The 'Ski Slope Method' of Organizing Is for Anyone Who Feels Overwhelmed by Clutter

In her new book, "Home Therapy," licensed therapist-turned-interior-designer Anita Yokota shares her top home-tidying tips.

When we're overwhelmed, stressed, or grieving, it's natural for our homes to devolve into a state of disarray. How can you worry about washing dishes when it feels like everything is falling apart? But when our homes are filled with clutter, we tend to feel anxious and frazzled. To help break this cycle, we turned to an expert in both psychology and home design. In her new book, Home Therapy, Anita Yokota, a licensed marriage and family therapist turned interior designer, shows how improving our homes can improve our well-being. If you want to feel happier, calmer, or more confident, a thoughtful home design and the right organization systems can help.



In the book, Anita shares some of the tried-and-true techniques that worked for her therapy clients, including the Ski Slope Method of organizing. For anyone who feels stuck at the starting line when it comes to cleaning up, this tidying technique will help get you going. Read on for Anita's guide to the Ski Slope Method, below, then grab a copy of Home Therapy to design your way to a happier home.

From Home Therapy:

As a therapist, when I would go see clients, I could tell when clutter or disorganized emptiness was contributing to the problems they were working through. Their things made them feel blocked and trapped, and I needed to come up with an organizing method that didn’t overwhelm them. After all, these clients were under enormous pressure in their lives, and I needed to make living well easier for them, not harder.

At the same time, I was a new mom, and my kids’ rooms would fill with toys and clutter. It would drive me crazy, but with all the other things I had to do, tidying up was hard to maintain. The fifteen- minutes-a-day cleanup trick felt like a game of whack-a-mole where nothing ever truly felt finished! The massive, overwhelming cleanse wasn’t going to work either because of my tight schedule. With growing girls, I simply couldn’t organize or purge to a place where I never had to tidy. Out of necessity, I slowly began to adopt a new mindset and strategy for straightening up. I now call this the Ski Slope Method.

Cleaning is a mental marathon, and if not for this cognitive trick, I probably would have either thrown everything away or given in to the clutter, but this new method worked! I began to teach this technique to my interior design clients and my therapy clients alike.

The idea is to imagine your messy room like a ski slope. If you try to go straight down, the steep angle feels scary and overwhelming. But if you traverse the slope—skiing from one side to the other—you lessen the angle and make it down the mountain without even noticing. Instead of looking at the room from front to back, look at it from corner to corner.

Start in one corner of the room and tidy it up. When that section is clean, move to the other side of the room, like you would traverse a mountain. Clean that area and move back to the other side as you work your way “down” the room. Once I began teaching this method, I realized that each time I visited my clients, their homes were neater or more organized. And once my clients realized they could tackle rooms in chunks and still get the whole room done, they were able to achieve clean rooms, too. Not knowing where to begin is where many people give up. Using this method, your brain believes you’re going to make it down the slope, so you keep going!

Home Therapy by Anita Yokota, pink book cover with pretty bedroom

Clarkson Potter

Check out Home Therapy for more ways to design your way to more happiness, confidence, and calm.

Excerpted from “Home Therapy” Copyright © 2022 by Anita Yokota. Principle photographs copyright © 2022 by Ali Harper. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

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