Today we have a post by our sweet contributor, Jenny from The Sweet Stuff:
The new year, a fresh start.
This is the time of year we set goals and strive to create new habits. Sometimes, these goals can seem insurmountable and the pressure to meet them becomes too much, causing us to give up completely.
Many people, myself included, resolve to organize and to minimalize their things in order to live more streamlined and uncluttered lives. However, the task of organizing cluttered closets and drawers or of purging cabinets, storage units, or garages is a large one. One that can burn us out if we attempt to accomplish it all at once.
I’ve spent the last five years living in 816 square feet. At first, it was my husband, our newborn daughter and myself. Eighteen months later another daughter joined. Two years after that, yet another daughter and in less than six months a fourth child will join us in our small dwelling. With less than 164 square feet per person, and even less once the newest member arrives, we have learned many lessons about purging, organizing, and using our space well.
The predominant lesson I have learned is this: Purging is a lifestyle, not a one-time event.
When I sit down and think about all the areas in our small home that could be better organized, that I need to sift through, or that I should rearrange, it overwhelms me to the point where I do not even want to begin. With three small children running around, I don’t have large chunks of time to drag everything out of the linen closet to reorganize. Thus, a lifestyle of purging was born. Here are some of my tips for living a lifestyle of purging and organizing that will lead to a less cluttered home and a more streamlined life:
1. Purge as you go.
I don’t always have time to go through my entire wardrobe to remove no longer worn or loved items. So, instead, when I am putting laundry away, if I notice a shirt that no longer fits or a stained item, I’ll toss it aside. I may spend an extra few minutes thumbing through my closet and pulling out a few items I no longer wear. I throw it all in a bag and set it aside in the garage or a corner until I have a large enough bag to take it to a donation center. This same technique can be used for many items in your home: linen, dishes, books, etc. As you are using these items, spend an extra few minutes looking at them and removing what you no longer need, use, or want. Add it to the pile, and once you have enough you can take it to your local donation center.
2. Organize in stages.
It is true that is feels satisfying to organize an entire room or to redo a closet as a weekend project, but this is not always plausible. Instead, focus on one shelf or closet at a time. The nice thing is, you don’t even have to set aside time for this. Did you just wash a load of dishes? Then half of them aren’t even in the cabinets! This is a great time to rearrange the plates or mugs to utilize the space better. Rearrange one drawer in your bathroom as you brush your teeth. Alphabetize one shelf of books while watching your favorite show in the evening.
3. Let it Go.
Develop a habit of letting go. Don’t try to throw away all of your possessions in one fell swoop. This can be emotionally difficult and you may end of refilling those spaces with new things. Instead, let go of things slowly. That vase you’ve had forever that you suddenly look at and realize you don’t even really like? Let it go! That book you read three years ago and enjoyed, but don’t plan on re-reading? Let it go! Step by step you will realize that it didn’t hurt to lose those things and that you don’t even miss them. That will make it easier the next time you attempt to say goodbye to a possession. Over time you will find it much easier to let go of things that aren’t adding value to your life.
You may not end up with a perfectly organized and minimalized home by the end of January with this method, but at the end of the year you will have less stuff, more organization, and more freedom from things. More importantly, you will have cultivated a lifestyle of purging, organizing, and letting go. This lifestyle will continue on, rather than existing merely as a flash fad. This will allow you to maintain an organized home and a simpler lifestyle. This will keep those things from piling up again and that shelf from becoming cluttered yet again.
This new year, don’t pressure yourself to achieve a monumental goal in a short period of time. Simply resolve to begin, however small, and change will come.
Jenny is a wanna-be homesteader living in California with her husband, 3 daughters (and a baby on the way). She enjoys raising suburban chickens, baking bread, homeschooling her children, and adventuring in the outdoors. Her family is committed to living small in square footage, but living large and full lives!