How to Declutter and Organize Your Blog, the Marie Kondo Way

with 4 Comments | Branding
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Love Marie Kondo's decluttering tips and the way this post adapts her methods to blogging is GENIUS.

Are you ready to declutter your blog design and spark joy?

Surely you’ve heard of (and probably even read) Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was such a hit that her surname became a verb. And now, her second book, Spark Joy, is about to send the world into another global decluttering frenzy.

I’ve always felt that my creativity and workflow are conditioned by the amount of visual noise around me. And I genuinely believe that a decluttered work environment (on screen and off screen) is the key to productivity.

Here’s what I’ve learned about tidying up and organizing my blog from the decluttering queen herself.

1 | Does the way your blog looks spark joy?

Marie Kondo’s method revolves around one fundamental question – does it spark joy? Of course, she talks about shirts and grocery receipts, but when you rephrase it and make it about your own blog, it still makes tons of sense.

So how do you know if your blog sparks joy? By simply asking yourself, does my blog make me smile every time it loads in the browser? If your answer is yes, then that’s joy.

But if you cringe even at the thought of that ugly background or you have to strain your eyes to read 12px Arial font, you should discard your old theme and get a new one.

With Marie Kondo’s method, you are only choosing what to keep. And you are supposed to keep only those things that bring you joy.

I’m sure your blog theme was perfect when you first installed it but does it still represent you and your brand? If you’ve outgrown it or felt out of love with it, it’s time for a makeover. That simple.

There truly is no shortage of gorgeous blog themes out there. A good place to start is Angie’s feminine themes. Her designs are light and airy and she makes such great use of white space. And we all know the white space is where the magic happens, right?

Tidying is a dialogue with yourself and a journey of self-discovery. By eliminating the noise you allow yourself to grow. And by understanding your priorities you allow for new opportunities to come into your life.

While you are at it, this is the perfect moment for a rebranding too. Visualize your blog – the colors, the typography, and the mood. How would your blog have to look like to inspire you to wake up one hour earlier than everybody else just so you can write a new post?

You can easily create your brand identity and gain goal clarity by downloading my FREE blog planner here.

2 | Declutter by category, not by location

Marie Kondo warns that if you continue to tidy by location, you’ll be tidying for the rest of your life. Instead, she recommends you tidy by category. Sure, she means old sweaters and socks, but I believe her ideas can apply to all aspects of life, including blogging.

So instead of decluttering your sidebar, top bar navigation, and footer, you should tackle your plugins, blog categories, and old posts, in this order.

You start by discarding, then organize your blog, thoroughly, completely, in one go.

I find it really cute that Marie Kondo treats her old clothes as she would people. She genuinely worries for their well-being. And even when she decides to throw them away, she treats them with kindness, takes them in her hands, and thanks them for their service.

Declutter your plugins first

Let’s start with the inactive plugins. Do you think they are happy? They can’t serve their purpose and they probably feel trapped. Set them free by deleting them.

Now let’s take a look at all the other plugins you have installed. Take them one by one and ask yourself if they still bring you joy (if by deleting a plugin your blog stops working, obviously it’s an essential one and it DOES spark joy, even if you don’t know it. Making your blog impossible to use won’t make you any happier).

If the answer is no, thank that brave little plug-in for all its hard work and set it free. It may no longer fit with your brand, but for a while, it expanded your blog’s functionality with the best of them.

Before you add any new plugin, ask yourself, does this extra functionality spark joy? If it doesn’t, refrain from installing it. The less noise you add to your blog and the lighter the design, the easier it will be for your true personality to shine through.

Reorganize your blog categories and tags next

Many bloggers add their blog categories in the top navigation menu or in the sidebar. But the more options you give the reader the closer you push them towards analysis paralysis and the further from what you want them to actually do.

Only keep the minimum necessary in your the top menu (I believe you should ideally have no more than 3 items) and remove the categories and tag cloud from your sidebar. You can never go wrong with a clean and simple design.

The categories and tags should help the reader navigate your blog.

If your blog were a book, then the categories would be the chapters. The tags, on the other hand, would be the book’s index.

In an ideal world, you would know exactly what topics your blog will cover even before you learn how to start a blog. But in practice, this rarely happens.

So if you’ve been blogging for a few months already, it’s probably time to take a look at your categories and tags to see if they need some decluttering. Say goodbye to categories you’ve only used once or twice.

Using a brainstorming exercise can come in handy. In my blog planning kit, I’ve included a mind-map that you can use to help you visualize your blog’s structure. Your first draft might not be perfect but you will gain greater clarity as you continue tweaking it.

There is no right answer when it comes to the number of categories a blog should have but as a rule of thumb, the fewer, the easier it will be for you to stay focused and on-topic.

Tidy up your drafts and old posts

This is a two folded matter.

Set free your abandoned drafts

First, log into your blog’s dashboard and have a look at all those drafts that have someday as their publication date. In my experience, someday means never and I doubt your experience is much different.

Don’t these drafts look miserable and abandoned? Express your gratitude for teaching you what you don’t like to write about and click the delete button. Free yourself from the burden of feeling the need to finish writing them.

Nurture your old posts every once in a while

One of my favorite productivity tips for bloggers that I’ve mentioned over and over again is that you should get comfortable with publishing stuff that is less than perfect.

This doesn’t mean you should hit publish and COMPLETELY forget about it. Old posts are like old friends. You need to make time to visit them every once in a while.

Rewrite, update, format, add Pinterest-friendly images, and so on. This will not only lower your bounce rate but it’s good for SEO too.

Happy posts, happy readers, happy bots! What else can a blogger ask for, right?

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3 | Use systems so you can blog with minimal effort

I have a confession to make – I have an issue with repetitive tasks! Maybe that’s why Marie Kondo’s book speaks to my heart. She is all about creating a system so your house will stay tidy with minimal effort.

If you were to style the color of your subheaders one by one, you would have to go through all your posts and do it all over again every time you decided to change the hue. But if you add that tiny line of code in a custom CSS file, it will allow for great flexibility and create visual continuity and a consistent user experience.

You shouldn’t declutter your blog one post at a time or you will only add one more thing to your pile of daily chores. When you decide to purge your blog of broken links, for example, you should do it all at once, using a broken link checker.

There are so many great systems that you can use, from decluttering your plugins to using social media automation tools.

As much as I love Pinterest, I really can’t interrupt my workflow every hour to pin. However, with Board Booster I only have to dedicate a couple of hours per month and pin everything at once to a secret board. Board Booster takes it from there, dripping pins for me throughout the month. See? It’s all about working smart, not hard.

Life altering transformation can only be driven by sudden change. If the process is gradual, the same impact can never be achieved. This is why getting into the habit of asking yourself the spark joy question every time you are about to add another gimmick to your blog will keep the design looking minimalistic and professional.

Successful blogging truly begins after you’ve put your blog in order.

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4 Responses

  1. Bren Lee
    | Reply

    Fabulous tips! I like to “declutter” as each season changes. It reminds me to clean out the old, move in the new. Your tips are spot on. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Carol ("Mimi")
    | Reply

    I read Marie Kondo’s book a few years ago, and I’m familiar with her decluttering approach to the home environment. I like the way you adapted that approach to blogging. You give some good tips in this post. Thanks.

  3. By some strange coincidence, only this morning I tidied up unused plugins and plugins I can live without in an attempt to speed up my blog. I plan to do the categories tomorrow – I have just too many options right now.

  4. Arfa Nazeer
    | Reply

    We always want to do more and more which ultimately results in being less productive and organized. Great reminder.


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