An organized home is a happy home.
You are about to step out in the evening all dressed up. But you can’t find your favourite stole anywhere. You remember dry cleaning and keeping it somewhere “safe”. But it is not to be found anywhere. Sweaty from all the digging in, frustrated at the time wasted and annoyed by the mess you made, the incident spoils your mood for the evening. This is something that happens to most of us. If it is not a stole, it could be your favourite jeans or even your purse!
Clutter and lack of organization is the main reason why you spend time searching for things you kept away “safely.” Realizing the value and the sense of calm an organized home can bring about in life, Gayatri Gandhi, a former media professional decided to pursue a full-time career as a professional organizer. She learnt from the best- Marie Kondo a.ka. Konmari, whose organizational tips revolutionized the way spaces are organized. Gayatri became India’s first Konmari Consultant and now through Joy Factory, she helps individuals create purposeful premises that spark joy. This journey has won her various accolades including recognition as the winner of the Digital Women Awards in the Disruption category.
In addition to various packages for decluttering spaces, she also conducts workshops and consultation services to formulate customized plans. Joy Factory also has an insightful Instagram page where they share tidbits on how to keep a space organized and clutter-free.
In this interview, Gayatri talks not only about her journey so far but also shares a few tips that everyone could adopt to create a better living space.
What motivated you to quit your media profession and start your journey as a professional organizer?
I was on a sabbatical after working for 10 years with Discovery Channel (in 2016), which is when I came across the book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo.
The concept of the book was so exciting that I decided to apply it in my life. And as I went along the process, I started to see a change not only in my physical environment but also in my personal life as well. This is when I decided to delve more into this topic.
Till then I hadn’t realized how clutter could have a deep impact on our everyday lives! Researching on the topic, I narrowed it down to the point that cluttered surroundings have a great impact not just on the physical environment but also on the mental state of a person. The more I researched the more passionate I felt about this and saw merit in taking this concept ahead as a business proposition.
To concretize this theory, I carried out a survey with over 200 global respondents and this further validated the findings and gave me clarity on making the availability of the decluttering service in India truly relevant and bringing in the KonMari MethodTM due to its effectiveness and credibility.
I underwent training at the KonMari Consultants Seminar in New York in 2017, successfully completed and submitted my reports and pictures and as a result of this became India’s first KonMari Consultant. I also launched Joy Factory – the first company in India that officially offers The KonMari MethodTM to people for their premises.
How does a professional organizer approach differ from that of a regular homemaker’s attitude to organizing things?
The way a nutritionist approaches your diet and helps you in achieving a mindset shift for a healthy life is the same way a professional organizer analyses your requirements and helps you in achieving a home that fits your lifestyle with proper organization in place. The solutions provided are not temporary but best suited for the life you would like to lead!
Everyone organizes their home once every few months. But their places turn back into a mess within just a few days or weeks. Why does this happen? What do you suggest to avoid this vicious circle?
The primary reason why this happens is that people still don’t understand the real difference between ‘decluttering’ and ‘organizing’. Although ‘decluttering’ and ‘organizing’ go hand in hand it is important to know the difference between the two, because most often than not these two words are used synonymously which causes confusion!
Decluttering is the process of removing things from your premises that do not ‘Spark Joy’ based on the KonMari Method™. Whereas, Organizing is the process of putting the house in order with the items that get left behind after the decluttering process. Declutter must come before organizing.
Moving things around in the house solves a momentary problem. We feel we have organized whereas all we have done is just move the things around! Hence, the probability of mess is very high. The key is to declutter first and then organize things that truly bring us joy.
We have often heard homemakers saying that the kitchen is the most difficult place to keep organized. What is your take on this? Do you have any tips or suggestions to organize a small kitchen?
It’s true that the kitchen usually is the most cluttered disorganized place in a house, mostly because it is frequented by all family members and there is no sole person to take responsibility for that area.
But it’s also true that kitchens don’t have to be perfectly tidy at all times since that is a place where most activity takes place. In the kitchen, however, cleanliness is crucial. Moisture and oil are the biggest enemies sometimes leaving a greasy film over the entire kitchen and completely eliminating any trace of joy! Thus, the focus in the kitchen is not on ease of use, but on ease of cleaning.
Ease of cleaning is the criterion for effective kitchen storage and organization. A few tips to get you there!
- Avoid keeping anything on the counter near the stove or sink.
- Use transparent jars/containers to store items. The more you see things, the more you will use them!
- Categorize, categorize, categorize – Store all items together as per the 3 main categories: (1) Implements for eating, (2) Cooking tools & (3) Food Items d) Use trays or baskets or boxes to contain categories in the kitchen. Do not store items of two different categories together, that’s calling for disaster!
- Take advantage of vertical storage solutions. That way, you’ll take full advantage of the height of your storage space and be able to tell at a glance what is stored where.
- Use organizers wherever possible – there are enough and more options available.
- Label everything – there is no easier way to keep things sorted and organized.
- And lastly, decorate your kitchen, too. Your cooking should make cooking fun!
Can you please share some tips on how to choose organizers for home? With plenty of options available, how do you not go overboard?
It’s best to first use products already available in the house like baskets or boxes or trays. Please don’t buy before you have done your decluttering or else you will end up buying more things than required and that will lead to clutter!
There are loads of options available in the market but the best is to first list down the items you require across the house. And continue to ask the question “does it spark joy” – that will help keep a check on your buying trends. Also, it’s good to follow interesting pages on Instagram that give ideas and solutions on what to buy.
You are a KonMari certified consultant. Did you have to modify your approach to suit the habits and lifestyle of Indian households?
The beauty of the KonMari Method™ is that it can be incorporated into any culture since the philosophy behind it is very positive, mindful and simple. It’s really about asking yourself this honest question, ‘Does it Spark Joy?’
So, when one is able to break it down and ask ‘what makes me happy or joyful from within’ on a day-to-day basis, it becomes very easy to understand and thus the concept can be easily applied to all aspects of your life! Her method brings mindfulness into a person’s life, and encourage them to step back and take a bird’s eye view of their lives. But yes, each house is different and so is each individual. And for us, India is a very unique market than overseas. Hence, I did modify the approach to best suit Indian households.
Towards the same, taking inspiration from The KonMari Method™, we at Joy Factory formulated the C2S2 Approach, which makes the tidying process streamlined, effective and exciting. C2S2 stands for C-Collect, C-Choose, S-Scrap, S-Store and is applied to every category, starting from clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items to sentimental items. Items pertaining to the same category are first Collected at a central place to evaluate the volume of items owned. We then ask the question, Does it Spark Joy? so as to make an informed decision of what to Choose. On the other hand, items that are not chosen are then acknowledged for the purpose they served and thanked before letting go. This forms an essential part of the term Scrap. Last but not the least, storing is imperative to the complete tidying journey. Items must be stored such that they are visually appealing, easy to access and vertically stacked. It’s about giving each item its own home!