Before we can dive into Simplifying, we have to get prepared to get started – make our game plan. In Part 1 of the Simplify blog series, I shared my top 3 tips on how to get prepared to Simplify.
Now, we are ready to get started!
So…what do we do next?
Remember my pesky overfull kitchen drawer that I introduced to you guys in Part 1?
…This was the small space that I chose to tackle with you guys, so I am going to walk through how I was able to get to my organized finished product after Simplifying. I will also share my top 5 tips on how to Simplify in your home!
5 tips to simplify in your home:
Take Everything Out…Yes everything!
This may seem daunting, especially when you’re already overwhelmed, but it’s a very important part of the Simplifying process!
Take a look at my kitchen drawer BEFORE pic – you can’t even tell what all is happening in there! There is just too much going on!
I often see my clients try to get away with scanning a space visually, but we just can’t get a true sense of what’s actually there if we don’t physically pick things up.
When we pull everything out of a space, it requires that we see and touch everything that is in the space.
After I take everything out of my drawer, I am able to see what I have. I can pair down on duplicates or things I no longer need. I may even find a hidden treasure once I can see everything laid out!
It gives us a fresh perspective on the space. This is very helpful when we’re implementing a new system.
This is your opportunity to clean out the space that you just emptied!
Once everything is out of my kitchen drawer, this is the best time for me to clean it out!
I was able to get all of the crumbs and sticky stuff that always seems to accumulate…ick!
2. time to categorize…
Organize items as you pull them out and create categories.
Start with these three basic categories:
Keep : it adds value to your life, or you use it regularly.
Go : you’re done with it, so donate it, give it away, recycle it, or throw it in the trash.
Not sure : if you’re struggling with something, create this category, but know you’ll have to go through it again! *Don’t use this as a crutch to keep things you don’t need, but more as a tool to keep you moving forward and not getting stuck on one item.
Notice there is not a “just in case pile”.
Questions to ask yourself:
Are you just keeping this thing because you think you may need it someday? This would be a “just in case” situation.
When was the last time you used it?
Does it still work? or fit (clothes)?
Do you really need it?
Could someone else make better use of it (give it to a friend or family member/donate)?
Are you holding on to it for sentimental reasons (see tip #4 below)?
3. Organize Your “keep” pile
I told you that you would have to come back to that “Not sure” pile…now is the time!
It is time to figure out what all is in your “Keep” pile (which means no more “Not sure” pile). You need to be able to see all of the “Keep” items so that you can reorganize them back into the space that you are working with.
You may have some things in your “Keep” pile that just wont work in the space or would be better fit in a “new home” in your house. You can create a “Move” pile for these items.
— For example, the turkey baster in my kitchen drawer is only used in our house at Thanksgiving, so I can move it elsewhere to make space for more frequently used kitchen tools.
How you further categorize/organize will vary depending on the area. Put similar items together to help you in your systems creation and implementation.
If you have baskets, bins, dividers, etc. you can use these to help create division between the different categories that you create, which also helps with sustaining your systems! Check out the Simple Shop for ideas on products that I like to use in various areas!
You now have created a simplified area in your home! Doesn’t it feel good?!
My last 2 tips highlight a couple categories that you may come across while Simplifying that can be a little more challenging:
4. Sentimental Things
Tackle sentimental items last or at least wait until you have gained some momentum and confidence.
Even though I’m not a very sentimental person, I understand these things aren’t easy to get rid of. The fact is, objects don’t carry memories. Instead of storing a large number of these items in your basement never to be seen, pick a few to put on display or find a reasonably sized box to store the most meaningful ones.
Some people I’ve worked with are ready to let go of things that have sentimental value, but they need help. They need a strategy. I like to start by setting parameters. Find a nice box and let that be your guide. You can only keep what fits in that box. Remember grandma’s hope chest? She only kept what fit inside. Yet her memories and stories lasted a lifetime. Less stuff, more memories. A powerful lesson.
5. Kids’ Toys
If I could wave a wand and make the challenge of managing kids’ toys vanish, I would retire early and enjoy my days in a mountain house. But seriously, as a mom of two kids, I understand this issue firsthand.
I don’t think there is a secret solution, but letting go of perfection and actually letting go of the toys has been key for me to stop my cycle of insanity. Less is so much more with kiddos!
Simply pare them down and donate some of the toys. Depending on your children’s ages and willingness to let go of things, you could do this with them…or without them. Many people say that the kiddos should be a part of this activity. I think it all depends on how they will accept it.
I ask my younger kids to pick one toy they no longer use and would like to give to a kid who is in need. Then I go through and pick out the ones they have outgrown or haven’t used in a long time and are not likely to miss. I also go through their stuff when they are at school, and I toss all of the little pieces and broken items that will never get fixed or paired back up. Let them go!
If there are a good number of toys your kids still play with and are not ready to let go, I suggest taking a handful of toys and tucking them away. You can pull these out when they seem to be getting bored with the current toys. This could also be a strategy for letting go of some toys. You can tuck some away and if they don’t notice after several months, it may be an opportunity to donate them.
To learn more about creating a system for kids’ toys, grab your free Kids’ Toys Guide.
I see this as a journey…
When you start to simplify, it doesn’t have to be a massive overhaul of letting go of everything all at once. It’s okay if it takes a few attempts!
As long as you’re working towards paring down to items that add value and bring joy, you’ll end up with a smaller amount of stuff that makes it possible to implement an effective system!
But, I know it is not that easy! If it was, none of us would have clutter or feel overwhelmed Simplifying.
There are barriers that can slow down, or all together halt, the Simplification process. We will talk through how to identify those barriers so that you can move forward in next week’s blog, stay tuned!
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