The appeal to minimalism is most often in the way it makes one’s home feel: open, spacious and free of clutter.
Here are seven steps you can take to create a home that you love being in:
1. Get rid of most of your stuff. And when you feel like you’re done- go through it again and get rid of more.
I get asked all the time: but how do I organize it??
2. Work room-by-room.
3. Give things their own “home.”
- Instead of leaving the toaster on the counter, give it cupboard space near where you use it most. Assign a place to put all the office supplies.
- Assign a drawer for your shirts and a drawer for your pants.
- Assign a place to put your purse, keys, etc. so you know right where to put them when you walk in the door.
- Assign a place for shoes, coats, gloves, and backpacks.
- In the pantry, assign sections to different foods: cereals, snack foods, canned foods, etc.
4. Follow the One-Touch rule.
When we procrastinate, we create more work for ourselves. Think through when you come home after a long day out: You walk through the door, plop your purse down on the table, hang your coat over a chair (first “touch” of the purse and coat) and deal with whatever is pressing at home: let the dog out, start dinner for the kids, listen to your messages, check the mail…
At dinner, you have the kids clear stuff off the table so you can eat there. The kids grab the purse and coat (second “touch”) and set them on the buffet.
During dinner you get a call from a friend, they need to stop by to borrow something, in a hurry to tidy up, you grab everything off the buffet (including the purse and coat… third “touch”) and throw it into your bedroom so the surfaces are clear.
Finally, you’re ready to sit down and relax for the evening, but you want to pick up first, and you decide to hang your purse and coat up by the door where they belong. (This is the fourth time the purse and coat have been touched since you walked in the door.)
Instead, when you walk in the house, take the ten extra steps and hang up the purse and coat immediately. (One-touch!) This will save you from touching it several more times as you shuffle it around all night.
5. Build daily rituals.
When one area is kept clean, it makes the whole room look nicer. Even just one clean and clear surface can give a lighter, freer feeling in that space. Think about it:
How do you feel when…
- The bed is made?
- The dishes are done?
- The table is clean?
- The laundry isn’t piled on the floor?
When you build easy daily cleaning habits everything stays tidier. There is no need to stress about what you “need to do” because it’s already been done.
Even for those who are in the habit of washing dishes every day, having a set time in your daily flow to do it (right after breakfast or right after the kids go to school) means you don’t think about it every time you walk by the dishes.
6. Act before you think.
We talk ourselves out of so much. If you have a productive or self-improving thought, you have to act on it before you talk yourself out of it.
Just like the one-touch rule: If you take time to think about whether you want to hang up your purse and coat right now, your mind will come up all kinds of reasons why it’s too much effort to walk over to the closet and hang up your coat.
But if you don’t allow yourself to think through the action, and you just do it- it will get done and before your mind has time to come up with an objection, you will have put away the coat and purse.
This is how good habits are built: If you spend your time thinking about decluttering, your brain is going to feel so exhausted that getting started will seem like climbing Mount Everest. Instead, pick a simple project, only require that one simple thing of yourself and attack it before you have time to come up with a reason not to.
7. Eliminate obligations from the calendar.
While you’re getting rid of things that you don’t need that have been taking up space in your home, you’re going to notice things you have on your schedule that are taking up space in your life, but you would rather they didn’t.
If you think you don’t have time for yourself, then take time to evaluate what is on your calendar, how your time is being spent and start saying “no.”
The only tool you have for creating free time for yourself is the word “no.”
Keep things on the calendar that help you live the life you want to live. And if it’s not helping you live that life, then find a way to remove it from your schedule.