Home Organization

Decluttering Your Home In 5 Easy Japanese Steps

Decluttering Your Home in 5 Easy Japanese Steps is based on the concept of the 5S System which originated in Japan.  It’s a system that consists of 5 steps namely Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. Sorting is a method of removing the unnecessary items from overcrowded areas or spaces to make room for things that matter to you. This is also known as Decluttering.

Decluttering is the first and most important step in the home organizing process no matter if it’s a closet, a pantry, a bedroom or the entire house.  It is a step that you cannot skip if you want to have a sustainable organization solution.

Do you know that there are 3 different classes to describe your living situation with your loved ones that will tell if your home needs decluttering? Are you ready to know which class you are?

  • 3rd CLASS – your garage is full of boxes, all floor spaces are cluttered, all cabinets are full of stuff and the only solution you have in mind is to move to a bigger house
  • 2nd CLASS – your drawer and cabinets will not close and you have accumulated things that you have not used for a long long time because you think you might need it someday.
  • 1st CLASS – your house makes you feel relaxed and safe because everything is in its place and clean.

If your answer is 3rd class or 2nd class, then it’s a sign that you need to declutter your home. Having a bigger place, bigger kitchen, or a bigger storage area is not a solution to your clutter problem.  Keeping things that you have not used for a long time because you believe you might need them is a recipe towards accumulating more and more stuff. This decluttering method will help you to know what items to keep and what items to let go. Letting go of the things that you no longer need is the key to having a place for your essentials things and putting your house in order once again.

Putting your house in order will have a dramatic positive outcome on your life. It will definitely help you to change your way of doing things and create a different perspective in life. An orderly home will give you peace of mind, whether you want to admit it or not, which will lead you to being a more productive and happier person.

Organizing is not a complicated process, it is actually a very simple process that even kids can learn. However, there many people that do not like the idea of the work involved in “PUTTING THINGS IN ORDER” and yet like the idea of having an orderly home.

The work involved should be minimal if you make tidying a regular habit. However, if you keep procrastinating on the work of putting things in order, within a short period of time, the minimal work involved  becomes a huge task.  A cluttered home is actually a battle of the mind, it is caused by lack of determination and lack of discipline on your end. You will gain strong determination to continue the work to get and stay organized if you start seeing the immediate improvements from what you have done. Just organizing a little at a time is a recipe for failure because you will not be able to see the immediate results of your labor. It is recommended to take a small project, like your clothes, that you can finish within a short of period of time. Seeing at an instant the fruit of your labor will empower you to keep doing what you have started until it becomes a habit which is also known as discipline.

4 Decluttering Mistakes 101

1. Taking Short Cuts

  • People are always drawn to take the shortest possible way to get things done. They feel the shorter the better! After looking at beautiful photos of fully organized homes, you got motivated to get rid of your clutter. You grab all the boxes that you can get and put everything you see inside the box and voila, you have a clutter free house in an instant. This is not the “instant result” that I am referring to from my previous statement. Decluttering is a process, meaning there are systematic steps that you need to follow, it’s not just putting everything inside a box.  Putting your clutter inside a box is the wrong way of doing things, you are merely hiding your clutter and not doing anything to solve your clutter problem.
  • If you take this short cut, you will revert back to clutter after a few days because a need will arise to use a particular item but you can’t remember what box you put that item in. Then you start opening all the boxes and pulling everything out again until you find that item. This leads you again to have stuff scattered everywhere and at the same time, the whole process will completely frustrate you and cause you to go back to your old ways.

2. No Careful Planning

  • Putting things neatly behind the cabinet or behind doors will definitely give an organized appearance. People often confuse “neat” for “organized”. Your things may be neatly arranged but this does not necessarily mean they’re organized. If you arrange things only on the basis of adding esthetic appearance or making things look clean then, you are missing the meaning of organizing.
  • Organizing is designating a group of items (it could be on basis of function or usefulness) to a specific location preferably as close as possible to where you usually use them.  It is a process of arranging your essentials to make your everyday living easier and not to make your life more difficult. For example, decanting is a big thing in the world of organizing because putting every day pantry supplies into uniform containers or coordinated jars would definitely improve the esthetic look of your pantry. However, if you are just starting your organizing journey or you know that your natural tendency is to be lazy, then decanting may not be for you at this moment because it’s a time consuming process and most of the time can overwhelm you. Remember,  organizing is a process of making your life easier and esthetic improvement and clean appearance are just the result of being organized. See my article about decanting, Size of Pantry Container Matters.

3. Lead by Emotions –

  • Decluttering should never be led by emotions because our heart is deceitful. We often times hold on to things because of their sentimental value and because we think it might be useful someday.  Decluttering is about letting go of all the things that you have not used for a long time, the things that are just accumulating dust and occupying spaces.  I am probably contradicting the advice given by Marie Kondo the famous author of The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Her advice is to hold on to things that make you smile or fill you with some sort of happiness (this is one part of her teaching that I do not fully agree). However, for me, it does not matter if the item gives joy. What matters is if that item makes your life easier. Let’s say that an item gives you joy, you will probably put that item in a good spot in your house to see the item everyday. If that is the case, that item really deserves a precious spot in your house. However, if you put that item inside a box or in a hidden part of your closet, then that is an indication that you need to let go of that item even if “that item gives you joy”.
  • Remember, holding on to things like boxes of memories from childhood, never used gifts from loved ones, or other keepsakes can lead to extra dusting time and makes your house look messy. A messy house will give you constant stress. So you need to pick and choose between holding on to things that give you stress or letting go of these things. This will give you a chance to have a stress free life.

4. Seeing Home Storage Organization Products as a Solution –

  • For many, buying a bunch of organizing products is their solution for being disorganized. Unfortunately, this is not true at all. Home Storage Organization Products are just a tool that will help you to achieve your organization goal. Putting things inside a storage container is not going to solve your clutter problem. Sometimes, if you buy a storage organizing product that does not match with your storage needs, the storage organizing products will become part of  your clutter problem.
  • Careful planning of what item to put where is needed in order for you to have an organized space.

5 Easy Japanese Steps to Declutter

These are the 5 Decluttering Steps that will help you to start your organizing journey. It is a process to help you determine what to keep and what not keep and how to go about it.

Decluttering 101 in 5 Easy Japanese Step

  1. Remove Everything Out of the cabinet or shelf of the area or room that you would like to organize. Put everything you have taken out of the cabinet in one area.  Why is this necessary? This process will give you a realization of the amount of stuff you have accumulated over time and how much stuff you have not used for a long long time.Decluttering 101 in 5 Easy Japanese Step
  2. Sorting your Belongings into 3 categories:
    • TO KEEP/NECESSARY – Items that you use almost everyday and things that are essential to fulfill your daily tasks. These are the items that deserve a particular space in your home.
    • DON’T KEEP/UNNECESSARY – Items that have already served their purpose or items that just occupy space and are accumulating dust.
    • UNKNOWN/SENTIMENTAL VALUE – Items that have monetary or sentimental value but no use for you or items that you are not sure about.
  3. Define a HOLDING PERIOD for Items under UNKNOWN/ SENTIMENTAL VALUE Category:
    • These are the items that are hard to let go, because there is an emotional attachment. Often times, you have these boxes storing items from your childhood, your precious collection, gifts from someone dear and other keepsakes. You don’t need to make a quick decision on what to do with these items. All you need to do is to put them in a box or boxes and set them aside. Mark the box/boxes with the holding period that you decide (6 to 12 months recommended holding period). At the end of the Holding Period, revisit the box/boxes and if you haven’t touch anything or taken anything out within that holding period, then you will know that you can let of go those items.Declutter 101
  4. Make a decision for items under DON’T KEEP/UNNECESSARY CATEGORY:
    • 3 ways to let go of the items under this category
      • Donate It! – Items that you consider no longer needed but you know that there is someone who will find your item useful. Donating is a very good way of giving someone the ability to possess something that they need without costing them a dime, turning useless items into useful items once again.
      • Sell It! This is the best way to get rid of all the items you no longer need that have monetary and sentimental value. It will definitely gain your lost space back aside from making some extra money. There are also a lot of ways to sell your beloved items, thanks to the internet! You can use Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor Neighbor app., Let go, and many more. These platforms makes selling your used items fast and convenient.
      • Trash It! It is time to say goodbye to items that have already served their purpose and thank them for their service. (hehe)Declutter 101
  5. Make sub-categories for items under TO KEEP/NECESSARY Category:
    • You need to re-examine each of the items under this category and group each items according to its Function, Frequency of Use and Location by asking yourself the following questions:
      • Function – What Items have similar use or functions?
      • Frequency of Use – How Often Do I Use this Item?”
      • Location – Where Do I Use it?
    • By answering the questions above this will help you to know where to store or position the items. Designate a cabinet or shelf to store these items as close as possible to where you usually use them.

Benefits of Decluttering

Decreasing the amount of stuff inside your home will also mean decreasing the number of furniture and fixtures you have to dust, to clean and to take care of. If you could only add the number of minutes that you spent in looking for something to wear from a huge pile of clothes (even though you always end up wearing the same set of clothes), number of times looking for something, number of minutes you spent in a dusting a bookshelf full of books (that you have not read for a long time) and the amount of frustration that comes with it, you would see how much time is wasted. You will be thankful that you let go of those unnecessary items in your life because by doing this, you have actually gained something more valuable that money can not buy.

Remember, it’s not putting things behind the cabinet or inside a box. It is a process of letting go of things that you don’t need, for you to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Careful planning is also needed to know where to place everything so you can have a sustainable organization solution. The goal of organizing is to make your everyday life easier and make your home a place of peace and safety.

Enjoy Decluttering and Good Luck!

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