“There is no reason to complicate your family culture just because the culture at large is complicated. When you choose the simple road over the one cluttered with gadgets, theories, and systems, your whole family will probably have more peace and less stress.” Tsh Oxenreider from her book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living.
The simple road … that’s the path I’m trying to take these days. It’s not always easy, you know?Some people pair the words “simple” and “easy” together as if they automatically go hand-in-hand. But they don’t. My friend Ben explains the difference a little better in his recent blog post “Simple vs. Easy.” The bottom line is – although it’s not always easy to simplify, it’s definitely worth the effort.
To me, simplifying is all about being who you were meant to be and taking the time to determine what it is you value the most, what your priorities are, and where you are spending your time vs. where you would rather be spending your time. We have to be more intentional about the decisions we make as far as spending money, bringing more stuff into our homes, scheduling events and activities, and just plain living everyday life if we want our lives and our homes to reflect who we really are and what matters most to us.
So, I’m working on that. One of the first steps for me is decluttering … learning to let go of the things that are just taking up space and weighing me down. In fact, I think I’m a lot like Gretchen Rubin from Good Housekeeping who says, “For most people – and this is certainly true for me – outer order contributes to inner clam. When I’m surrounded by a mess, I feel restless and unsettled, but clearing clutter gives me a surge of energy and cheer.” I want the calm that comes with a simple and orderly home.
This past weekend, I tackled the office closet. Here, I keep shipping supplies, binders, copies of completed jobs, suitcases, electronics, extra tote bags, a couple jackets, and my wedding dress. Quite an assortment of things. If we owned our home, I would redo this closet to include a better storage system, but since we rent, I found an inexpensive way to make use of the space. I use hanging closet organizers that are meant to hold shirts and sweaters and other types of clothing. The only problem is – I’ve been tossing miscellaneous items in them lately rather than using them in a way that makes the best sense for my office space.
When you’re decluttering and organizing, if possible, use items you already have around the house (boxes, crates, shelves) to help you corral your stuff; if you need some good ideas or want to purchase new supplies, one of my favorite places for organizational tools is The Container Store. Love that place!
Anyway, back to the task at hand. My first step was to take everything out of the closet. When I did that, I found several electronic items that we really have no need to keep anymore: a printer that doesn’t really work; a scanner that I don’t need because my new printer has one built in; a fax machine, which is unnecessary because I can scan and email documents; a DVD player, which we don’t use because we play movies in our XBox, etc. I pulled all of these items aside to get rid of them.
Did you know that Best Buy has been advertising a new Trade In Program for old electronics? You can get credit on a gift card for “gently used” electronics and games. Of course there are some conditions on what they’ll accept, but it’s certainly worth checking into. And anything that doesn’t have a trade-in value will be recycled for you, so you won’t have to worry about non-working items ending up in a landfill. I’m going to look into this trade-in concept this next week. At this point, we’ve got nothing to lose, but clutter.
As I sorted the remaining closet items, I filled up a trash bag and a recycling bag, and then began to place things back into the closet in a more orderly fashion. It really didn’t take that long, and it wasn’t that hard to do. But it felt good to cross this project off my list (I’ve been meaning to do it for two or three weeks). When Bart got home, I had to show him what I had accomplished; I was proud of myself. He was impressed that we could actually walk into the closet once again.
As I closed the door on this particular project, I felt good. Not from achieving perfection, but from creating order out of disorder. From knowing that this was a simple start to a lifelong commitment of creating a more peaceful living space where things become less prominent, and what I do have is organized, easy to find, and much easier to enjoy.
“The surprising effect of getting rid of the things that you don’t love is that you grow deeper in love with the things you choose to keep.” Tsh Oxenreider
The hall medicine/linen closet is next on my list. What about you? What choices are you making to accomplish great things (or even small things) in the name of order and peace of mind?