I am an inherently messy person. I didn’t grow up learning the basics of tidying. What’s common sense and old habits for most people is a learned skill for me; skills that I had to learn in my mid 20s when I moved abroad. It was a sudden realization that clothes don’t automatically get neatly folded and put into drawers. I was drowning in piled laundry, lidless jars, and 500 piles of unstapled notes. It may sound an exaggeration but my tidying skills were worse than a 2 year old because it was nonexistent. The weekend before any major paper was due I would tidy up my whole room and clean everything. It stayed tidy for barely 2 days.
You know the superhit bollywood movie “Wake Up Sid” where this spoilt college boy moves out of his rich parents house, starts living with his friend and soon learns the basics of housekeeping, cooking, even finds a job that eventually leads him to find his passion? Yeah, my case didn’t turn out like that. It was in a perpetual state of struggle when it came to keeping a tidy house. My partner, unlike most South Asian men has Martha Stewart level of housekeeping skills. And I still made enough mess for the 2 of us. He was constantly tidying up after me but it was still stressful for both of us. I hated the mess too, but I didn’t know how to do things any other way. I read countless articles and created myriad systems that failed. But slowly, with patience and perseverance I came up with systems that work. After struggling for years I have come up with systems that work for my family. I am still learning and I have a lot of room for improvement but I am definitely much better.
Before I share my tips I need to state that I follow the KonMari method. In my case, nothing other than the KonMari method has worked. If you don’t know what that is here the shortest summary: KonMari method is a Japanese method of tidying up invented by Marie Kondo where you only keep the things that “spark joy” for you and discard the rest. Yes, I follow the KonMari method AND I have 86 pairs of shoes. It’s a myth that you can only keep a certain number of things in each category if you follow the method.
- Create a system: Before you start making an organizational system I strongly suggest you do your research. If you are not living under a rock the work “KonMari” has appeared on your newsfeed at least once and I can vouch for that system. Most people who hate the KonMari method haven’t read any of Marie Kondo’s books. I also religiously follow Leo Babauta’s blog “Zen Habits” (www.zenhabits.net) which has immensely helped me in improving my habits. I follow the cleaning schedule by Clean Mama’s cleaning schedule ( http://www.cleanmama.net) and for my daily dose of tidying inspiration I follow KonMari certified professional organizer Ivanka Siolkowsky (https://www.tidymoose.com) on Instagram.
- Make it easy: My fellow lazy comrades, if it’s not easy, you won’t do it. I have an “organization” board on my pinterest for inspiration and none of my rooms look like that. The goal is to create a system that is easy to follow. You really don’t need 50 mason jars and open shelves for a kitchen that’s truly functional.
- Put everything back to its place: My previous systems never worked because I never put things back in its designated place. The problem: most things didn’t have a designated place. When you designate a place make sure it’s idiot proof. For example: put cereal box in the cupboard didn’t work for me. But, put the cereal box in the right most corner of the second shelf worked like a charm. Well, at least on most days. Remember what my friend Ankit told me when I asked for advice on getting my place in order: “Jage pe rakhiyo” (put everything back in its place).
- Break it down to the simplest actionable items: If you are a naturally messy and lazy person like me, break it down to the simplest, most basic action. I write everything down on paper or on my phone’s notepad. I am absolutely horrible with time management so breaking it down to the simplest actionable items is the only way I can get something done.
- Tweak your system: Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Remember that a bigger place doesn’t make it easier to tidy. More space for your stuff doesn’t mean less clutter. By trying something new I do NOT mean buying closets or organizers. Believe me I tried them all. Try getting rid of things that you don’t use regularly, donate, and change up folding style. Incorporate what works for you. Read and educate yourself, follow organizational accounts on instagram. You never know what tip you get from a stranger!