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Did Marie Kondo Inspire You To Get Organized? Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of a Professional Organizer

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Since the popular Netflix series "Tidying up with Marie Kondo" premiered on January 1st, 2019, there has rarely been a day that someone didn't ask me if I have seen the show. That makes sense, since everyone knows how passionate I am about the subject. It is exciting to me when a TV show or book not only inspires people to get organized but also highlights the benefits of working with an organizing professional.

Watching the show from a professional's point of view is interesting as I tend to compare my own experiences with what is shown. Let's not forget that it is a reality TV show after all! Here are a few things that stood out for me positively:

  • That the viewer got a sense of how long the organizing process can take; no quick weekend makeover here! Although, I wish they'd explained how many hours the homeowners spent each day purging and organizing.

  • How emotionally draining the work can be. All actual stuff, as anyone who's ever had to downsize or clean out the belongings of their loved ones, can attest.

  • Each episode featured people in different stages of life; such as young adults just starting out, a couple with young children, empty nesters, as well as a widow, dealing with the loss of her husband, etc.

  • The after shots of the home were not picture-perfect images you'd see on makeover shows. It's just like in real life when we use containers that clients already own.

  • Conflicting viewpoints on organizing can be resolved through compromise and a common goal.

Clearly, I won't be telling you anything new about Marie, since there have been many articles written about her books "The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up" , "Spark Joy," and now about her new TV show. Over the years, I was asked many times if I follow Marie's method of organizing when working with my clients. Thought I'd share some of my processes.

We follow some of the same methodologies, such as letting go of anything that no longer serves a purpose or supports your current lifestyle. We focus on creating a home for every item and continued maintenance of the systems put in place, just to name a few.

Marie believes there is only one right order of decluttering: clothes, books, papers, kimono (miscellany), and finally, sentimental items.

To me, each individual's situation is unique, which will be assessed during my initial phone and in-home consultation. After discussing the various areas that are causing frustration for my client, we create a list, from which we then determine the order of importance - beginning with the biggest source of stress. Sometimes, that may be the closet, so we would start with clothing. Many times, though, we begin with paper or general household clutter.

Some examples:

We begin by tackling a disorganized mudroom - when a family with active children could benefit from an organized launching pad or drop zone.

We begin by decluttering the basement - which often becomes the catch-all place for everything that is no longer in use, which can grow into an overwhelming mountain of clutter over the years.

We begin by working in a spare bedroom - when my client wants to create a guest room or home office.

We begin by reorganizing the kitchen - when the cupboards and pantry are too crammed with items that are not being used, hindering the family from efficiently using the space.

We begin by clearing a cluttered garage - when winter approaches and the family cars need to find a place to park out of the elements.

We begin by purging files in the home office - when papers have gotten out of hand and file cabinets are overflowing.

Marie uses her personal brand of organizing boxes in each episode. By the way, her set of Hikidashi boxes completely sold out 10 days after the show premiered! Wow, that's wonderful for her business! However, I wonder how many of these boxes will end up sitting on shelves or in spare rooms, alongside other unused organizing baskets and gadgets.

Let me explain. In my experience, it usually works best to declutter first. After which, you will get a sense of the amount and type of storage solutions needed. I know it can be tempting to purchase pretty baskets and boxes in anticipation of getting organized. However, many of these containers or storage products often end up not being used at all because they were the wrong size or available in insufficient quantities for the number of items clients want to store. If you're going to the trouble of acquiring attractive containers, you don't want 80% of your stuff in pretty bins and the last 20% in shoe boxes because the store no longer has the color or design you like. So, organize first, and then contain all of it.

Sometimes, when organizing with my clients, I will take along basic organizing products in anticipation of a specific project. For example, I might bring turntables, racks, and drawer organizers for kitchens and bathrooms, a variety of organizing totes for storage spaces, or file folders and magazine holders when working in home offices. These items, besides the homeowner's existing products, are often sufficient. If additional items are needed, we then determine which options are best for the project, depending on space, function, and desired style.

All organizing professionals have one common goal - to help reduce our clients' stress and anxiety! This will be achieved by removing what is not needed, systemizing what is left, and teaching how to maintain the space - ultimately creating a peaceful environment and life. There is no one right way to organize! So, when looking for guidance from a professional, choose whatever approach feels right for you and get started!

Need accountability or hands-on assistance with any of your organizing projects? Call or email, I’m here to help, whether in person or virtually. Call 585-201-6009 or write to

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Feb 06, 2019

I love your advise of organizing before you buy containers. It seems counter intuitive but makes so much sense. I also think it is a great idea to start with the rooms or areas that are causing the most stress. Great blog content!

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