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There are times when it’s natural to reflect. The anniversary of the pandemic is a new one for me, a chance to re-set and consider what is essential. I propose it is time for post-pandemic cleaning using the wisdom of Marie Kondo to clear the clutter. Let’s consider re-entry into 2021 using the life-changing magic of tidying up life.

Dude and I ventured out in the neighborhood recently to take advantage of warm weather and sunshine. The birds were singing like Springtime. After months of living indoors, it is a spacious feeling to be in nature again. This is how I want to describe my life, spacious. As stores and possibilities begin to open up, I am wrestling with myself to keep from suddenly doing “too much” like before the shut down. Whether you are reflecting on your life priorities, or desiring to spring clean your closets: This month’s focus is on decluttering Kondo style. Let the outline be your guide to lasting change in the (hopefully) post-pandemic world.

Being a naturally disorganized person, I am a forever student of organizing philosophies. Marie Kondo’s book the life-changing magic of tidying up has sold over 11 million copies in 40 languages. The popularity of her message suggests that I am not alone in needing organizational help. My personal hardcover is dog-eared from multiple re-reads. In the past I’ve chosen to “Kondo” like a semi-pro in my closets and drawers. But this month I hope to use my Kondo skills to re-enter the post-pandemic world mindfully.

Before You Start: Visualize Your Destination

Marie Kondo invites her clients and readers to imagine how they want to feel in the space that they are organizing. Visualizing helps to clarify the emotional goal. Since decluttering is an emotional process, knowing the endpoint is helpful. How do you want to feel about your lifestyle? For me, I want a spacious feeling. I hope to be in the present moment, one day at a time. In the course of a week, I want to be vibrant and positive in my work and rested and connected at home.

Finish Discarding First

The pandemic effectively purged my 2020 calendar. So if you are joining me in tidying your lifestyle, it will be helpful to have your 2019 planner available. My 2019 passion planner is overflowing. Some days were scheduled to the point where I even added sticky notes! There was nothing spacious about my pre-pandemic lifestyle. Close examination reveals an abundance of activity, most of it loosely (and randomly) connected to work. The year 2019 was a series of long days, with “retreats” on the weekend to socialize with friends and family. Quarantine allowed me to discard many activities and routines without a second thought. The alone time gave me the opportunity to consider how much time I wanted scheduled (and unscheduled) for myself. I am grateful for the time to reflect then, and now.

Tidying Up by Category Works Like Magic

In this phase of decluttering, Kondo encourages us to consider categories of “stuff.” Sorting “stuff” by categories makes it easier to notice which areas have too much, too little, and sometimes what is missing altogether. Several years ago when I sorted my clothing I was embarrassed by excess. Sorting helped me realize that although blue is my favorite color, the only blue in my closet was jeans.

The category I want to organize is activity. When I study the activities in my 2019 passion planner, I am delighted with my therapy hours and how I use my office time. However, my speaking schedule needs significant trimming. My self-care categories paid the price for my abundance of outreach activities. The balance of work to personal care was off, which is what created the long days. I was chronically running behind, even with activities that I enjoyed.

The Kondo method reminds me to focus on what I want to keep. What brings me joy? What gives me energy?

Some of my activities, as Marie Kondo would say “have served their purpose.” Deep bow to the excess clutter of random, meaningless busyness. What remains is meaningful. This is how tidying up feels like magic.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Marie kondo

Storing Your Things to Make Your Life Shine

Utilizing my 2021 passion planner, I am ready to plug in my daily activities. Through the Konmari method I have tidied up my day to day life to the essentials. These are the activities that make my heart sing. My planner can now safely store my new schedule without sticky notes. THAT feels spacious.

It is reasonable that our lives now should look different than what they looked like before the pandemic. We have all been through so much. One of my treasured speaking engagements that “made the cut” is the OWFI writer’s conference. Maybe you will consider attending as I this year. In addition to a host of wonderful speakers, I am teaming up with colleague Charles Gosset to present a “Mini Mindfulness Retreat” for writers. In addition to the concepts of mindfulness, taming the inner critic, and self-care, we will focus on “creating space” for writing using the Kondo method.

I am energized to have a spacious schedule. Let me know how Kondo is working magic in your post-pandemic life.

Health & Happiness,

Dr. Lisa Marotta