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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.