Organized chaos. It's the way I often describe my life. Work, kids, errands, family, fun, chores—I am sure you can relate. From an outsiders perspective it may look like I have it all figured out, but pull the curtain back and step inside my office or house and your opinion may change. Clutter is the way my husband describes it, I say it's a reflection of a space well lived. But truth be told, it bothers me too. I often find myself overwhelmed with the piles and the sheer idea of needing to figure out what to do with all of our stuff. But I am committed to make a change.
About a year ago I found myself on a minimalism blog which discussed how owning less can bring you more free time and happiness. Having less stuff meant you had to do less with it. Less clothes equaled less laundry. Less mail meant less time sorting it. Less impulse buys equaled fewer weekend trips to make returns (this was a big one for me). Less of all these things equaled one big thing that I am constantly searching for: less stress and more time with my family.
It's no secret that two children and a full time job has made me desperately seek out ways to maximize the short hours we have together each week. I’ve contemplated being a staying at home mom. I thought a new position at work might be the answer, or maybe even a complete career change would do the trick, but these decisions don't happen overnight. So in the midst of my journey to develop a recipe for this “special sauce” (as my husband and calls it) of work life balance, I was passing on some opportunities that could help provide a little more time for giggles.
I have to say upfront that I have just started down this path so I am by no means an expert! In fact, writing this is a step for me to further commit. Here are some steps that I have embraced so far:
1) Take a new approach to shopping. Whether it's for clothes, shoes, or food I stop and think about if I really NEED it or LOVE it. Less clothes equal less time cleaning, folding and putting them away and more time to play. Buying only what you need prevents you from throwing away spoiled food and clothes that never get worn (not to mention the cha-ching you'll be keeping). This approach also helped to break up my relationship with returns(seriously it was out of control the amount of things I would buy and return).
2) Sort Mail on a daily basis. It helps get junk mail in the trash and off our counter, and ithas helped critical mail get responded to faster because it is not sitting at the bottom of apile in the kitchen. I admit I need to embrace this with my email. Hey at least I'm admitting it!
3) Put things away as soon as you are done with them. This includes doing the dishes, enforcing “clean up, clean up everybody everywhere” with the toys, and even those files you are working on at your desk. Put everything away when you are finished.
4) Make a list and then circle the top three things. This has really helped me at work since I am more diligent with my to-do list there. And boy is it a to-do list! Now, every morning I review the list and determine the top three things that MUST be completed that day. This helps me prioritize what I need to do by the time I leave. As a result, I am more productive, not as rushed—or late—and a happier mom when getting to the kids.
5) Sell stuff you don't use. Amazon and eBay are great ways to make some bucks on items you don't use. Those college textbooks you have on your basement, post them! Someone at a university somewhere may be teaching from them which means students are looking to buy them. The GPS that has moved to your glove compartment since your smartphone now speaks your directions, sell it! Not everyone has a smartphone or built in GPS.
Not too hard, right? I welcome any tips you all might have that helped you de-clutter and freed up stress or time. Knowledge is power so I would love to know, what has work has worked for you?