As neurodivergent creatives, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with too much stuff both in our environment and in our minds. We may be overrun with office supplies, craft supplies, and/or miscellaneous things that support our hyperfixations or latest hyperfocus. The ADHD brain is especially prone to mental clutter, and when our environment is a mess it’s even harder to quiet our thoughts. On our last guest call, Nadja Carghetti shared how you can use the Marie Kondo approach to tidy your brain!
Many people think you are either tidy or untidy, but the good news is that tidying is something you can learn! In Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she shares how we can systematically tidy our space by getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. Marie Kondo’s method of tidying can be applied to your mind as well as your stuff and help prioritize the things we spend our mental energy on.
On this episode of Embracing Intensity, we share our talk with Nadja Carghetti, former tidying coach and host of the Unleash Monday Podcast, on Tidying Up Your Brain, Marie Kondo Style!
In this episode:
- Why people’s homes reflect their life.
- Nadja’s experience of being a multipotentialite and interested in many things.
- How growing up messy in her tidy parents’ house led her to believe you were either tidy or untidy.
- It took a long time to realize that tidying was something you could learn.
- The systematic decluttering process that can help you clear your space and mind.
- How learning the KonMari tidying method led to diving deeper into what brought her joy!
- Finding yourself through the process of tidying.
- Why tidying is considered a festival rather than a party.
- The 5 categories of things and the best order to sort them.
- Sorting through information overload to find the important bits.
* Rough Transcript *
Tidying Up Your Brain, Marie Kondo Style w/ Nadja Carghetti
Embracing Intensity ep. 255
Aurora: So welcome everyone. I’m super thrilled to have Nadia and it’s Carghetti?
Aurora: Ah, see I was totally wrong.
Nadja: It’s Italian
Aurora: This is the problem seeing things in writing, right? Yeah. Awesome. So glad to have you talking about tidying up your brain, Marie Kondo style. And I thought this was such a great, unique topic and I love to hear everything Nadia has to say.
So I’m thrilled to have her here. I was mentioning earlier this, my, my executive function got away with me last weekend and I forgot to schedule out posts to remind people about this. So when Nadia reminded me halfway through the week, I got them scheduled out for like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
But that seems to actually be more effective than spreading out the posts because people see it and it’s fresh in their mind. So it’s great to have you guys and great to have you here, Nadia. So I’ll let you take it away.
Nadja: Thank you. So I’m not sure how familiar you are with the Marie Kondo method, but No.
Okay, good. I prepared some slides, so maybe Aurora if you can enable me to share them.
Aurora: You should be good now.
Tidying Up Your Brain
Nadja: Perfect. Okay, so thank you so much Aurora for having me. I would like to share about how you can tidy to thrive and how you can Konmari your life and your brain. That was kind of my. First dip into entrepreneurship until I realized I didn’t like to work with clients as a tidy coach.
But the skill is still really helpful, as you will see going through this presentation, with you. So, I would like to start off with this quote from Frank Mosca, who’s an architect. He says, we are living our life depending on the space we’ve got, rather than creating our space to fit our lives. And I think that’s so true.
Because we have, you know, huge houses. I don’t know if you are, most of you are in Northern America, probably have bigger houses than me. But we have just this space and then we just fill it with things and clutter and just, instead of really thinking what do we want? And then create the space for that.
And I think the same also goes for our brains. If we’re here in this gifted community or 2 E community, we might have different capacity than other people. And we might just stuff our brains with things. But maybe we can also be a little bit more mindful of how we fill our brains and what we put into them and what we keep and what we let go.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Nadja: So I wanna talk about joy today. That’s all about the Marie Kondo method. And I was once asked to share a picture that represents me and I think that little girl throwing around balls in this pool of balls. I don’t even know what this is called, but it’s like this bazinga pool of balls. And just that looks like the happiest moment of this little girl’s life, and I think that represents me.
So I wanna share how tidying can positively influence your life. It’s such, it sounds so simple, it’s a simple technique, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So I give you the step by step guide for successfully tidying your space and simultaneously your brain, and also a few. Thoughts and how you can, have a little bit more joy in your daily life as of today?
I just wanna make the difference between tidying and cleaning, especially if non-English speaking natives. So tidying is about focusing on your things where cleaning is about, dirt and debris. With tidying, you basically face yourself because it’s your things, your belongings, whereas with cleaning, you’re facing your surroundings nature.
And so that, that’s two different things in terms of activity, but also what it represents and how it can affect your mental state.
Who is Nadja?
Nadja: But who am I talking about tidying so passionately? So I’m Nadia Carghetti. I call myself a multi potential light with a hybrid professional identity. One of my podcast guests Sarah Beth Burke shared about the hyper professional identity.
And I think that’s so on point that you know, especially the two E community and some of you mentioned, having three different endeavors going on simultaneously. So yeah, that, that’s also me. I call myself a former tidying coach, a former scientist, former project manager. Currently I’m a HR professional.
I would like to represent the neuro divergent community in the HR profession. That’s why I took this new opportunity. I’m also a podcast host of Unleash Monday, which talks about neurodiversity and twice exceptionality, so giftedness and anything on top of that.
So yeah, currently I’ve been a little bit quiet. It’s been a lot going on, so I’m still going also through the process of tidying what to keep and what to focus on. So I’m actually very excited to be here today and talk about joy, cuz I think I need to hear it myself. So thank you again for having me.
Growing Up Untidy
Nadja: So this is an actual picture, of my room at 15 years old. I was very ashamed in the beginning sharing this, but now I, you know, my dad once took this picture and he threatened to show My classmates when I was 15 years old. And I thought, if I’m so smart, why can I not keep my room tidy? It’s not that my parents didn’t try.
They told me every Saturday to tidy up my room so that I could then, vacuum the floor. But as you can see on this picture, the floor is covered with stuff. It was never dirty, but it was always messy. And after maybe half an hour later, it looked the same . So, yeah. Yep. But it can be learned.
So that’s a picture of my bedroom, not the one currently, but my former bedroom, right? When I did the Marie Kondo method, I actually am able to tidy. Now I can keep it tidy and it really calms also my brain. But I must say when I’m stressed, when there’s a lot going on in my mind, it reflects in my space. So the more my space is tidy, I’m put together, the more my space around me is getting a little bit out of hand, the more is going on internally, so that can be a reflection.
And when I see, my room getting a little bit out of hand, I know okay, it’s time to kind of attend again to my mental tidiness as well.
Intro to Marie Kondo
Nadja: Basis of my teaching is basically Marie Kondo. She’s a very famous tidying guru from Japan. And I think the reason why she’s so successful in the US is because her books were translated in such a beautiful way into the English language that it really incorporates the Japanese philosophy, but kind of translates it into the Northern American lifestyle.
The translation was done in a really beautiful way. And the term spark joy comes from the translator. I think that’s so on point really finding these things that really, you know, spark this joy in us.
If you try to tidy. And downsize a little bit of your belongings. There will always be emotions involved. Downsizing is not without emotions. They can be positive, but some of them can also be negative. So just be aware that this is an emotional process. When I started this process of tidying I was actually very surprised how emotional it got.
I thought, you know, I’m just gonna start tidying with this sock drawer. I was really kind of overcome with emotions. And when I found the method, I basically found the video, I think somewhere, I guess on Facebook. And I started before even reading the books, and only once I started reading her books about tidying, I realized, Oh, it’s not me.
Finding Yourself Through Tidying
Nadja: It’s really this process of kind of finding yourself through tidying. So there’s positive side effects that come when you start tidying it. It is really empowering because you have to make so many decisions like what do you keep and what not. It really clears your space, but at the same time, it will also clear your mind and it effectively is a lifestyle change because you will experience things in a different way.
Like in the past I loved the shopping, how do you say retail therapy, I think you call it. You go and you buy something and you feel better. And now I think twice, is this really something I need in my life? So I think it really helped me to kind of overcome certain traits, and habits that were not supporting me and the lifestyle I wanna lead.
Especially in, circular economy or if you wanna be conscious about the environment. This, I think really helped me get really clear on what’s important and what do you really need, and how much things that we accumulate that we don’t really need.
So what is the goal of the Konmari method?
The Goal of the Konmari Method
Nadja: So the goal is basically to tidy once and for all. So there’s two types of tidying. It’s basically this once in a lifetime, really deep decluttering and tidy and assign everything in your home a space so that when you do the day to day tidying, you can just put it back to where it belongs. And I think that’s where I struggled when you saw my room, it was really cluttered.
Things was over the place. There was just too much things that it couldn’t even fit into the drawers. And also, every time I was trying to tidy, there wasn’t really a space assigned. So every time I had to like think of where could I put this, you know, where’s a little bit of room in a drawer that I could stuff it in a corner.
So it’s basically really first getting rid of the things and then really assigning everything item a room and then only keeping the things that do support you and your life. Like really letting go of everything else. And that could be the physical things, but it can also be other things like relationships that no longer serve you.
So it’s very, very simple. And that’s also something that I think I felt so a little bit stupid, because I thought, well, there must be something really special to being able to tidy your space because I actually thought there’s only two types of people in the world, the ones that are tidy and the ones that are untidy.
Getting Started Tidying
Nadja: And you’re either born, tidy, or you born untidy, and that’s what you are for the rest of your life. I realized it’s something you can actually learn. And when my parents just sent me to my room saying, go tidy, nobody actually explained to me how, because I guess people just assume you just put, you know where it belongs in your cupboard, in your drawer, fold the clothes.
But if you keep in mind these six basic rules of tidying, it will actually seem very easy. But again, Simple but not easy. Maybe that’s better to say it. So I just have an overview. What does that mean for the KonMari method? It’s basically, you really need to commit, right? It’s like anything you do in life.
If you wanna fitness routine, a healthy lifestyle, you have to commit. Otherwise the first temptation you see will throw you off the wagon. You’ll have to imagine your ideal lifestyle. How do you actually want to live your life? How do you wanna occupy the space that you have? And then finish discarding first so that you actually have space that you can store the rest.
And then tidy by category and not by location. So not just, I’m gonna tidy a drawer, but say, Okay, I’m gonna start with the clothes. And then there’s actually. The right order that Marie Kondo found. And the most important question is always ask yourself if it does spark joy. So if we go through what that means is really to focus on what is positive and fun.
It’s a Festival not a Party
Nadja: Focus what inspires and empowers you, what positively impacts also other aspects of your life. That’s basically the joy factor. And that if you do that with your belongings, that will translate to every anything and everything you do. So commit to the tidying means you tidy once and for all quickly and swiftly.
And she calls it a tidying festival, which means a festival lasts a few days, so it’s not something you can do in an afternoon. So it’s not a party, it’s a festival, but. It will be over in a few days or a few weeks. if you have a lot of things, but it is finite so it can be done. And when you start on discarding and focus on the discarding part, there’s one thing that I think is very important, and I didn’t realize this until later, that you should really focus on what to keep and then letting go of everything else.
We do not go through the closet and think, Oh, well, what can I get rid of? What can I donate? But really we pick the things that we wanna keep and then letting go of all the rest. And do not think about storage at this point. Just let it all go and only keep what there will be space for what you keep.
And tidy by category and not by location means you go and collect all the things that come to the same category. For me, for example, eye opening was pens. I collected so many different pens whenever I went to a workshop or somewhere, they always give you these free, cheap pens. Now, I actually don’t take them anymore.
The Importance of Order
Nadja: I only have the pens that spark joy in our pink. But when you gather all the things and put them on a pile, it really creates this power of a pile that you see how many things you got from a category and then finding the harmony in this amount. So you can set yourself a number, but there’s no set numbers.
I mean, for clothes you can think, how many pairs of pants do I wanna keep? What’s the number for me?
And then there’s an order, There’s the right order to start the tidying. A lot of people wanna start with the kitchen. They’re like, My kitchen is the worst. But if you start with your clothes you start with the things that are very close to you. You know, you wear them every single day and they’re the closest physically to you, and it’s easy to make decisions.
So we go from easy to the hardest part throughout the festival, the tidying Festival. So clothes, then books, then paper. And then the biggest categories, kimono, which is, I’m always pronouncing this wrong, miscellaneous items. Then the sentimental items at the end. There can be sentimental items in every single category, and you can keep them.
Until the end, because these are the most difficult decisions to make. So for example, when you start with clothes and you have like a t-shirt from a band that you went to a concert to when you were, I don’t know, 25 years old, that’s for sure as sentimental item. And you don’t need to make a decision right at the start.
How do You Want to Live Your Life?
Nadja: You can keep that at the end, but make sure not everything in your house is a sentimental item. I mean, keep that to a minimum otherwise. Then we categorize the sentimental items again into those categories.
And lastly is really to imagine this ideal lifestyle to really focus on like what would be your ideal space. And that does also include your daily routine, like dream big. It’s more like how do you wanna live yourself, Right?
And not just how do you wanna have a beautiful, decorated apartment, but how do you wanna move and breathe and be in that apartment? Because how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives, right?
That’s the quote by Annie Dillard, and this is as much true as for activities, but also our thoughts so that when you spend your days thinking about certain things, that will be your life. We really think we’re living life objectively, but life is so subjective. We experience the world. And we interpret them through our brains.
And so that’s how you let your brain go through the day and your mind that will really affect you in a way that this will be your life. So I think that for me was also very eye opening where I choose to see the positive side of things whenever possible. And I choose to be, processing information in a certain way actively.
Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle
Nadja: So would like for you to kind of take a minute to kind of close your eyes and imagine your ideal lifestyle. Start with, the first hour in the morning when you wake up, how would you like to ideally spend that first hour? How would you like to wake up in the morning? Like, how would you like to be woken up by your alarm clock that’s either shrinky or is it by music or is it a sunrise alarm clock or the sunrise itself?
How do you feel the first thing in the morning and what would you like to smell? Is that fresh coffee or tea? And what would you like to hear, like, Yeah. And what would you do in this first hour, Would you. Coffee by the window or would you do, I dunno, a mindfulness practice. Would you like to read a book or you jump in a shower?
Like there’s really a lot we can, we can do.
Oh yes. I would also be love to be woken up by a personal chef bringing me breakfast to bed. That sounds really lovely.
Tidying Tips and Tricks
Nadja: So let’s dive a little bit into the categories. I would like to give you a few tips and tricks and how you could actually then start this endeavor of decluttering and tidying your space. So if we start with clothes, you gather all the clothes and that means all the clothes. But I know people with adhd especially, as I am too, I struggle to finish things so I can be very motivated One minute and then I create a huge pile, and then that’s the pile, and then that’s the pile.
And tomorrow it’s still the pile. And in three weeks it’s still the pile. So if it helps you, you can form sub categories. So you can start with your sock drawer and form a little pile that, you know, okay, I can actually finish this in the time span that I can, focus the executive functioning, right?
And if you struggle, there are tidying coaches like, well, I was one of the former certified KonMari consultants, but there’s others, there’s lots. And there are also some of them that are actually specializing in adhd. There’s also another thing I would like to mention is that if people go through trauma, that can also lead to accumulating clutter in their homes.
So that can also be a reason why somebody has difficulties letting go of things. It can also be obviously a combination. So yeah, always form subcategories if needed.
The Power of the Pile
Nadja: And then, you have this power of the pile and the power of the pile really helps you shock your system.
As I mentioned, my, my pens, right? I saw, I dunno how many pens I had, enough to write more than a lifetime. And I realized, okay, I better donate them and not collect so many in the future. Cause I have my favorite pens and those are the only ones I write with. The same goes for clothes. And then really focusing on what sparks joy.
And I think for people that are gifted, if you can make the decision with your heart and brain together, it’s an easy one, right? If you like it and it feels good, it’s easy. But when the mind and the hard are not aligned, so you like something, but you feel like cognitively this doesn’t make sense, you wanna let it go.
Or you think it’s not the prettiest, but it’s practical. So I think that’s the most difficult combination. So it’s always trying to align the mind and the heart. I make a decision, and that’s really how we hone in to really get this alignment in everything that we do. When the heart and the brain is in it together, you make a good decision.
Nadja: And so the Marie Condo method, if you’ve seen her show on Netflix she stores her clothes beautifully upwards. It helps so that you have the whole content of your drawer or the box at once, so nothing gets lost in a pile.
And yeah, all clothes can be folded. Also socks. And you can use little boxes to store things and always store them upright. And if you have clothes, you create this rise to the right. Apparently this sparks joy. I’m not sure, I don’t know if there’s any scientific proof you can. You can try it, hang it the other way and see how you feels. Tops to the top, bottoms to the bottoms.
Nadja: So the second category is books. And again, I guess for gifted people, this can be very fundamental emotional because the books is where all the knowledge is and we love them. So it’s the same. You gather all the books, you touch them all, but you shouldn’t start reading them while you’re tidying cuz you won’t get anywhere otherwise.
The tip here is to really curate your best of collection of your books. And I know from experience. I love knowledge and scientific books, but now when I look something up, I usually use Google and not the book. So yeah, really you think about what would you like to keep, what do you gonna read second time, if ever.
And what I also would like to mention here is the power of the words on the spine of the books. So if you have them displayed in your home and you have a lot of books with topics that have powerful but maybe negative words on them can pay attention to that because, we see those words, right?
They’re kind of like projecting. Sound, the words into the room. So if you keep words on the spine that inspire you, that are positive, yeah. Might make a difference in your life.
Nadja: Then we come to paper and paper’s easy because scattering paper and paper doesn’t spark joy. So get rid of all of it.
Basically, that’s the tip. You don’t need the paper. You only keep the essential documents. Everything else goes, and you can store them in three groups, like a to-do file, like letters that need a respondents, bills that need to be paid, something that needs an action are currently in use. These are, for example, your, I don’t know, insurance policies that are currently in use or your phone provider that you signed up currently.
So things that are currently in use, and then you have to keep forever box, your diplomas, your birth certificates something like that. But anything else? Snippets and we’re not talking about like letters from friends that will be more on the sentimental side.
But here we really talk about the electric bill, something like that. Yeah, make sure you adhere to the rules. I know the irs, for example, you need to have proof for things or you have property things like that. But anything else that you don’t need to keep, yeah, let it go.
And maybe I can mention something here about cards or greeting cards from friends. Of course if it’s emotional, sentimental and you would like to keep it for sure. But gifts and cards they convey a message. It’s a greeting. And once it has been given and received, the purpose is done so you can let it go if you wish.
Nadja: And yes, Aurora you mentioned that there’s a lot of things are digital now as well, right? So you get a lot of bills electronically and then that’s a whole other categories. Then digital clutter. I think Marie Kondo needs to also upgrade her books about the digital clutter and the photos. But I think if you do the physical ones first, you will also then be able to categorize and make decisions on your digital item.
Yeah, the digital clutter is real. Especially in the past storage space, digital storage space was so expensive and now you know, the cloud is there and everything’s just in the cloud.
Nadja: Komono. Komono is basically everything else that you own. And I love this picture of like, The colors and there’s just everything in there, right?
But then again, you can also make sub categories, and it’s the same process. You gather all the items, you decide what to keep and letting go of all the rest and then store items from the same category together.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But again, it might not be so easy in the process.
Nadja: And at the very end then there’s the sentimental items, and hopefully you’ve been, you know, thoroughly and not keeping everything as a sentimental items. So these might then be not too many items at the end. So for those you can really take your time because you are processing your past and really listen to your heart and focus on your vision.
That will keep you grounded in making those decisions. And again, you don’t have to let things go, right? This is really letting things go that no longer serve you. I mean, especially sentimental items. We have things that has been given to us by somebody. It can be a positive emotions, but sometimes, there’s guilt or other emotions attached.
And then really hone in to like, is this really serving me or is it time to let go?
Nadja: So yeah that really goes into the mindful and gratitude practice that you can practice already starting today. Even if you haven’t hided your home yet, you can start greeting your home by just saying hello to the space that’s there. I mean, your home, is the place where you recharge and recover From the surroundings around us, right?
From from the environment. And it’s usually the place where we regain our energies and make the decisions with your brain and your heart together and then let go with gratitude. You can really say thank you out loud to everything and say thank you for the purpose it served while it was in your life.
Sometimes it can also just be, Thank you for the lesson it taught me. Thank you leopard print is not my color and letting go. So yeah, with that, I hope I could have inspired you to. Get you into the tidying process and see what it does also with your brain. I will also like to mention that yeah, I do have a website.
It’s called unleash monday.com where you can also find the podcast and you can always send me an email at email@example.com. So I also have a little curated list of things that I love about, my favorite physical and mental tidying books that yeah, I think are on my chair.
Aurora: Awesome. And one of the things I was going back and looking for quotes from your last podcast interview, and one of the things you had mentioned was like, how this, these concepts applied to your life. You know, started looking at how can you be more conscious in the things you led into your life, Not just your physical space, but just in, in your life in general and seeking to spark joy.
And I think that’s a great and it’s something that I’ve had to do being conscious of like letting go. Like you had mentioned relationships that are no longer that are draining or activities that you feel like you’re prioritizing or that you feel like you need to do or should do, but they’re not really serving you.
So I think that’s, those are definitely concepts we can apply to our life in general.
Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to share?
Nadja: No I just encourage everybody to just, you know, try on a small scale and really focus on what you keep and making these decisions. Yeah, It’s simple. It’s not easy but it can really make your life, more enriching.
And as I said, for me, it also transformed a lot of relationships career choices I make. Yeah, it got this whole thing going. That was one of the first roles into then creating a podcast and getting into this topic and the next, and yeah. And also being neuro divergent, right?
You don’t have to pick. And when I shared the slide, like who am I? Before -it’s always like, who am I? Like it needs to be like a one liner and like the HR professional, the tidying expert, and the podcast host. And like, it doesn’t, it’s just so random, but isn’t that, why we are who we are and what makes us so special?
So embrace that and let it also reflect in your space it probably looks like that too.
Aurora: Yeah, it’s so true. And there might be seasons where some things come bring us joy in the moment and then, there’s sometimes we have seasons of different aspects of our lives and we can let it go for a bit and then bring it back.
And obviously with physical stuff you have to decide if you wanna hold onto it or not. But with mental stuff sometimes we can let things go and then let it come back and yeah.
Nadja: And the one final thing that I really learned from my gifted coach is really the information overload.
That’s really a thing. Like I was binge not eating, binge listening to information, binge reading, collecting articles I wanna read in the future. Like I stuffed myself with information. And then she told me, you know, this is like slow food or gourmet food. Treat the information with the same amount of how you would treat food.
And I think that’s, also like for the space, right? Like the more clutter. And I think for gifted or neuro divergent brains, I think we have the capacity to maybe get more information than others. Then, Yeah, creating walls or boundaries. Also starting meditation, even though that was really difficult for me or doing yoga, like some sort of really mental boundaries, mental space.
Yeah. That was really helpful. That I never thought, you know, was important.
Aurora: Yeah. Totally. Well, and on the note about people had mentioned like the concept of body doubling sometimes is helpful having people do things. And I know that there are groups that do that. If anyone, it’s not something that I could organize, but within the group there is the ability for people to create events and I could certainly create a category for that if people were interested in doing that.
It’s one of those things that I find if you find like one other person who’s interested, you can kind of plan together a time that works for the two of the two people and then put it out there for anyone else.
I just wanted to put that out there. If there are people who are interested in saying like, Hey, I’d love to do a body doubling thing. Maybe you set up a time and you’re free to put an event and I can add that as a category or something.
Maybe body doubling slash coworking type topic and then that could be added. So just a thought, something we could definitely do. So let me know if you’re interested in setting that up. Well, thank you so much, Nadia. I’m so glad this worked out. Like I said, it’s so funny, it seems like the ones I almost forget to promote are the ones where we get the most engagement.
Nadja: Thank you for having me. Yeah, and I mean, I call myself a former tidying coach, but if you have questions, please reach out. I’m happy to answer in this space. You are my people, so I’m happy to.
Aurora: Awesome, awesome. Well Thank you guys so much. Thanks for joining us and Thank you Nadia. It was great to have you!