Decluttering | Living Simply
17 Most Effective Ways to Simplify Your Home and Life
Who I am is a Southern California turned small-town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls. I am also dog mom to Ollie, our quirky Labradoodle.
Back when I first started my professional organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other really successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD the same way that I have.
I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.
I help women and moms with ADHD, but I also help those who struggle with clutter without having ADHD. Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.
I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.
I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.
It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life.
in your space…
…but let it be
as a daisy
in a vase.
17 Most Effective Ways to Simplify Your Home and Your Life
When you simplify your home, this can have numerous benefits for your physical and mental well-being. Here’s a list of tips for simplifying your home and life, along with reasons why it’s important:
Is it time to simplify your home and life?
Most of us spend our lives growing and accumulating belongings, we start with an apartment, then a small house. As our families grow and we acquire bigger homes, we continue to collect possessions.
Owning a big home with many possessions is how most of us define success. But sometimes, in our quest for a sense of achievement, we end up with more possessions than we really need or use. In 2015 the National Association of Professional Organizers did a survey and found that 54% of Americans struggle with too much clutter in their homes.
I am willing to bet that that number is likely even higher today. If this sounds like you, it may be time to take inventory of your home and its contents and decide if your belongings are adding something to your life…
or just weighing you down.
Effective ways to simplify your home:
1. How to make your home feel less cluttered and more nurturing.
Evaluate how your home feels; is there plenty of open space for energy to flow? Or have its rooms become suffocating? Do you feel peaceful when you are at home? Does your home have one or more of the following common clutter problems:
- Too many items on kitchen counters.
- Too many pictures on the walls.
- Things without a home sitting around.
- Flat surfaces are covered with too much stuff.
- Mail and other paperwork all over the counters.
- Papers and magnets are all over the refrigerator.
- Too much furniture in each room.
If these clutter issues are present in your home, consider what you can clear out of those spaces to make them feel more welcoming and clutter-free.
2. Make it a priority to simplify your home to make it your sanctuary.
Another reason we don’t let go of what we no longer use is that we let our busy schedules get in the way of getting the job done. Decide once and for all to make decluttering your home your first and foremost goal.
Put a day or two on the calendar to get the job done and don’t let anything else take its place. After all, if you can’t come home to an environment that supports and rejuvenates you, this will negatively impact how you feel when you are away from home.
Making your home base a place that nurtures you is important because it is the core energy source for everything you do outside of the home.
3. Changing your mindset will help you simplify your home.
We often feel reluctant to let go of what we have spent our whole lives working to acquire. But what those with this mindset do not realize is that letting go of what no longer serves our needs or fits our lifestyle can actually add to the quality of our lives. So paradoxically, by letting go, we ultimately end up with more rather than less.
There is responsibility and maintenance that goes along with managing our home and all its contents. Letting go of that responsibility can simplify our lives and can be liberating and inspiring. Moving from a large high-maintenance home to a smaller one that better fits our present needs, can feel like lifting a large weight off of our shoulders.
4. Evaluate the relationship that you have with your stuff.
We all possess a natural inclination to seek more, whether that is in the form of more success, or more material belongings. But that mentality does not always serve us well. If we can become more aware of this mostly unconscious and fruitless desire, we can take control of our thoughts and live more intentionally.
How tightly are you clinging to your material possessions? On what level do you let your stuff define who you are? Do you always feel like happiness is just out of reach with the next purchase? It is important to bring light to any ingrained beliefs that might be hidden from your awareness. Because these beliefs can be the roadblock that sits between you and the clutter-free home you desire. Just shifting our focus from – what more can we acquire? – to what can we let go of? – will impact our lives significantly.
5. If a lot of decluttering is needed – start small.
If you have a large decluttering job ahead of you, don’t tackle the whole house at once. This will not only be overwhelming, but it will be less rewarding at the end of the day. By doing a little decluttering here and there, it’s hard to see tangible results. Instead, focus on one small area at a time – like a bathroom.
Break large rooms into small chunks. Move on to another area only after you have completed the first. This way, you’ll reap the rewards of your labor every time you open your bathroom door and see a decluttered space…and this will motivate you to keep making progress.
6. If you have a whole house to declutter – do it in this order to prevent getting overwhelmed.
Avoid starting your decluttering journey with a challenging category. Generally, keepsakes, photos, and paperwork are more difficult categories of clutter to tackle. Going through paperwork is a much slower process than decluttering say… your pantry. And keepsakes and photos usually have so many emotions tied to them that you’ll end up taking a walk down memory lane instead of getting the job done.
To make more rapid progress, start with a more manageable category like bathroom toiletries, or the food in your pantry. Most of us don’t get teary eyed over a nearly empty bottle of shampoo or an expired box of cornflakes.
7. Establish a family DONATE box.
It is helpful to set aside time twice a year to go through your belongings and get rid of what you no longer need or use. To further encourage decluttering, establish a donation box for your family. Keep an empty box in a designated location in your home year-round, and write DONATE on the side of it.
Communicate with your family to toss no longer used items in the box as they come across them. The donation box becomes an automatic tool that helps you declutter your home. Then all you have to do is get the boxes in your car and drop them off at a charity.
8. Simplify your home by getting rid of excess furniture.
Too much furniture often will make a room feel and look less spacious and welcoming. Have you ever entered a room and it just didn’t feel good? What may have been happening on a subconscious level was there was too much to look at all at once and it felt chaotic instead of welcoming.
If you have ever toured a model home you may have noticed that it was open and spacious. Model homes are usually very minimally decorated. Designers do this on purpose because this is what sells the home and creates a spacious, welcoming appeal.
9. The empty spaces in your home are important too.
Having some empty space allows energy into your home and creates a peaceful, Zen-like environment. Like everything else in life, your home needs to maintain a balance of both space and stuff. Look around your home for some empty spaces, and examine your walls, shelves, corners, and surfaces. If every nook and cranny is filled to the brim, consider making some empty spaces in your home.
10. Reduce Paper and Digital Declutter.
Organize your digital life by deleting unnecessary files, emails, and apps. Backup and organize important digital documents. Go digital with bills, statements, and other documents to reduce paper clutter. Save time by streamlining your bill-paying process. Make arrangements with your bank to pay your bills online.
11. Unsubscribe and Unfollow.
You can also reduce digital clutter by unsubscribing from email lists and unfollowing social media accounts that don’t add value to your life. Do you subscribe to magazines or catalogs that end up cluttering up your home? Do they make you feel guilty about not taking the time to read them? If so, take the time to unsubscribe and get them out of your home and mind for good.
12. Streamline Your Wardrobe.
The best way to simplify and organize your closet is to go through your clothing regularly. Let go of everything that you do not wear and also consider letting go of items that don’t fit or that you have too many duplicates of.
Evaluate your clothing and tailor your closet to fit your current lifestyle. Often my clients’ closets reflect how they were living 5-10 years ago rather than today. If you have 15 dresses or suits for work, but only wear casual clothing now that you are retired, it might be time to let them go and free up some closet space.
A closet bursting with clothing is much less functional than one with ample space to store everything efficiently. If your goal is to find and retrieve what you need quickly, then storing less stuff in it is your answer.
13. Keep sentimental keepsakes in check.
For some of us, our memories hold so much energy that we cling to them tightly. Clinging to things that remind us of the past can not only clutter up our homes but can keep us tethered to living in the past instead of living for today.
Commit to going through your keepsakes and inherited items and reduce them to a manageable amount. For many, the process of sorting through sentimental items one piece at a time can be an effective and therapeutic way of revisiting the past one last time – and bringing closure to it.
It may help to set a limit for yourself before you begin sorting through things. Choose a container to store the items in and let the container guide you as to how much you will keep. Identify your most cherished momentos. Take photos of the rest if needed, then let go of everything that doesn’t fit inside the container. You want to end up with a sampling of memories to enjoy, not a house that feels more like a museum than your home.
In addition to simplifying your home, here are some ways to simplify your life as well:
14. How to make your life less complicated.
The bonus to switching our mindsets from “What more do I need?” to “What don’t I need any more?” is that many who develop this way of thinking and living, find themselves able to let go of the clutter that complicates other parts of their lives as well.
They learn to simplify their schedules and lifestyles and to let go of unwanted obligations that cause unnecessary stress. How would it feel to slow down and enjoy life more? What if you could stop feeling guilty about not being perpetually productive and busy?
These days, we live in a world of… do more, have more, be more, and we never stop running. This mentality leaves us feeling perpetually overwhelmed, but we don’t have to live this way. We can learn to be satisfied with a simpler life, and come to cherish this carefree, less burdensome way of living.
15. Figure out how to lighten your load.
The key to staying on top of things and having less stress is to evaluate what you can do to lighten your load. Can you move to a different home that requires less maintenance? Can you hire someone to clean your house or do your yard work? Can you let go of what you no longer use but still store and maintain? Can you say goodbye to the things that aren’t worth managing anymore?
When our kiddos were young, we had a travel trailer and made a lot of good memories camping. But once they got into high school and involved in sports, it sat unused for most of the year. Yet, we were paying a monthly storage fee and also had to keep it registered, clean, and insured. Though it was bittersweet to sell it, due to the memories it held, it was the right decision. It no longer served us, and letting go of it saved us money and simplified our lives. Evaluate the things in your life that demand your attention and decide if they are really worth the effort.
16. Take time to evaluate how you spend your time.
Many of us are so busy that we never take time to consider what we can do to make our lives easier for ourselves. Meanwhile, we continue to spit out productivity like we are on a conveyor belt. This is true whether we are talking about maintaining what we own, memberships, obligations, or other responsibilities that require our time and attention.
Using a notepad, break down your schedule so that you are clear about what demands your time each day, from morning to bedtime. Then determine which responsibilities are meaningful or important to you and which ones might not be anymore. Prioritize your schedule so that you are spending less time doing things that don’t inspire you, and more more time doing what’s important to you.
17. Be selective and intentional with your “yeses”.
Never give an immediate answer when someone asks you to commit to something. Instead, tell the person making the request that you need to check your calendar or that you need to talk to your partner first, then, you will get back to them.
This will give you time to think about your schedule and make a more insightful decision rather than an impulsive one. It will also give you time to formulate how to give a “no” response if you decide that you don’t have the time in your schedule. It’s always easier to tell someone “yes” than it is to say “no” but it is important to stand firm in order to maintain a balanced schedule. By doing this, you will ultimately be taking better care of yourself, leaving you with more energy to engage more positively with those around you.
The benefits of simplifying your home and life are numerous. I have listed just a few below:
- Reduced Stress: Clutter can be mentally overwhelming and lead to increased stress. A simplified space promotes relaxation and peace of mind.
- Improved Focus: A clutter-free environment allows you to focus on tasks and activities without distractions.
- Increased Productivity: A simplified workspace can boost productivity and creativity by eliminating visual and mental clutter.
- Better Physical Health: Cleaning and organizing regularly can improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of allergies and respiratory problems.
- Financial Benefits: If you know what you have at home and where it is stored, you will spend less money buying things that you already had but couldn’t find.
- More Time: With less time spent searching for lost items and cleaning up clutter, you’ll have more time for activities you enjoy.
- Improved Relationships: A simplified home can foster better relationships by reducing stress and promoting open communication with other family members.
- Emotional Benefits: Simplifying your home can lead to a sense of liberation, as you detach from material possessions and focus on experiences and relationships.
Remember that simplifying your home and life is a personal journey, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Start small, set achievable goals, and gradually work towards creating a clutter-free and simplified living space and lifestyle that aligns with your values and needs.
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