Are you ever more polite or kinder to strangers than to the people you live with or even to yourself? Have you ever noticed that we clean and straighten our homes more for company than we clean for ourselves? This fall, in preparation for winter, vow to make your living spaces and storage spaces look like company is coming, but do it for you! Think of it like an airplane incident—put on your own oxygen mask first so that you can help those who are around you.
It doesn’t matter if your space is 400 square feet or 4,000 square feet. It is what you do with what you have that can create peace for you and your family. Manage your home space so that it honors and supports you. Pretend you are looking at your possessions through the eyes of a stranger—as though you are the company coming to your home. You and your loved ones deserve to be treated like you would treat company.
Remember the old rule of thumb: Keep only what is beautiful, useful, or sentimental. Everything has a season—including our stuff! Stuff gets worn out. Stuff fades. Stuff looses its interest to us as our life changes and we move on to stuff that is a better fit for our lives today. This is a normal life process. Weed out for you. Beautify your spaces for you. Creating open spaces creates potential for change. This time, make the effort for you.
Work on getting rid of clutter during your best time of the day. Are you a morning person? Or, do you get your second wind after 10 p.m.? Everyone is different. It can be challenging to make all those clutter clearing decisions, so work in small blocks of time or limited spaces at a time—like one cupboard or drawer per session. Of course, keep working as long as you wish if you find yourself on a roll! Reward yourself when you have accomplished your goal. Getting rid of clutter requires making lots of decisions.
Create calmness in a few minutes in the morning or evening by straightening things up and putting things away. Do this for you. Make it a habit to fold blankets, fluff couch pillows, put things in the dishwasher, and put things away for a few moments before bed or first thing in the morning. A brief amount of straightening can create calmness for everyone in the home and set the mood for the day.
Is an item still useful? Ask yourself why you aren’t using something. Why store it any longer? It eats up space and even thinking about it every time you look at it can drain you a little bit. Don’t spend the time, energy or guilt on these items. Send them on by passing them on to family or friends, selling them, donating them, or recycling them. Create open spaces with potential for you to grow in new directions.
Of course, yes, it is fine to keep things that are sentimental to you—just remember that the memories are in you not your stuff. To help preserve memories, take a photo or write a little in a journal about the memory. Sometimes rather than saving bulky things, it makes more sense to have a photo journal as you pass these things on to others.
Be careful and thorough when you weed out your things. Start with the areas that you and your family use most often. It will be refreshing and encouraging to see and enjoy the immediate improvement. Consider the kitchen, family hangout spot, or an entry or high-traffic area. Don’t forget to clean out the car—many of us spend a lot of time there. Make that car time a pleasant time. You and your loved ones deserve that. Right?
After the car and other prime areas, think about your laundry area—an important area, not for company, but for you and your family. Give yourself permission to let go of fix-it projects that have sat around too long and any other odds and ends. Hang vacation pictures there. Create storage space in your laundry by adding cupboards or shelving above your washer and dryer, and if you can, create an area to fold there.
Do you have electronic clutter too? Don’t forget to weed out your personal phone and laptop or tablet. Create some peace and simplicity by unsubscribing to unwanted emails as they come in over the next few days. Delete emails and create email folders where needed so you are not visually overwhelmed or discouraged when you see your inbox.
While you are at it, think about the garage. After all, you walk through this area every time you exit and enter your home. Don’t get pulled down by any junk that has lingered in the garage! Fall is the time to donate the outgrown toys, unused lumber, and cardboard boxes that have accumulated with time.
Thinking about fall, do clutter control sweeps through all areas of your home. As we prepare for a busy fall, we deserve our “nest” to be uncluttered and nurturing for ourselves and for our loved ones!
Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life, a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips readers may pick and choose from to fit their personal style. She is also a breast cancer and melanoma survivor who wrote Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We’ll get you through this. Her website is http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.