Organizing Your Life

A place for everything and everything in its place

Getting organized is often on people’s list of New Year’s resolutions, but it tends to be easier said than done. Many find the advice given by organization guru Marie Kondo helpful. The author of the 2011 New York Times bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and a 2019 Netflix program called, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has a now-familiar mantra about decluttering your life. Hold it in your hands and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If not, time to find a new home for it.

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Everything has its place and purpose in the “KonMari” method. “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose,” Kondo writes. “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming, not for the person we were in the past.” Kondo advises following a specific order, decluttering first and then organizing what remains. 

She suggests starting with clothing and eliminating anything that doesn’t fit or went out of style. What you decide to keep should be folded and stacked vertically, according to Kondo, so you can see them all at a glance.

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Books and papers are next on her list. Unread books get musty sitting on a shelf in Hawaiʻi. Keep only those that you’re certain you’ll read or refer to. Gift or donate the rest. Most of the papers that you think you should keep belong in the trash can.You’ll never miss those old statements, bills, or receipts. 

Miscellaneous general clutter follows. Then she suggests attacking the kitchen, making sure every item has a place that makes sense and grouping like items together. 

Once the kitchen is in order, Kondo says to go through your decor—framed photos, paintings, artwork, knicknacks. Then do the same in the garage and bathroom that you did in the bedroom and kitchen. 

Save the sentimental items for last, because they are the most difficult to part with. Try not to let nostalgia cloud your judgment. And it’s best to do your purging alone, so that other people’s attachments won’t influence your decision-making. One exception: family photos. Having other folks around may help to identify who’s who in the pictures and which images might be of interest to other family members. 

Melani Ellis of Organize Your Life has some wise words for those who don’t want to get rid of things because they’re afraid they’ll go to waste. “It’s going to waste in your house, because nobody is using it,” she said. “If you pass it along, It’s going to get used.” 

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Professional organizer Brittany Smith of ZenSmith, LLC points out that things don’t last long here in the tropics. “A level of minimalism is almost required of all of us,” she said. If she wants to buy something new, she makes herself take something out of her closet and sell it or give it away. “Another thing about Maui is a lot of us have smaller spaces, so even those of us who love retail therapy have to have some discipline.”

It’s OK to give away gifts. No need to be attached to things we don’t use just because we love the folks who gave them to us. “When something is gifted to you, it’s yours to do whatever you want to do with it, so we should not feel guilty about regifting or repurposing it in some other way,” said Belia Paul of A Honu Space. 

All of the experts MauiTimes contacted agree that one common problem is duplicate items. Does anybody really need three potato peelers? If answering that question is difficult for you, or you feel overwhelmed, it might be time to hire a professional. Below are a few options here on Maui:

Belia Paul; (808) 357-4598;

Brittany Smith; (808) 250-6646; 

Melani Ellis; (808) 463-5533;

Gylian Solay; (808) 344-8068;

Dan Collins