Money pro tips Q&A with KonMari consultant Karin Socci

Myelle Lansat


Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

News Editor

Myelle Lansat is a news editor at Policygenius, where she writes the Easy Money newsletter and covers insurance and personal finance. Previously, she was a personal finance writer at CNBC and Acorns, and a reporter for Business Insider.

Published May 1, 2020 | 4 min read

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This week we spoke with Karin Socci, a consultant with the KonMari organizing method made famous by Marie Kondo and co-host of the podcast "Spark Joy." We asked her how organizing your home can help you adapt to sheltering in place.

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Considering our current climate, why is an organized living space important?

Now, even more so, in order to feel comfortable and do the things you need to do-work, school, or just relaxing-it is very important to have as much open space as possible. Plus, clutter can feel oppressive and depressing.

Nowadays, many of us need to stock up a bit more on necessary supplies. Who could imagine that we would need to keep masks on hand six months ago? So, this is a good time to consider if you are holding onto things you don’t so that you have more room for the things that our new life calls for.

How can we separate our work space from our living space, both mentally and physically?

If an actual office with a door isn’t possible, see if some physical boundary can be created. If you are working from the dining room table, maybe you can pick all the supplies up and put them in a bin for the evening. Sometimes, just closing the laptop can be a clear signal that the day is done.

If two or more family members are working or doing schoolwork from home, discuss what communication boundaries you will all set. It’s very hard not to talk with your partner when they are sitting 10 feet away, but interruptions can impact concentration. This is really important when it comes to online meetings. The people on the call can hear and see everything, so make sure you let your family member know when you need quiet time.

If you have never worked from home, you may be discovering that you need to set guidelines for yourself that seem simple, but can make a huge difference. You may decide that getting up and ready, including dressed, at the same time can make a difference in your ability to start “working time.” It may help to just go for a walk around the block at the end of work to feel that you have arrived “home” for the day!

What’s the first step in organization if you don’t know where to start?

In KonMari, the first step is your vision, or why are you getting organized in the first place? If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, you may not ever get started. Getting organized, I mean really organized, is a big commitment and a lot of work. You’ll want to be clear on your goals before you start.

Once you know your “why,” it’s easier to get started.

What’s your No. 1 tip to finding happiness while sheltering in place?

We have been so fortunate to have some real superstars on the recently — Peter Walsh of “It’s All Too Much” and David Allen of “Getting Things Done.” Both have shared how important it is to be aware of what is causing stress and anxiety and setting up concrete steps to reduce it.

Work stress is usually trying to tell you something .Are your tasks and to-do’s floating around in your head? Do you need a system for managing your work so that you can focus on what’s important?

Both Peter and David emphasized that just cleaning up your desk can give you a start to feeling more in control and less anxious.

What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to organizing?

Without a doubt, the first thing my clients ask me is what they should go get at The Container Store before we begin. The answer is nothing!

You may need some things for storage, but we always sort and edit before we organize. It’s very easy to just shove things in a bin and close the lid, and that’s not organizing. In order to make organization last, it’s important to start with editing and then, maybe, you’ll need some nice baskets!

What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever received?

Whenever possible, consider a big purchase carefully before you make it. Rarely is something such a great opportunity that you must act right then. The number of things I decided I didn't really need after a week of thinking about it far outnumbers the things I actually spent money on!

Also, cheap is not always a bargain. You may think that Gap T-shirts at $10 each are a great deal and buy five of them on impulse, when one perfect $50 tee will be a better investment over time.

What’s the worst financial advice you ever received?

Take out as many student loans as you can! The interest rate is so low and you have forever to pay them off. It’s almost like free money!

What’s the best thing you’ve spent money on?

Experiences! I love to travel and the best trip recently was a tour of all the sites in Germany commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, which was an art and architecture movement of the early 20th century.

What’s the most rewarding part of your business?

I’ve learned just how darn interesting people are! I never know exactly what to expect when I meet someone for the first time, but it’s always an adventure.

I get to meet people and families in their homes and work with them very closely in making big changes in their lives. I’ve gotten to know folks from all sorts of backgrounds and help them discover what’s most important to them.

Being a part of someone making big positive changes is so rewarding.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko