Improve Your Day-to-Day (Minimalist Challenges Part 4)

My two young grandsons recently came for an overnight visit.  I love the fact that they're excited to come.  I love the fact that they consider my guest bedroom "their" room.  And I love their energy and imagination.  But within minutes my small apartment was covered in toys.  And I don't even have that many!  The blocks, Legos, wooden train set, vehicles, and even the books spread throughout the bedroom, down the hall, and into the living room.  Crayons and paper took over the dining table, and then Elliot (age 6) wanted to play Catan Junior,* a wonderful game with about 200 small pieces.

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assorted beauty supplies

The heaviness of clutter

There's nothing wrong with a little creative chaos.  And at bedtime, it doesn't take long to put a few toys where they belong.  My home is usually clutter-free, so the toys (or my scrapbooking, or my husband's school work) are only temporary messes.

But in a home with tens of thousands of belongings (studies say that the average American home contains 300,000), it's not so easy to manage.  Toys on the floor are only part of the mayhem, and it can feel overwhelming.

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A cluttered environment makes every task harder.  Simply maneuvering around all of the extras takes time and energy you don't always have.  You're constantly searching for things you need, or moving things aside to make room for other things.

Clutter is heavy.  It casts a shadow, even if it's hidden in the basement or behind closed doors.  And it's not only physical clutter that makes life difficult.

Related article:  The Truth About Clutter

Gain immediate peace and pleasure by streamlining daily tasks.

If I neglect my email for a few days it can be overwhelming to open the inbox, and not just because of legitimate business or personal messages that need action or a reply.  Add in the unnecessary Facebook and LinkedIn notifications and promotional emails from companies I once did business with, and the whole thing can be such a crowded mess I don't feel like dealing with it.

Not that ignoring it makes life easier.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project,* points out that "what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while."  A small bad habit can create a lot of confusion and anxiety, while an equally small good habit can bring efficiency and relief.  We could make our daily lives so much simpler!

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Thirty-minute Minimalist Challenges #10-12

10.  Clear out your email inbox.

Start by deleting anything more than a month old.  Then unsubscribe and delete what you can, including all shopping sites.  Rethink your notification settings on apps and social media to reduce unnecessary messages.  Take action on the rest by replying in five sentences or less, noting appointments on your calendar, archiving in folders, or adding to your to-do list.  Do this every time you open mail.

11.  Clear kitchen surfaces.

We use our kitchens multiple times each day, so kitchen clutter has a huge impact.  We can make prepping, cooking, and cleaning far easier and more enjoyable by clearing the counters so they're ready for use.

The things we keep on the counter are the things we use most often, but we may be forfeiting valuable cupboard space to things we use rarely, if at all.  Do you have dusty appliances or serving pieces shoved way in the back?  You might need the cupboard space more than you need the items, so donate or sell them to make room for the things you like to use that currently crowd your countertop.

Are you worried this will be inefficient?  Maybe you use your blender most mornings, but only for a few minutes at a time.  Why should it hog counter space all day every day?  My blender lives in the cupboard; it takes a few seconds to get it out and plug it in when I want a smoothie.

Clear your cupboards and drawers of things you never use, and put the items you need out of sight but still easily accessible.

12.  Simplify your beauty routine.

First go through your makeup bag or drawers, take everything out, and dump what you don't use, even if you paid a lot for it.  Then consider these questions:  

  • Do you really need and use the eight-step skin care routine, or can you pare down to one cleanser and one moisturizer?
  • Can you leave off polish and simply file and buff your nails?
  • Do you spend a lot of time under stage lights, or can you go for a more natural look by using only five or six (or fewer) makeup products?

Subscribe to receive my free printable

The Declutter Dare

and declutter 100 items (or more) in just one hour!


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