Describing herself as the love child of MacGyver and Martha Stewart Jojoebi is here to help! Jo Ebisujima a passionate, unorthodox, creative author and entrepreneur who helps busy mamas get their sh!t together. Using her kaizen (a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.) method she sets moms up for success every time. I was instantly drawn to Jo’s philosophy being a fellow Montessori Mum and always on the look out for tips and strategies to help with household organisation and decluttering. I sat down with Jo this week to try and untangle the clutter! She runs several successful programs including the In With A Boom Mastermind, Montessori Crash Course and Clear The Clutter.
What was the path you travelled to find this way of living?
Being tidy isn’t something that comes naturally. I’m a creative person and when I’m in a creative process I’m extremely messy – which is a rather big chunk of my time! BUT I also found that I actually feel stressed out when I’m not organised. Disorganised and messy are two different things. So by getting the house organized I found I was less stressed and the knock on effect was there was less cleaning – another thing I hate doing, cleaning!
I also discovered Montessori when my son was born and one of the things that I liked about the philosophy was having a beautiful environment to raise a child in. And living in a tiny apartment at the time meant that I really had to be on top of everything.
What benefits does your family receive because of your organisation skills?
We have very few fights or bickering, everyone knows where everything lives and these days when someone uses say the scissors, they automatically put them away afterwards. It took a while for us all to get into the habit of doing it but now it’s automatic. No more tearing the house apart trying to find things.
If readers out there are interested in transitioning their home to reduce clutter, set up systems and get organised what steps would you suggest they take first?
Many of the moms I work with over-estimate the amount of clutter they have gathered and forget that it has taken years usually to get to the point that they are at. So setting realistic goals is important. Doing things like decluttering 30 bags in 30 days is a great start, it’s like doing a 3 day detox to kick of a diet but it doesn’t actually fix the problems.
You need to address why the clutter is coming in, and how to break those habits. I teach my clients to use a kaizen (a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.) method, breaking it all down into baby steps, not only to get rid of what they have already accumulated but also to break the habits to stop it happening again in the future. We all have different stories and reasons for letting the clutter build up so pinpointing the issues are where the breakthroughs happen. Are you a impulsing shopper? Do you keep things ‘just in case?’ Have you grown up with the believe that it is irresponsible to throw things away? Start asking yourself WHY all the time.
What are your top tips, for busy parents, for getting organised?
- Make it easy! Kids will ALWAYS take the easy route so as you set up the kids playroom/bedroom get down to their level and see how it feels for them to use what you are setting up. Observe them when they are taking things out and putting away, something like having a toy box with a heavy lid is enough to put the child off putting their toys away.
- Having everything at child height, again, making it easy for them.
- Rotate toys so you don’t have everything out at once, this way you will also get to see what is and isn’t being played with (allowing you to remove any unplayed with toys)
What are some simple ideas, for getting your kids interested in helping out, with keeping the house tidy and organised?
Toddlers go through a sensitive period where organisation is important to them, you will see them line up toys or throw a tantrum if something is out of place, being aware that this is a developmental stage is important as it is a great time to capitalize on it, get them helping with tidying up and putting away ‘mommy’s little helper!’
Even if you have missed this stage it is still possible to get kids on side. You have to lead by example though, you can’t expect your kids to tidy their rooms and keep them tidy if your own is a pig sty.
Again, making things easy, keep similar toys together rather than throwing everything into one big toy box. Have toy cars in one box, play food in another etc. It is easy for kids to feel overwhelmed when it comes to cleaning up, so if they can pick up one thing and put it where it belongs , it breaks down the overwhelm.
Make it a habit, have certain times of day to clean up and put on some clean up music. Consistency is the key, give it a fun name and stick to it every day. Speed cleaning before bath time is used in our house!
Also foster the idea that it isn’t your house, it is everyone’s home and everyone has responsibilities. No one has “chores” in our home, because who on earth wants to do chores? We all have jobs and no one gets paid for them. My son can earn pocket money but those jobs are extra, not his family jobs.
How does being organised help make meal preparation stress free?
Meal planning on a Sunday means that once the plan is up, I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner for the rest of the week. I just check the plan first thing in the morning to make sure I have taken meat out of the freezer or whatever and that’s it. I have a clear brain to think about other things.
I know a lot of people are resistant to meal planning but the clients that I work with that finally give in and stick to it now admit that they should have done it earlier. There are many different ways of doing a meal plan, if you have tried it in the past and it didn’t work for you, try another method.
How does being organised help you to eat healthier and waste less food?
A lot of this ties in with meal planning, when you plan your meals you get better at shopping and don’t buy ingredients that you use once and don’t finish – which ends up with it going out of date. You are also much less likely to open the fridge and just chuck stuff together which can result in unhealthy choices or opening the fridge and realising there isn’t anything for dinner so you end up ordering take-out.
I run a kitchen bootcamp each March and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of food that is wasted because it’s hidden in the back of the pantry or years out of date.
What are your top tips for organised grocery shopping?
Keep a whiteboard or similar in the kitchen so you can add things for the shopping list as soon as you realise you are running low, rather than waiting until you have run out. And make a list of what you actually need to cut down on random impulse purchases when you get to the shops.
What are your top tips for meal planning?
For me, meals have to be quick to prepare and clean up, nutritious and everyone likes it. I have an evernote file with about 40 tried, tested and loved recipes so they are my go to recipes but I also like to try new recipes so I am for one new recipe a week, to mix things up.
And finding a way to meal plan that suits you. I do the shopping at the weekend then plan what we are going to eat depending on what I have bought. Japan is very seasonal when it comes to food and the fresh food the prices fluctuate insanely, I gave up writing a plan then going shopping because I wouldn’t be able to get key ingredients or the prices have doubled since the previous week.
I am currently developing my first online programme, which will focus on teaching people to get confident with a suite of recipes they can adjust to their own tastes and adapt to their local produce available seasonally. How do you get inspired to prepare a meal?
I’m a big Jamie Oliver fan and subscribe to his magazine so often new recipes come from there but being in Japan I can’t always get what is needed or I’d have to sell my right kidney to afford a specific ingredient. I often adapt it to what I can get my hands on, most of the time it turns out well, you just have to try it and see!
Luckily my son loves food, he loves getting in the kitchen and trying new things. He even started his own YouTube channel (Taste Tests Ebi-kun Eats) so we are always on the lookout for new things to try.
What is the next exciting project that Jojoebi will be sharing with the world?
Clear The Clutter is still going strong and anyone interested can find out more here.
In September I will be running another round of In With A Boom Mastermind which is for entrepreneurs who need some extra support and accountability. It’s 90 days of knuckling down and getting stuff done, moving your business forward and getting out of overwhelm and fear. Anyone who is interested can get on the ‘First To Know’ list.
Jo has shared a great recipe here that she received in a culture swap. It’s great because the kids can do it themselves.
- 2 oranges
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Peel the oranges and remove the pith.
- Pull apart, into segments.
- Chop into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl.
- Measure out the honey and cinnamon into a bowl and mix together.
- Spoon over the oranges.