Organize And Declutter Your Home To Transform Your Life!
Can everyone learn to organize and declutter their home? Even those of us who dwell a bit more in the right hemisphere of our brains? The ones who need to have everything visible, lest we fear losing it? Literally, and physically??? Or are only the more left-brained types, and those with some special organizing gene equipped to live a clutter-free life?
I recently finished reading Real Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes-A-Day, by Cassandra Aarssen, which I reviewed here. While I have been known over the years to be overcome by a strong need to tear apart areas of my living spaces, make a huge mess while sorting and purging, then reassemble it, cleaner looking than when I began, I still had not yet honed my inner-organizer skills.
Aarssen's book offered some tips and solutions that made a lot of sense to me, and fit my criteria of being seemingly simple to implement.
I agree with Aarssen when she states that learning to organize and declutter your home can really transform and energize your life.
Welcome to my adventures in learning how to organize and declutter my own life, even while living in small apartments with minimal storage. Even as a right-brain, harmonizer butterfly/bee clutterbug type ~ living on a budget.
Can getting organized, and having a clean living space really help you manifest your bigger dreams?
Begin by thinking about your bigger picture desires.
Realize that anywhere flow is blocked - in your body, mind, or home - progress will be stalled.
Strive to maintain clutter-free internal and external environments to become a true Strong Spirit Woman, and make the most of this lifetime.
I have had a secret dream to own a home on a piece of land for many years. In my vision, my home has a nice, welcoming feel. A cozy sanctuary and retreat from the 'civilized' world, where all who enter can immediately feel at peace. A place to unwind, feel inspired to create, and find a cozy nook to read a book, journal, and rejuvenate. A place that nourishes the body, mind, and soul.
Of course in my imagination, my home has a nice zen-ish feel. Having a magazine picture worthy stylish kitchen and living room with clean lines, and tiny pops of color seems almost symbolic of what many people pine after ~ a clean and clutter-free environment that for many of us seems always just out of reach.
After all, a cluttered, unclean home is not very relaxing or inviting.
However, I began to think that having a zen style was more of a pipe dream. Knowing how my environments always tend to look, I began to believe I was somehow not wired to maintain a zen home environment, no matter how many times I attempted to organize and declutter my various living spaces.
Then again, maybe I am just not the zen type, and need to honor who I am, rather than try to fit into someone else's box ~ especially any type of box that is heavily marketed to us as the ideal. After all, one of my own main life themes has been to learn to trust my true nature, as I also hope to inspire with this site.
|Plenty of greenery around ~ and on top of ~ these homes. Photo courtesy of Pexels.com.
What a clean, organized, de-cluttered kitchen can look like! Bright and airy with those windows! Photo courtesy of Pexels.com.
With the help of a couple of books, I have been learning how to best organize and declutter for my particular style and needs. Organizing For Your Brain Type: Finding Your Own Solution to Managing Time, Paper, and Stuff, by Lanna Nakone, which I initially read several years ago was the first book about organizing that assured me that even though typical organizing systems designed for left-brain types don't work for me, I could create systems that did.
Just as it is important to discover what a healthy diet looks like for you, so to is this true for implementing the best strategies to help you organize and declutter your living spaces in the most effective ways for your unique style and needs.
Aarssen's book, Real Life Organizing has provided many great suggestions for actually maintaining a clean and clutter-free home environment that as she writes, practically maintains itself.
As I wrote on the home page for Strong Spirit Woman, I believe maintaining our homes is a sacred act. Dare I say it is a natural and divine feminine desire to create a beautiful nest for ourselves and our family. However, both men and women alike will benefit from maintaining a clean, organized, and (relatively) clutter-free home space.
Plus, it really can transform your life. I personally feel more focused, clear, and energized. And, despite dreaming about finding our next ideal home space, and being able to own a piece of land surrounded by trees, lush plant life and natural beauty in a much more rural or small town setting, I now have greater pride in our one-bedroom, upstairs apartment here in this big 'civilized' city in the desert.
Here are some before and after my weekend mission to organize and declutter our 'office zone' in our small, one-bedroom apartment ~ with little storage and a minimal budget.
Here are some steps to help you organize and declutter, gleaned from Real Life Organizing, along with tidbits I've already been in the habit of doing.
Another good resource I found recently is The Survival Mom site, with lots of good information and resources, including The Survival Mom's Mini Guide to Declutter and Organize Your Living Space.
- First look around your home, and determine your trouble areas where clutter happens.
- Start with one little zone at a time. Aarssen recommends beginning with the area that causes you the most angst every day.
- Decide how you want to use that space.
- Create a master list of tasks that can be broken down into 1-15 minute projects.
- When ready to begin, have a few tools handy. I like to have a paper bag or box when sorting through paper stuff ~ my biggest trouble zone ~ for recycling, and a separate container for trash. You may want to make sure you have some water, tea and even snacks handy if it will help! Set a timer if needed to avoid burnout.
- The next step is to Sort and Purge (remember SPACE!)
- Try to quickly sort out trash and recycling, separating papers out that you need to keep. You may try sorting those into separate piles/files for bills that need to be paid, papers that need to be filed, and receipts that need to be recorded. I do not have a hanging / vertical file yet, so I found an empty red file holder to place in a wire basket on top to catch my important papers to file. I like using decorative baskets made out of natural, earthy materials like those shown below, for things to read, such as professional journals, and any magazines, catalogs, etc..
- A good way to keep clutter under control is to keep subscriptions to magazines, catalogs, etc. to a MINIMUM. Only order what you will truly read and enjoy!
- Dust and/or clean, then Assign everything to an area, Contain it, then Evaluate. (SPACE = SORT, PURGE, ASSIGN, CONTAIN, EVALUATE.)
- Use jars for sorting office stuff, putting colored pencils or markers all together in one, pens in another, paper clips in yet another, etc.
- If you have a lot of pads for notes, and other stationary supplies, keep only what you may realistically use, than recycle or donate extras. Who doesn't get all those cards, pads, and calendars in the mail from organizations looking for donations?
It's not my dream home or furnishings, but it works for now. Like things are all together, and basically most of what you see here, aside from wicker baskets, was found, or free. The less attached I am, the easier to let go before we (eventually) relocate.
This is part of our 'landing zone' ~ by default. I have a pewter dish that works perfectly for my keys to land. They go there immediately upon entering our apartment, and taking my shoes off. My packs often land here too for lack of a better area.
I feel more at ease just looking at this picture than the other two! I made a simple switch, pulling up the smaller wooden crate that had all my empty note pads on top, and a bigger crate w/ various notebooks underneath. I'm always journalling, goal-setting, etc., so these misc. papers tend to often need my attention to organize and declutter.
When you are ready to take on the great adventure to organize and declutter your home, remind yourself of your goals. Tell yourself you are capable of, and worthy of living in a pleasant space, no matter how small, or tight your budget may be.
The real magic is in making lists of tasks, deciding what needs to be done daily versus weekly, or seasonally, then writing it out in some form you will use ~ paper, or online.
Cassandra has many forms you will have access to after purchasing her book at her website, clutterbug.me.
Write out your daily cleaning tasks, then do them! Fifteen minutes-a-day in the evening, and a few minutes or so in the morning can help you maintain a clean, organized, clutter-free home!
Finding a workable system to organize and declutter paper stuff is especially challenging for me, and I suspect many. Because of all my schooling, I have a lot of paper work, school notes and note books, books, certificates, licenses to maintain, etc..
Not being able to appropriately process and manage mail and bills can lead to excess unnecessary stress, especially when bills are lost and not paid on time. One way to reduce this type of clutter is to sign up for online, paper-less banking.
For myself, I absolutely need to have the right container to catch incoming bills that we were not able to set up online as automatic payments.
If I just bring all my mail home, and it all ends up in the same pile or basket, it's nearly as good as forgotten. It needs to be separated right when it comes in the door. Ideally, I'll open it and recycle the junk right away.
As they say, handle it once.
I also don't have good filing follow-up. (That requires opening a file cabinet, and shuffling through folders.)
Papers that I am saving, such as statements, need to land in their own zone, with other non-related papers or magazines in their own zone. Since we own a business, receipts need to be collected until they can be logged, lest all those little pieces of paper get lost and forgotten.
Being primarily the butterfly clutterbug type, having pretty containers to catch it all helps. When things have a home, they will more likely be put in their rightful place all the time ~ especially if it is EASY to do so. This will enable your home and work spaces to remain more organized and clutter-free.
I'm a big fan of wicker, raton, canvas, and jute. I way prefer natural materials to plastic, and do my best to find things locally that are not imported, although that is not always an option.
Here are a few that I love. See what you think. Any shopping you do once you click through my links helps me out quite a bit, and is much appreciated!
Organize and declutter to transform your life, and realize your genuine, deeply felt desires.
Align with your true nature, and flex the muscles of your inner-organizer.
Cleaning your space is part of your responsibility as steward and queen of your domain ~ both your physical home, and the earth upon which it sits. A Strong Spirt Woman embraces this ~ gratefully ~ as it is a blessing to be here. Let your mess remind you of all that you have to be grateful for!
The way to transform your life is by committing to your list of items to do each morning and evening. This has been the most empowering part for me. I have instinctively had urges to organize and declutter throughout my life. I would tear apart an area, have my stuff all sprawled out everywhere (as I did when I decluttered my photos), then put it all back together.
I have always had a knack for organizing and decluttering certain areas of my home, especially the kitchen. The difficult part for me was maintaining my new found organization, and sticking to a more regular and consistent process of managing incoming papers, and keeping our home space more clean and clutter-free.
After reading Aarssen's book, I can see where I fell short. First off, I didn't always have the right containers to best organize and contain my stuff! And, it is always easy to 'get lazy' and not put all the dishes away, clean the counters, or do a quick tidying up at the end of the day when you are really tired!
But, since writing out my lists of 'to-dos' I have created a new habit of making sure I go through my daily tasks, whether in the morning or evening before bed. It has been really great to come home to our clean, clutter-free apartment every day this past week since implementing Aarssen's cleaning and organizing strategies.
Once you get in the habit of doing at least a little cleaning daily, and spend time doing some time to organize and declutter on a regular basis, you will feel more organized, which builds confidence. It creates space for greater flow and new things to enter your life.
You will spend so much less time looking for lost items as well, especially once you create a landing zone for important items, like your keys, wallet, and important papers.