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Your A to Your B

The majority of people in the US are marketed to in some form. We hear commercials and see billboards while we drive; we see commercials and “how other people live” while we watch TV; we see pictures of “how other people live” in magazines, on Pinterest, and in our newsfeeds on social media. There is a “your life should look like this” message that is thrown at us at every turn. You might call that an unrealistic “Z” in the alphabet and you feel like you are sitting way back at the letter “A.”

I talk all the time with my clients about going from “Your A to Your B.”

The reality is that “Z” isn’t real. Most of those pictures in our minds are staged. They are set up for the picture to showcase a product or feeling that the advertisers want you to buy. That’s why some of the pictures you see in my after shots still have more items in it and are likely less tidy than the magazine – because people live in those homes.

I do encourage my clients to dream about what they want their spaces to look like, to get a picture in their mind. Then we talk about how their family and home functions in different seasons. With their goal in mind, we work through decluttering and then organizing. While no one is expected in reality to get their home to the elusive Z, everyone will feel better when their space is serving them rather than holding them captive.

If your home feels out of control with piles everywhere, overstuffed closets, cabinets, and drawers you will need to go from Your A to Your B. Getting to Your M may take some time. It takes a lot of mental energy to make the decisions to let go of things. It can feel like a loss to have less items in your home. Likewise, if can feel like a major loss to have a lot less items in your home. So while you may only wear the same 10 outfits, getting rid of all of the rest of your clothes at once could feel impossible.

How can you move from Your A to Your B?

Let’s stick with the clothes example. Let’s say you have a walk-in closet, dresser, and chest of drawers full of clothes (and perhaps they are also overflowing in the laundry room, the couch, and the end of your bed). The most thorough way to go about this task is to put all of your clothes in one place at one time. However, if you are doing this alone, you are probably overwhelmed even thinking about that. You can always call in a local professional organizer to help guide you and keep you going. If you’d like to tackle your clothes on your own, I’ll recommend one way that might work for you.

Keep in mind that you are going from Your A to Your B. Instead of going from a house full of overflowing piles of clothing to a 1-foot section in the closet and half of a drawer, you may well be going from overflowing piles to everything fits in the closet and the dresser. That is wonderful progress!

  1. Write out every area where you have clothing. Dresser, closet, laundry room, car, etc.
  2. Choose a goal or two. Do you want to spend less time in the mornings deciding what to wear? Do you want to have less laundry to do? Do you want to see and wear only clothes that you feel good in?
  3. Take a before picture of your clothes. This will help you see what you are dealing with and will give you a great sense of accomplishment when you finish.
  4. Take one section at a time to go through. You will likely find that it takes less time than you think if you can give 15-30 focused minutes a day to this task. Check the completed section off of your list to mark your progress.
  5. Take the clothes you aren’t keeping right away to be donated or schedule a yard sale or online sale. (When making the decision on what you will do with the clothes you aren’t keeping, be sure to think about what you have time for. If one reason you haven’t gone through your clothes is that you don’t have time, you may want to choose to donate your clothing as this is the least time consuming option.)
  6. Take an after picture of your clothes.
  7. Celebrate a job well done and enjoy your newly found clothing freedom!
  8. In about 6 months do the process again. You will find that your decluttering muscle is stronger, you have a better sense of what you like and want to keep, and another season will have passed.

The Book Dilemma Solved

A few weeks ago I shared that books were one of my major areas of belongings that “I have to keep this to stay alive.” Maybe you read that article and thought, “That sounds good but I still love to read and want access to books.” Well, there’s good news! Books are still in abundance and in a variety of formats. Here’s a little list of ways that you can have your cake and eat it to… or let go of your books and read them too!

 

Photo of elementary-aged child’s bookshelf.

 

Library
This might be a no brainer to you but I recently saw that an adult friend of mine had just gotten her very first library card. Perhaps she didn’t live near a library growing up and, yes, I’m confident that she utilized the library at her high school and college for research. Now as an adult she has discovered the brand new (to her) world of the library for entertainment. Not only does a local library have real-life-in-your-hands books but it also has: audiobooks on CD, movies, board games, outside games, classes, clubs of all kinds, and even shows and events.

Ebooks
Ebooks are electronic books that you can read on almost any device these days. You can use a Kindle or Nook that are specifically designed for just this purpose or you can download an app to your smart phone or tablet. This might not scratch your itch if you want to hold an actual book but if you are looking to just read, this is a viable takes-up-no-more-space-in-your-home option.

Audiobooks on CD
Audiobooks are everywhere. As already mentioned, you can borrow audiobooks on CD from the local library with your library card. And, y’all, Cracker Barrel has audiobooks on CD that you can rent from one location and return to another location! Can you say, Road Trip!?!?

Audiobooks Online
What if you don’t want to keep up with a physical set of CDs? There are apps! Some are subscription based (Audible.com an Amazon company) and some are just a place to download books (Google Play Books for Android users) and others that let you borrow for free (Libby, an OverDrive company). And if Christian books are your thing, Christianaudio.com has a free audiobook download each month along with the ability to purchase Christian audiobooks as well.

Book Sharing
Then there is the age old delight of sharing books among friends. The best books I’ve read have come recommended by a friend. So when you’ve read a purchased book and enjoyed it, pass it along to a friend who will enjoy it and the journey of that book continues.

Notice that I didn’t mention used book stores or thrift store or garage sales. Each of these are a great way to build your library inexpensively. However, the goal is not to build your library but to lighten the load in your house and in your mind actually freeing you up to have time to read more. Enjoy!

***I have no affiliation with any of these links.

What is Your Clutter Personality?

I’m a reader. In fact, for years I hauled boxes upon boxes of books with me each time I moved. Three big bookshelves worth. Y’all, books are heavy. (Here is my sincere apology and thanks to all of the wonderful people who used their time and energy to help make that happen.)

I had books from college, seminary, an amazing internship, and just life. I also had notebooks from all said stages of life. I was convinced that I needed all of these books. That I was one day going to need to look something up from one of the books that I was required to read and that if I couldn’t look it up that I was going to let someone down in a way that would ultimately crush them. That might sound extreme to you but it ran through my mind each time I thought about going through my books. How many times did I go back to those books? I’ll give you three guesses.

 

(image of a client’s curated bookshelf of Newberry Award wining books)

 

About two years ago, after yet another move, I decided that I just wasn’t reading the majority of the books that adorned my book shelves. Although I am a reader, I am not much of a re-reader. If it’s a story of any kind I’m probably not going to read it again. And unless it’s a super amazing book of truth or insight, my eyes aren’t going to see those pages again. Armed with my new knowledge about myself, I set out to decide which books I would read again. I was ruthless. That is what it took. I was also ready. I had spent years of building my decluttering-muscle.

I am now down to one shelf of books that I will recommend in a heartbeat and will read again, a stack of books for my profession (books that may or may not make it to the prized shelf), three series of books that I treasure, and a rotating stack of books that I am reading and then giving away.

I have substantially lightened the book load around here but I am still a heavy reader. The library, passed along books from friends, and the internet all help me to keep the book load under control.

Recently I came across these little treasures that might help you to think through some of your own clutter and why you might be keeping it around.

***UPDATE: If you are looking for a way to keep reading and keep a minimal bookshelf. Here is an article I wrote with a few ways you can accomplish that goal.

Will I Wear This Tomorrow?

Are you ready for your closet to stop causing you stress in the mornings? Fabulous! One way to do that is to cut down on the number of decisions you have to make in the morning. And one way to cut down the number of decisions you have to make in the morning is to cut down on the amount of clothes you have to decide from.

Those of you who know how I work know that I’m not trying to get you down to just 30 pieces of clothing. Well, not today. Or ever… if you don’t want to do that. But I can all but guarantee you will find great relief and freedom in owning less than what you currently have.

More times than not, you can look at an item and know right away that it can leave your home. Sometimes you need some questions to think through. Having these questions in the back of your mind or literally in front of you can help you make the decision.

Below are 10 questions to ask to help you decide what clothes to keep or get out of the house altogether. These questions are asked in two ways: what to KEEP and what to LET GO OF. A different perspective can make all the difference.

Questions to help you think of what clothes to keep

  1. What would you wear tomorrow?
  2. What makes you feel good when you wear it?
  3. What clothes are appropriate for your current lifestyle?
  4. What clothes communicate the appropriate thing about you?
  5. What would you buy again?

Questions to help you think what clothes to get out of your home

  1. What do you often or always pass up to wear something that you like better?
  2. What haven’t you worn in a year?
  3. What clothes are too big? (and you don’t want to revisit that size)
  4. What clothes are too small? (and you aren’t actively working to get to that size)
  5. What clothes are just out of date?

Remember, these are your clothes so think about what you want to keep up with and what you enjoy and what serves you best.

What other questions do you ask yourself to decide what clothes to keep and what clothes to let go of?

Children’s Toys – 10 Questions to Ask

Children’s toys can multiply so quickly. Between birthdays, holidays, and the generosity of family and friends, a room in your home can go from a mild mannered play room to an all out toy store… just not as organized. Below are 10 questions to ask to help you decide what toys to keep and what toys to box up or get out of the house altogether.

I’ve found that asking the same question in a different way can make all of the difference.

Questions to help you think of what to keep out and around your home
1. What toys do your kids go to first thing? (a book, a doll, a car, etc.)
2. What do they spend extended amounts of time playing with? (manga-tiles, coloring, reading)
3. What would they cry real, lasting tears about losing? (a lovey vs. 1 of 30 matchbox cars)
4. What toys do you see as a grower of imagination and learning and growth as a functioning member of society? (legos, musical instruments, craft/science supplies)
5. What toys meet your family’s mission statement? (if you don’t have family mission statement, take some time to come up with one)

 

Questions to help you think of what to get out of your home (or box up for soonish or sentimental)
1. Are there duplicate toys that serve the same purpose? (I’m talking about 2 xylophones here, not 2 stuffed animals.)
2. What toys have the kids outgrown? (teething rings, bouncy seats)
3. What toys do they not play with? (they just aren’t into horses)
4. What toys are too complicated for their age? (100 piece puzzle for a 3 year old)
5. What toys drive you crazy? (the singing remote, anyone?)

Remember, this is your house (that you share with your family) so think about what you want to keep up with and what you enjoy and what serves the greater purpose of your family and growth of your children.