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Showing posts from March, 2019

Declutter Your Fantasy Self

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You are not what you own. Photo by Kirk Thornton on Unsplash "Imagination will take you everywhere," said Albert Einstein, and he was right.  As humans, we're limited in what we know and understand, but imagination transcends all of that. Unfortunately, we tend to bolster our fantasies by buying the props that go with them.  Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less and Lightly , calls this "aspirational stuff."  These are the things we buy to project a certain image, to impress others, or to help ourselves believe we're a certain type of person. I once imagined I was a great home cook, so I decided I needed a shelf full of celebrity cookbooks and drawers full of specialty gadgets.  With a little more imagination I might have decided I needed a professional six burner stove and a Sub-Zero refrigerator too. In reality, I don't enjoy multi-step cooking day after day.  I fix crock pot and one skillet meals, I use certain recipes often,

Spring Cleaning

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The days are longer, the birds are busy, the first buds and leaves have appeared.  Everything is energized and ready to begin, and you notice how heavy, tired, and even grubby your home is. Courtesy of Jon Trefzger Now, you can do deep cleaning and reorganization like your mother and grandmother did, or you can use this opportunity to do several other great things by decluttering. Learn about yourself.   Cleaning and rearranging may cause you to look at each of your possessions, but they don't require that you evaluate them, especially if you're just putting them in boxes and closing the lids.  In contrast, actually removing stuff from your home forces you to decide what is truly important to you.  Control your urge to shop.   A fresh start is wonderful, but do you really need to greet the new season with a trip to the big box décor store?  Maybe paring down will provide the lighter look you crave. Benefit others.  The possessions you rarely use sit on shelves

7 Questions to Ask When Decluttering

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Decluttering is a process, one step on the path toward a simpler, more intentional life. Courtesy of boomercafe.com Less stuff means less maintenance, less cleaning, and less stress.  Removing excess brings you more space, more time, and more energy. Brooke McAlary, author of Slow: Simple Living For a Frantic World , calls clutter "deferred decisions" and "the physical manifestation of procrastination."  But the process of decluttering builds your decision-making ability as you choose what to hold on to and what to remove.  Over time you gain more clarity and confidence about what is important to you. Asking these questions may help: 1.  Have you used this item in the past year?   Do you anticipate a specific use for it in the future (NOT "just in case")?  If not, why are you keeping it? 2.  Is this item something you've kept out of guilt or obligation?   Even if it was a gift, it was your grandmother's, or you spent a lot of mon

6 Ways to Start Decluttering

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Don't panic!  There is no one "right way" to declutter.  Try one of these six entry points: 1.  Start with the most visible. Tackle stuff on counter tops or the floor, for example.  Leave closets and drawers for later.  You'll see obvious results from your decluttering efforts, which will make you feel more confident, energized, and inspired to continue. 2.  Start with one thing that will make your life easier. Are you always searching for your keys?  Put a hook for them near the door, or clear out your purse and designate one pocket for keys. Is the TV remote always buried?  Declutter some throw pillows, clear out a drawer to give it a "home," or clear off the coffee table and place a basket for it there. Do coats, backpacks, and shoes always end up on the kitchen table or strewn across the floor?  Declutter the front closet so there's plenty of room to hang coats, and put up some heavy-duty hooks for backpacks.  Place a basket on the

Declutter Fearlessly

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When someone lives with large amounts of clutter it is often the result of fear. My mother's clutter was organized.  It was neatly packed away in storage containers, all clearly labeled and precisely arranged in every drawer, cupboard, closet, garage rafter area, and shed.  She could always find what she was looking for, even if piles and bins had to be shifted in order to get to it. Mama would never have called herself a hoarder.  Her house was extremely clean and didn't look cluttered.  There were dozens of magazines in the family room, but they were in a magazine rack.  The books were on shelves.  The games were stowed in cupboards. Three sets of "everyday" dishes were stacked on clever racks in the kitchen cupboards, and the "good" china had its own cabinet, with bowls, platters, and pitchers carefully displayed.  Yet we had dinner guests only a few times a year. The linen closet held perfect piles of sheets and color-coordinat

9 Ways to Stop Buying So Much

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Want to reduce clutter and gain financial freedom?  Stop buying so much. Copyright CORBIS Spend less than you earn. That's it.  The most important financial advice you'll ever receive. If you cut back on spending, you'll be able to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, start saving for college or retirement, give more generously.  Spending less could reduce your stress levels and improve your sleep.  It might even improve your marriage. Spend less enables us to do all of that.  But in a country where 78% of us live paycheck-to-paycheck and the average American has $6,929 of credit card debt , the message to spend less is clearly not getting through. Maybe it's a difficult step to take because the idea sounds unattractive to so many.  Buying less sounds like taking a step backward in life.  In a culture where success is often measured in terms of material possessions, spending less sounds boring, old-fashioned, and destined for ridicule. I own a lot

Don't Kondo Your Home

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Marie Kondo had a brilliant insight when she realized that if we declutter by category, rather than by location, we're able to grasp the overall volume of our belongings.  Generally speaking, once we make a pile of all of our clothes, all of our books, all of our kitchen items, or all of our hobby stuff, we're astounded by how much we own, a realization that may make it far easier for us to declutter what is no longer useful or appropriate.  I agree with Kondo that recognizing what truly adds value to our lives is an essential perception. But I think that Kondo's method has a flaw. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has sold millions of copies, yet it seems many people are just as engulfed by clutter as ever.  People are still buying tons of stuff they don't need, and lots of "storage solutions" to try and organize all of it.  People talk about decluttering, but how many are getting decluttered and staying that way? Maybe the problem is the que

One Way to Tidy Up

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Storage experts are hoarders. Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , is intended to help people do more than clean and organize.  Declaring that "storage experts are hoarders," she advocates a one-time process of mindful decluttering.  Her clients end up surrounded entirely by things that enhance their lives, unburdened by stuff that is unwanted or unused.  Even her book, she says, should be passed along when it's no longer needed. Instead of decluttering room by room, Kondo tackles belongings by category, beginning with what she believes is easiest to part with.  Clothes, then books, documents, miscellany (including kitchen items, linens, and décor), and last and most difficult, photos and mementos.  The process of making a decision about each item gets easier with all this practice. Your mindset during this process is important.  Kondo explains: Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness.  Why?  Because we

The Truth About Clutter

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Clutter isn't cute. Clutter is something we laugh about, like our coffee or sugar addictions, our over-use of social media, or our binge-watching habits.  But none of those are actually funny, and for many of us clutter is much more serious than a couple of piles on the kitchen counter. Clutter lies to you.  Clutter tells you "It's not that big a deal" and "You'll get to it later."  But the piles grow.  And so many people just accept defeat in their homes and in how they live and enjoy life. We make excuses like "I'm just so busy" or "I'm just not organized."  But excuses aren't solutions.  Trying to make it cute, saying "I'm such a clutterbug," just lets you live with defeat. As a kid, I got used to having a lot of clutter neatly packed away in beautiful storage containers, nicely labeled, so it was clear which bin held which objects.  I would regularly go through my closets and drawer