the trash or donation container. If something needs to stay but belongs somewhere else in the house, take it to its proper location.

I like this approach because you don’t have to make a mess to clean up the mess. You’re not scattering all sorts of items across the floor only to find you have to leave it there because you have run out of time.

Make it fit.

The principle is the same whether you’re talking about the kitchen cupboard, the bedroom closet, or the hallway bookcase. How much will “fit” determines how much you can keep. When the number of books exceeds the number the bookcase will hold, it’s time to make decisions about what books stay and what books go. Ditto for the clothes in the closet.

I had a hard time with the suggestion for the kitchen cupboard: Don’t nest the containers. White argues for storing all empty containers with their lids on. Of course, that means fewer containers fit into the cabinets. At the same time, how much time do you spend trying to match lids with bowls?

Sentimental things are a challenge.

It’s hard to discard something that belonged to a parent or grandparent who is no longer with us. China you’ll never use and model trains you’ll never run hog desperately-needed space. White suggests keeping a sample. For example, could you keep one plate to display on the mantle where everyone can see it and donate the rest?

Click the image to listen to the episode on Productivity Book Group.



The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Dana White teaches you to start anywhere and declutter as you have time. Five minutes here and ten minutes there is fine. For Marie Kondo, decluttering is an event. Kondo talks about finishing all discarding throughout the house first.

Second, Kondo recommends decluttering by category rather than location. Instead of decluttering the coat closet, Kondo would have us pull all clothing from all parts of the house. When decluttering books, find all books throughout the house and spread them on the floor.

This approach sounds great when one has a large amount of time to devote to decluttering. The process involves making a bigger mess before cleaning up the mess. What happens when time runs out on today’s decluttering session? A half-finished job results in a floor full of books or clothing. Life happens, and the next thing you know, you’re stepping over a mess until another decluttering session can resume.

Here is the episode where Ray and I discuss the book:

The Bottom Line

People often equate “decluttering” with “throwing all my stuff away.” We hate to part with possessions. But, when clutter reigns, you can’t find what you need. And if you can’t find it, you might as well not have it.

You may like the Dana White approach. You may prefer Marie Kondo’s method. Maybe you have some other idea in mind. In any case, it’s time to get organized.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably also like my post called “A Simple Hack to Clear the Clutter.”