The Home Organization Life Cycle is an important concept to understand. Once you figure it out, you can finally end the cycle of (1) spend all day cleaning, (2) get frustrated the very next day at the messiness of your house, (3) give up the rest of the week, (4) repeat.
The good news is that you can jump into any section of the life cycle based on the state of your home right this second. However, if you’re the type that likes to have a suggested “starting point”, I personally think that Cleaning Surfaces is a great place to start. (You can click the previous link to read about that in depth.)
Today, however, let’s presume you’ve already tackled the previous two sections of the life cycle by clearing your surfaces and implementing a few daily habits to keep the surfaces clean.
The great part about this stage of the Life Cycle is that your living areas are…well, livable. Your home looks clean. Friends and family can easily find a place to sit when they visit. Overall you enjoy the space.
The problem is that you know there is clutter and disorganization behind the surface. It’s a MESS behind closed doors.
If this is the stage you find yourself in, you absolutely can not stop during this phase of the life cycle. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “out of site, out of mind,” right? Well, that’s exactly how most of your possessions are at this point.
It’s time to Simplify Your Stuff and Get Organized!
Simplify Your Stuff.
The next two sections of the life cycle (Simplify Your Stuff and Organize Your Stuff) go hand in hand. They are complementary.
You have to work on these two stages together.
But, you also have to work on them separately. Simplifying and Organizing are two very distinct concepts that need to be focused on individually.
Now, before you get scared at the concept of simplifying your stuff, let me tell you that I’m naturally a saver. Being wasteful is not in my DNA. I naturally embrace the “I might need it one day” concept.
Based on my years of working with clients, there’s a good chance you have a similar mindset.
However, when your cabinets, drawers and closets are crammed full, you are being more wasteful than you could ever imagine!
Can you relate?
Based on my experience (both personally and working with others), I’ve determined that there are several hidden downfalls to having your possessions disorganized and stuffed behind closed doors:
- You can’t find what you need when you need it; thus, that item you are saving for “some day” is useless. You thought you were going to save money by keeping that particular item, but you end up having to buy a replacement anyway…even though it’s somewhere in your home.
- Clothes that flatter you and fit your body are overshadowed by clothing items that do the opposite. You think you “don’t have anything to wear,” so you end up spending more of your hard earned income on even more clothes.
- The home you live in never seems good enough or big enough because it’s crammed full of possessions that you don’t use. You eventually “upgrade” to a bigger (more expensive) home so it can hold all of that stuff you don’t use…and then repeat the process.
- When you don’t use something (or let someone else use it), a perfectly good item is wasting away. There are many examples of this but technology items illustrate this concept perfectly. When you don’t use something you paid hundreds of dollars for, and you don’t sell or give it away, the value of that item is almost worthless a short time later. Selling it sooner than later can reduce your loss. It also helps clear out the clutter.
- The most valuable and sentimental items you own are shoved in the back of your closet or attic instead of showcased and observed on a daily basis. Those items we could never get rid of aren’t appreciated when they are hidden away. Plus, since they aren’t always in a climate controlled area (attic or garage), they often are ruined over time.
- You spend so much time maintaining countless, inexpensive items that you never get around to organizing the valuable (and oftentimes priceless) items like photos and heirlooms. Memories associated with our possessions often hold us back from decluttering. Yet, we let the most important memorabilia waste away.
- You get accustomed to buying and saving that you never actually consume. Think about those books you’ve never read, candles you’ve never burned, clothes you’ve never worn, and small appliances you’ve never (or rarely) used. If you don’t use them, the money spent on the item is for naught.
- When you hold on to the past you are wasting away the present. I have a friend who’s a retired teacher. She has years of lesson plans that she’s worked tirelessly. However, a large portion of her small home is housing boxes and boxes of old lesson plans. She’s holding onto the past so tightly that she isn’t enjoying the present. She’s wasting away her current time because she can’t let go of those physical items from the past.
Do any of those reasons hit home? If so, you are not alone. I’ve worked with hundreds of women to help them figure out how to live with the best and get rid of the rest.
When they get the hang of it, the result is life altering!
The Goal of Simplifying Your Stuff is Three-Fold:
The fears we have when it comes to letting go of perfectly good items are legit. We paid hard-earned money for those items. We obviously thought they would be useful when we purchased them.
1. Enjoy What You Use
When you finally let go of all the stuff that you don’t use, you have room to enjoy what you DO use.
For example, when your closet and dresser drawers are shoved with items you never wear, it’s difficult to find the items you do wear. Sometimes you even forget about perfectly good clothes because they’re hidden away.
Perhaps you have a hobby that you never have time for in your schedule. Crafting, painting and scrapbooking are just a few that come to mind. I’ve worked with many women who have the supplies for their hobbies, but they don’t have room in their home to work on their hobby. Or so they think. The fact is that their supplies are covered up with clutter.
When you simplify your stuff, you can actually enjoy the items you use (or want) to use.
2. Give proper attention to your most important items.
Hidden heirlooms passed down from former generations. Ignored family members living in our house. Friends we never have time to talk to anymore. Photo albums never looked at. Memories never remembered.
All of these are important. But when we are constantly cleaning, picking up or complaining about the mess, we miss out on the present. We miss out on the memories.
When we simplify the stuff that doesn’t matter, we make room for what truly matters.
3. Simplify your cluttered mind.
Whether we like it or not, visual clutter clogs up our mind. The “stuff” is a constant reminder of projects left undone (even if the “project” is something simple like folding laundry). When surfaces are clear and our stuff is organized, our brains can be used for good instead of holding all the clutter.
Repeating the “Simplify Your Stuff” section of the Home Organization Life Cycle.
Simplifying your stuff looks different for everyone.
You might be trying to figure out how to deal with the endless onslaught of stuff that can pile up when you have kids. Perhaps you just want to spend more time on the people or hobbies that are most important to you instead of constantly maintaining your stuff. Or you may be at a stage of life where downsizing is appealing and you don’t want your family members to have to downsize for you.
Simplifying doesn’t mean getting down to the bare bones where you could live in a tiny house.
Instead, simplifying your stuff is about creating space and time for what’s most important.
Starting is always the most difficult part. So, let me give you a suggestion.
Start simplifying with the easy stuff.
Trash. Empty boxes. Things that are broken. Junk mail. Expired pantry items. Pens that don’t have ink. Those are easy items to remove from your house.
Then work on items that need a little brain power.
This is different for everyone. But here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Books that are of no interest to you.
- Magazines from years past.
- Clothes that don’t fit.
- Small appliances you’ve never used.
- Shoes you haven’t worn in a year.
- Duplicate items.
Next, work on areas that take a great deal of brain power.
Simplifying the majority of your possessions will take work. More than likely, you will want to carefully consider how each item adds value or retracts from your lifestyle. It’s a fine balance but it can be done.
I’ve found that the easiest way to deal with these items is to use a decluttering toolkit. If you put the toolkit together, you can make decisions quickly and move on with your life!
Finally, you can work to simplify items you use often and determine next steps with sentimental items.
The great part about this step is that you will have cleared out all the junk in your home and will be able to see what you actually use and love!
When you know what it is that creates a useful living space, it’s finally time to get those items organized. And that’s exactly what we will talk about next week. We will dive deep into the next section of the Life Cycle….Organize Your Stuff. Make sure to sign up to get the entire series delivered straight to your inbox.
Until then, start simplifying and let me know about your progress! I’d love to hear about it!
P.S. If you need help simplifying something simple, like your closets, you can get The Ultimate Guide to Simplify Your Closet video course at an 80% discount right now. It’s regularly $39 but you can get it today for just $7!
P.P.S. If you need accountability and step-by-step guidance on how to simplify your stuff, you can find out more info here. Also, for the next week, you can enter the coupon code LIFECYCLE to get a 25% discount.