When professional organizer Renée Rains walks into a new client’s home, one of the first things she finds out is which part of the home is bothering them the most. The bedroom, office and kitchen are the most common offenders.

She listens, observes and attempts to understand the personalities of the home’s inhabitants. Then, she uses this to help create methods for tidying that will lift some of the weight caused by clutter.

As the end of the semester approaches and the time for spring cleaning draws near, the time to declutter your space and mind might just be now.

The tidying tide

Organizing and tidying took an uncharacteristic leap in public interest after Netflix released the reality series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Jan. 1. The show follows Marie Kondo, Japanese organizational expert and bestselling author, along her adventures through the homes of frustrated Americans in need of decluttering advice.

Her famed KonMari Method, urges users to organize by category and to discard possessions that do not “spark joy.” Many inspired viewers took to social media to share photos of their trash bags full of discarded clothes as well as unusually long Goodwill lines thought to be a result of Kondo’s show.

The weight of clutter

Part of the reason we have trouble getting rid of certain objects lies within the strong emotions people tend to attach to those objects, said Kenneth Bailey, psychiatry assistant professor at UT-Southwestern.

Clutter may be a signifier of something deeper, and students might find help in therapy, Bailey said.

When the mental weight of clutter has become too heavy for someone, they often enlist the help of a professional. Organizational expert Amy Jones helps families and individuals to gain control over the clutter in their lives.

“The more things we have around us, the more it affects our ability for quick, efficient and insightful decision-making,” Jones said.

A room covered in clothes, paper and books is probably a familiar sight to many students. This is true for computer engineering senior Sochima Omenkeukwu.

“Especially when a test is coming up, or I have a lot to do, then it gets really chaotic around me,” Omenkeukwu said.

Getting started

If a student’s space makes them feel overwhelmed or unfocused, then it might be time for a change, Rains said.

Subjects of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” are seen tackling the clutter in home areas such as the kitchen, closet and garage.

However, both Jones and Rains recommend starting small.

Make a list of problem areas that are bothering you, such as the dishes. Work on that area, monitor how gratifying it is to accomplish the task and then add on. This will build momentum to encourage tidying, Jones said.

Out of the closet

The most problematic areas for individuals tend to be related to clothing and paper, Rains said. That means closets, offices or desk spaces.

The KonMari Method instructs users to rid themselves of items that do not inspire joy. In the show, subjects are seen caressing their garments and then tossing them aside after a brief respect is paid to the item.

Rains, urges people to rid their closet of what they don’t use, then categorize what’s left, she said. Exercise, going out and work attire are some categories Rains uses to separate clothing.

Jones frequently asks clients dealing with paper clutter if they’re okay with digitizing it.

Paper is the most common issue for Rains’ clients as well. Finding a filing system that works and disposing of unused paper is key, she said.

Students can create folders on their computers or online storage spaces like Google Docs to store digital files such as school work and important documents.

It’s getting stuffy in here

There are many methods individuals can use to keep their newly tidied space from becoming cluttered. One of them is to simply stop bringing in more stuff.

She asks herself, “Is it a need or a want?” before buying something.

Jones believes that the need for so much stuff can also be linked to inner issues.

“They know something needs to be fixed,” Jones said. “They know that they’re uncomfortable, and so instead of fixing themselves, they try to fix it with stuff externally.”

When it comes to shopping, Jones encourages people to take a look at what they have beforehand to avoid buying more of the same.



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