To Simplify Your Life (and your stuff)... Start Small

The best definition I’ve heard for “disorganization” is Barbara Hemphill’s observation that it is “a series of deferred decisions.” That stack of mail, dishes in the sink, the pile of clothing on the floor, or the backpacks and shoes strewn about the front door are usually things that couldn’t be dealt with in the moment (The baby is crying! Dog needs to be fed! Or I” just want to sit down on the couch and not move for a little bit”…) The problem is, they need to be dealt with eventually, and the longer you wait, the more it’s going to pile up until it feels overwhelming and unmanageable. This is usually the point people are at when they come to me for help. Part of the problem is that we are constantly being inundated with stuff and information. Our inboxes, mailboxes, and laundry baskets are overflowing, and we don’t have the time and energy to do it all. If we could just simplify, and pare down, things would be a lot easier to manage. You don’t have to do it all at once. Here is a series of small habits you can build to start making your life (and your stuff) more manageable. Start with one, and once you’ve mastered that habit, you can begin to introduce more. You might just get hooked!

photo by Social.cut

photo by Social.cut

Control your closet

 Have a dedicated donation box in your closet. Whenever you’re picking out clothes for the day and you come across something you no longer like or wear, toss it in the donation box. Same goes for items around the house. Once a month (it helps if you have a dedicated day, and it’s noted on your calendar) take it to a donation center. Once you get in the habit, you will start to eye your things more critically, and you will get better at letting things go. 

Declutter your inbox

Each time you open your email, unsubscribe from at least one subscription you aren’t interested in. 

Tame your mailbox

Resist the urge to just move your mail from the outdoor mailbox, to a box or surface inside. Each time you touch the mail, take action on at least one thing. This could be immediately recycling any ads/unwanted catalogs, sorting into piles for each family member, or taking everything out of envelopes so they can be assessed later. 

Clear old contacts

Whenever you go to make a call, remove at least one old contact from your phone (if you’ve ever had to deal with online dating, you probably have a bunch of these). 

Clean while you cook

In cooking, there is usually some active cooking time, and then times when you are waiting-waiting for water to boil, for something to cook, etc. Use that down time to throw a few dishes in the dishwasher, or wipe a countertop. If you are cleaning up while you are cooking, you are going to have much less of a mess later when it comes time to do dishes (and you’re feeling satiated and comfortable and don’t want to clean up). Unless someone else is doing the dishes, and in that case, leave all the dishes! Haha, just kidding… kinda…

Multitask your trips 

If you live in a two story house like I do, it can sometimes feel like you’re going up and down the stairs all day long. I like to keep a basket at the top of the stairs, and one at the bottom for items that need to be transferred up or down. At some point when I take the stairs, I bring the items with me and put them away (rather than running up and down with each item throughout the day). This keeps things from accumulating where they don’t belong because of my laziness. 

Start small, and before you know it, things will start to become more manageable. I promise..