Outer order contributes to inner calm. -Gretchen Rubin
Having spent more time at home during the cold winter months, we’ve accumulated and now feel overwhelmed by the “extra stuff”. Maybe simplifying was one of your new year’s goals too, and January and February were trial months : )
Though ideally you may want to purge all drawers and closets, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the mess, I’d suggest to start by clearing off just one surface! Clearing off surfaces can drastically change the entire room. Cluttered tables and counters feel disorganized, and it affects how you use that space. Streamlining surfaces is a manageable and tangible goal that can give you a sense of accomplishment right away. I always aim to maintain an atmosphere of peace and hospitality in our home, and with cleared surfaces, our home most often looks clean. Less stuff means less mess- always.
The first step to streamlining surfaces is to communicate with your family how the problem affects everyone, and how the solution will improve the flow and use of the surface and really the whole room. Identify your clutter-free zones and state it as that. Remember that it’s a work in progress because each family member needs to learn to manage their own things and their own habits.
The second step to clearing surfaces is to find/create a home for things. Over the years, I’ve noticed that I usually keep more papers than I will ever do something with (the orthodontist’s card, the window replacement ad, department store sale flyer). If you’re hesitant about the excess paper, put it away for now. Add them all to a paper bag, a shoe box, a folder and look through it while you’re watching a show. Sometimes putting it away for a couple of weeks allows me to be more subjective and realistic about the clutter (mailers/catalogs/flyers/ads).
The third step to decluttering surfaces is to take a look at your most problematic area (kitchen island, dinning room table, etc.) and identify the things that don’t belong: bills to pay, incoming mail, magazines, homework that’s waiting to be graded. Paper-clutter bogs us down like no other kind of clutter, so group the same things and find them a home!
The fourth step is to use what you have for storage or organization. Going to the store and buying an all new storage system maybe counter-productive. Sometimes decluttering and purging opens up bins or storage boxes that can now find a new use. A huge clutter problem for most readers that I hear from is kids’ papers/crafts/art. This hanging line has been a life-saver for all of the art that the children wish to see displayed. It gets it off the table and provides a perfect spot for everyone to enjoy. When they make new pictures and paintings, we have this sturdy container where I file only the favorites. Each child has a folder, and the papers all have name and date on the backside, which simplifies the filing and brings us all so much joy when we pull them out years later.
Less stuff means less mess, but understanding that there is an amount of material belongings that are bottom-line necessary when having a large family and schooling in the home is something Nathan reminds me of often. Be encouraged and embrace this season of life! We’re always creating new ways and systems to make our homes comfortable, welcoming, and peaceful.
I’ve experienced that streamlining one surface often gets the ball rolling for more decluttering. Even so, if one surface is enough for the day, then at least you’ll be pleased to have one spot where your eyes can rest.
Better blogs for simplifying and organizing:
with love. Damaris