Keeping our home pared-down and organized is important to me for three reasons.
- A cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. The visual distraction leaves me overwhelmed, stifled, and unable to concentrate.
- I want my home to be easy. Easy to clean. Easy to find things. Easy to enjoy.
- The less I own, the more I am able to see, use, and enjoy, what I have.
If you want to create a simple home, where everything has its place, the first thing you must know is it is a mental battle. If you are not in the right mindset to de-clutter or simplify, don’t even start. If you lose focus halfway through, take a break.
I employ a few mental tricks every time I simplify our home.
First, keep a fresh vision in your mind’s eye.
Create a Pinterest home board and study it. What is your personal taste? Why do those rooms inspire you? What is your home’s purpose?
Let me walk you through how this works in my life. These are my Pinterest boards, and you’ll notice I’ve organized them by room, all starting with the title “home,” to make visualizing easier. My personal taste is classic design, light wall colors, quirky lighting, painted furniture, loads of subway tile and open shelves. The rooms inspire me because they feel like a breath of fresh air. My home’s purpose is to be a place of refreshment and security from the busy world. While we don’t often live our ideals and some things may be unrealistic, this gives you a clear vision when you look around your home.
Second, enter your home with the eyes of a visitor.
What is your first impression? What is stealing your peace? What is doable and/or important to change?
This has become more natural for me with practice. For example, my children’s toys can steal my peace. I have no issues with them during the day, but at night I take 4 minutes to throw them into a few bins in the living room and the nursery. Another example? I recently painted our bedroom white (like my Pinterest boards), and the room became so cheery thanks to the light reflecting around the room. Paint is SO doable. Important changes, like organizing our desk, take more thought and research to avoid wasting time, money, or space.
Third, identify your 20%.
The Pareto Principle states we use 20% of our things, 80% of the time.
I always use this technique when editing my husband’s closet (a.k.a. The Saver in our family). Once we set aside the his 20%, it is easier for him to give away items that he doesn’t need anymore. I can also quickly see if something needs replaced or upgraded because of frequent use. The 20% must be easy to access. Items from the 80%, like shorts or sweaters, may need stored in under-bed boxes during the off-season.
Fourth, ask your stuff questions.
- Are you beautiful?
- Are you useful?
- If neither, then give me a good reason to keep you.
- If you were lost would I replace you or be secretly relieved?
- Are you more trouble than you’re worth?
- Do you project shame or guilt across the room? (If yes, get that stuff off your shelf, stat!
I tackle these questions within a physical boundary, like a closet, a drawer, or a room. I sort through each object with this list of questions. I don’t stop until all the stuff has given an accounting, and all offenders have been removed.
Simplification is a process, a lifestyle change, so I’ll be posting more about the way we try to live a pared-down life in the future. What questions do you have? What are your trouble spots for organizing or decluttering? I’d love to start a feature where I problem-solve reader questions!