Are you drowning in clutter? Is stuff ruling your life? Have you heard of KonMari and wondered if it could help you finally get your life and home under control?
If you need to know how to declutter your life, stay tuned because that’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode with Ashley Barber.
As Houston’s first certified KonMari Consultant, an Approved KonMari Inc. Speaker, legacy lululemon ambassador, and Simply Maven Founder, Ashley Barber is on a mission to empower others to cultivate a life of joy and ease through tidying. She combines her organizational skills with over a decade of group fitness instruction experience, a philosophy degree, an eye for design, and a passion for physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. Whether through speaking, 1-on-1 coaching, or online courses, she and Simply Maven co-owner Jane McCullough live to guide their clients — from busy moms to professionals – to create the space they need to pursue their passions and live their lives to the fullest.
Are You Wearing Too Many Hats?
Ashley says she was always very focused on doing things well. Even as a child, she was a straight-A student and she enjoyed the feeling of success that having things in order gave her.
But underneath all the outer order was a rocky mental side, and that rockiness was growing.
Ashley liked the way being organized helped her to achieve her goals. As an adult, she joined the fitness industry and found fitness to be another way to boost her mental health. Staying fit also helped her to continue to achieve goals and be more successful.
But as her career grew and she stepped into new roles in her life, like a fulfilling career and motherhood, she began to feel more out of control.
She was wearing several different hats and it was a lot to juggle. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Around this time, a friend gave Ashley the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, because she knew that Ashley loved organizing. And because of Ashley’s desire for better overall life balance, the book and the method resonated deeply with her.
She dove into the system head first and fell in love.
She had always known that her environment played a huge role in the mingling of her mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. (That’s true for all of us, by the way.)
KonMari is about more than organizing your things. It’s asking the question, “Why do I want to organize my things? What is this all about?”
For Ashley, it was about prioritizing what was essential in her life, and now, she helps others to do the same.
Ashley loved helping people find better health through physical fitness and this feels to her like going to the next layer. She is empowering people to look at their things and discover what they’re being called to, and what they can let go of.
It’s not simply about how to declutter your life; it’s about how to build a life of meaning and purpose.
What Is KonMari?
In case you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it’s a means of getting your life and possessions in order.
The system was created by Marie Kondo, who has spent the past 16 years helping people organize and declutter their lives. She began with the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which has sold millions of copies and has helped even more millions of people finally figure out how to declutter their lives.
KonMari is a method of examining your possessions by asking the question, “Does this spark joy?”
It’s looking at your stuff and asking if those things are moving you toward a specific path in life, moving you away from it, or just being an overall distraction.
The KonMari Method
The actual KonMari method involves sorting your possessions by category. So, for example, all your clothes, then all your books, and so on.
And for each item, you ask a question.
For clothes, it might be, “Does this fit?” And if not, out it goes. But if it does fit, you ask a second question, “Does it spark joy?” And again, if that answer is no, you get rid of it.
When the pandemic started, I decided that it would be a great time to read the book and teach my kids the method and see if we could get our own home a little bit more under control.
We watched YouTube videos on Marie Kondo’s specific methods for folding clothes.
And I’ll be honest, after we got done, I figured the kids would bail on the system sooner rather than later. To my surprise, they’re still going with it!
Quick Fix or Deep Work?
A person could learn the folding methods that Marie Kondo offers and could go through some of their things, and they would probably notice that their lives are a bit easier.
But to see real change, digging deeper is the only way.
We all seem to want the quick fix on stuff like this. But to get the long-lasting results and the true life change, you need more buy-in. You need to really know why you want to do this method.
KonMari explores motivation, and without motivation, neither adults nor children will be able to maintain any systems they set up.
Clutter Is More than What You See
As I work with women who are seeking to lose weight or get their physical health under control, I see that their entire lives are filled with clutter.
The house is cluttered, the schedule is cluttered, the kids are involved in dozens of activities. And there truly is no space for that woman to create something for herself.
Clutter is more than closets that are overflowing with stuff.
Ashley defines clutter as anything that gets in the way of you achieving your full potential. It’s also anything that stands in the way of your authentic happiness or the joy of being you.
It’s important to understand that there is a hierarchy of what’s easiest to let go of.
So, you can imagine that it’s easier to give away a shirt that no longer fits than it is to take something off the calendar that you’ve been committed to but that drains your energy.
Listening to Your Inner Voice
The reason for the question, “Does it spark joy?” is to learn to listen to that inner voice that tells you who you really are and what you need to become your true, authentic self.
The KonMari method begins with those items that are easy to clear out, like clothing and books.
And then it moves deeper, into commitments and relationships. Once you acknowledge your inner voice about things like papers, you start to be empowered to acknowledge it around other things, too.
If you can get rid of a blouse that you bought just because some women’s magazine told you to, you can also say, “No, I don’t want to go to dinner. I want to stay at home tonight.”
Acknowledging your inner voice gives you the power to say no to things that don’t bring you joy but that you always felt like you should say yes to. It’s being more honest with yourself, and eventually with others, about what your true motivations are.
How to Declutter Your Life
Everyone lives in a different situation so everyone will go on a unique journey when they make a decision to declutter their lives.
First of all, your time is something only you know.
So, if you have the gift of being able to block out an entire weekend to go through the whole house declutter, do it. This is truly the fastest and most efficient way to get it done.
But most of us, (I see you, working moms!) can’t do it that way and we need to time block to get it done.
If you need help getting started in smaller chunks of time, head over to Ashley’s website and sign up for her email list. When you do, she will send you a free download of things you can begin to declutter in 10 minutes or less.
Or, if you need a bit more hand-holding, she has a course called Closet Detox that walks you step-by-step through organizing your closet.
Ashley also shared a couple of tips with us to help you get started.
- Figure out why you want to declutter.
- Create a vision for your perfect environment.
- Start with step one using Ashley’s free download.
Start by getting clarity on why you feel the need to declutter your life, think about how you want your house or your life (or just your closet) to look after you declutter, and then take the first step.
And isn’t that the way we begin most everything in life? We have to figure out why we want to do it, decide what exactly we’re after, and find out what the first step is.
There may be many layers of this onion that you have to peel back before you get to all the root causes. If you don’t know where to start, I am here to help.
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