Tidying takes off under Covid-19: Organising hobbies gives more time to enjoy them

Certified KonMari consultant Esther Tan.
Certified KonMari consultant Esther Tan.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Much as pandemic hobbies are a way to destress and relax, they can also be a source of clutter and stress at home.

Certified KonMari consultant Esther Tan, 28, recounts how a client let her penchant for baking and bento-making take over her kitchen.

The client used to move all her cooking appliances - toaster, rice cooker and air fryer - from the kitchen counter to the dining room to make room for baking. Family dinners were confined to half the dining table.

Enter Ms Tan, who helped uncover underused kitchen space to store some of these appliances.

In similar fashion, a drawer was set aside to organise all the client's bento-box paraphernalia - toothpicks, seaweed cutters, decorative plastic "grass" and tiny sauce bottles.

This helped increase counter space, reduce clutter and restore order in the house.

"Not having a clear idea of what you have translates into more money spent buying things which you may already have. Making hobbies more accessible also gives you more time to enjoy them," says Ms Tan.

The organisation consultant founded her business, Your Tidy Half, last year after taking the KonMari training and certification course online.

She is married to a 31-year-old sales manager and works full time as an executive assistant and office manager. She works with her KonMari clients on weekends, charging $70 an hour for consultations.

Having worked in the hospitality industry before, she is drawn to "calm and inviting" spaces like hotel lobbies, and likens hiring a KonMari consultant to streamline the home to engaging the services of a personal trainer.

With more people squashed in at home for longer periods of time during the pandemic, she notes it can be challenging to reorganise a shared space.

Ms Tan says: "Some people make do with the space they are in, especially if they live with their parents.


ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"While you can't take over someone else's space and apply the KonMari Method for other people, I have had clients do their own room and it works even though it's a small space."

One such client rearranged her work-from-home set-up and even demarcated an area with cushions for guests to come over to hang out in her room.

Ms Sharon Chan, who engaged Ms Tan's services last year, found the KonMari process akin to "a love-hate relationship".

The 38-year-old charity sector manager says: "The first emotion I felt was vulnerability."

She felt this while sorting her items by categories, including her clothes and undergarments, in the presence of someone else.

It was also hard work to think where each item should belong. But her efforts paid off. Things no longer threaten to fall on her when she enters her storeroom. Even her two-year-old son knows where his building blocks are stored.

"It's liberating to know exactly where your items are, and how many of them you have," says Ms Chan, who is married to a 40-year-old tuition agency operations manager. The couple also have a five-year-old daughter.

These days, she succumbs less to the lure of buying cheap and cheerful things from Daiso, and questions if she needs something when it catches her eye.

"The whole journey has prompted me to buy fewer things, be less consumerist and enjoy the things we already have," she says.

Tidying tip

Think seriously about what you want to do with a space. Consider, for example, whether working from the dining table is a temporary set-up or something that has become permanent.