Spring organizing tips for seniors

Does a spring decluttering—or downsizing—spark joy in your life? For some, the answer may be a resounding “no.” If, however, you are a fan of organizing wonder-woman Marie Kondo and her “KonMari Method,” your response might contain more delight than disdain.

“Enchanted” with organizing since she was a child, Kondo is now an international success story with three mega-selling books and a hit Netflix TV series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Her goal is simple: to help people transform their cluttered homes into serene and inspiring spaces.  

For anyone contemplating a move to a seniors’ residence, the downsizing process may seem a long, tough slog to achieve serenity. Kondo, however, simplifies the task by tackling the big conundrum faced by most people: how to decide what to keep and what to give away?

“Hold each item in your hands, as close to your heart as possible, and then, pay close attention to how your body responds,” Kondo says. “When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill running through your body, as if your body is somehow slowly rising up to meet the item, embracing it even.”*

If the item doesn’t “spark joy,” Kondo advises disposing of it—a move you can now make with confidence, having evaluated the object’s deeper emotional impact on your life.

Here are four more Marie Kondo tips that may be especially useful for older adults on an organizing journey or preparing for a move into a retirement residence:

Visualize your life in your new space.
Kondo asks you to imagine the kind of life you will lead in your new—or decluttered—space. “Think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space,” she says.* For example, if you’re moving to a seniors’ residence, imagine enjoying getting up every morning in your suite, knowing that you don’t have to worry about last night’s dishes, and can instead meet friends for a morning coffee in the lounge.

Discard before deciding where to keep things
There are only two tasks involved to tidying or de-cluttering, Kondo says: discarding and deciding where to keep things. “Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding,” she advises.*

Show gratitude for an item’s service
Once you’ve decided a particular item no longer “sparks joy,” but may still hold sentimental value, Kondo says you should give it a send-off that respects the donor. She advocates thanking the item for its service, maintaining that this gratitude will reduce or even eliminate the guilt you may feel by discarding or giving it away.*

Discard first by category, not by room
Kondo maintains sorting by room is inefficient; instead, she advocates sorting by category, starting first with clothes, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally items or mementos with sentimental value. She likens this order to training your tidying muscles, starting with the easiest stuff and working up to the most difficult and meaningful things.

Are you wondering if the timing is right to move into a retirement residence? Take Chartwell’s “Am I Ready?” questionnaire to learn more.


*The following sources provided references for this blog, in order of appearance:

Kondo, Marie. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Random House Canada. Toronto, 2014.