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When I first started out on my mission to simplify our life I completely underestimated how much work that would actually be. That sounds kinda crazy, as surely simplifying means things are simple and if something is simple it’s easy right?
Well, yes that is right but you have to get to simple first and that is the hard part.
To simplify means: to make less complicated, clearer or easier which anyone who is reading this and feeling overwhelmed will think I want that. In this crazy face paced new world don’t we all secretly want that? I know I did.
I shared a column that I wrote for a magazine the other day entitled 5 Top Tips For Minimalist Mums. A friend of mine jokingly commented suggesting that I give his partner some tips.
She came back and said ‘ok I get it I do, it’s just the doing it that’s an issue’. That right there is the problem. We all may crave a simpler lifestyle but it’s the doing it that is overwhelming, I mean where do you even start to simplify when there are so many different factors to consider?
Interestingly this week I also received some feedback from my 7 Days to Simplify your Life course. When someone has finished the course, I send out a feedback questionnaire so that I can continue to improve the course. One of the questions is…
What has been your biggest problem with simplifying your own life?
A response I got this week was… ‘feeling overwhelmed by all the ‘stuff’.
My takeaway from those two bits of feedback is that the biggest issue with simplifying your life is not knowing where to start.
So today I thought I’d have a go at breaking it down for you into 3 different steps.
Related Post: 9 Ways I Have Simplified my Life
Step One: Declutter
I can already hear you groaning after reading that first step but trust me this really is the best way, to begin with simplifying your life.
To truly succeed with decluttering you’ve really got to want to do it and go into it with the right mindset.
There are hundreds of different decluttering methods online. Do your research before you begin. Read books, articles and blogs on decluttering. Get inspired, get motivated and then and only then begin the process.
Then be ruthless! If it no longer serves you, makes you happy or is old, broken or worn out get rid of it. Your home is not storage space.
“…when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future…As a result, we increase the number of unnecessary possessions, burying ourselves both physically and mentally in superfluous things.” Marie Kondo
Don’t forget that clutter doesn’t just relate to stuff it incorporates so much more than that. It’s everything from your 1000 unread emails, your never-ending to-do lists and the grudges you’re holding onto years after the event.
Related Post: 5 Most Common Types of Clutter & How To Deal with It
I cannot tell you for sure which method will work best for you but I can tell you what worked for me. I’d definitely recommend working on your physical clutter first; the items in your home. Then start on your digital clutter and then progress to the harder ones such as emotional & mental clutter.
Related Post: How I Finally Got Our Home in Order Once and For All
Books on Decluttering
Personally, I read hundreds of books on decluttering before I began but there were a few that really inspired me so I thought I’d share those ones with you.
If you are only going to read one book on decluttering I would recommend this one. It’s the one book that changed the method I was using for decluttering and once I’d completed all of the steps it felt amazing!
The second book that had a massive impact on simplifying my life was…
I’m not going to lie to you, decluttering your life is a long and often hard process. There will be times when you want to give up, I certainly did. However, I also cannot stress enough how much of a positive impact it has had on our lives.
It was totally worth the seemly endless trips to the charity shop and the hours spent going through files on my computer. In reality, it took me 2 whole years to get to the point where I felt like I was finally winning my war on clutter.
In a way, it’s also never-ending. You’ll have to maintain the standard you’ve worked so hard to achieve but if you stay on top of it by doing a little bit every day it will never again be as overwhelming as the initial declutter.
I’m not a particularly disciplined person, in fact, I’m quite the opposite but I have managed to do this so I truly believe that you can too.
Related Post: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than You’re Mess
Step Two: Organise
Never try to organise before you declutter. It just doesn’t work. You really need to get rid of everything you no longer want first and then start to organise.
There is a quote that I absolutely love…
‘If you have to buy stuff, to store your stuff, you might have too much stuff’
If you organise after decluttering then it becomes so much more enjoyable. I have loved finding homes for the items we have left.
During this whole process, one thing I have learnt about organising is that every single item in your house must have a home. I mean everything from your pens to your spare batteries.
I even went as far as buying a label maker, yes sad I know, but it actually makes me really happy. I love opening our drawers and seeing the little labels and then the correct items next to them.
When everything has a home not only do you spend less time looking for things but it’s also easier to tidy as you know where everything must go back to.
As an example, my daughter couldn’t find her sunglasses this morning. She went into complete meltdown mode opening and shutting all of our drawers looking for them.
I told her she was wasting her time as I knew for a fact they weren’t in any of them. I have a small draw by the front draw that is for sunglasses, complete with a label. If I had picked them up to tidy them away I would have put them in that draw. They weren’t in there.
The conclusion I came to is that she had left her glasses somewhere on her travels, they were not in our home. I love being in control of what is and isn’t in our home.
How To Begin with Organising
I found the best way, to begin with organising it to start with one area at a time. Find an area that needs organising and Google organisation ideas for it. For example, We constantly seemed to have various electronic devices being charged from every socket in the house. It drove me nuts!
I decided to take action and bought a *bamboo charging station. Now all of our devices get charged there. Everyone knows where to find their gadget and they also know where they need to be returned to when they’ve finished with them.
If you need some home organisation inspiration take a look at my board on Pinterest. I’d like to share a blog with some pictures of our home but it’s not quite done yet and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Let me know if that’s something you’d like to see though.
As with decluttering, organising doesn’t just relate to stuff. It also includes things like your daily activities, your household chores and cleaning. It’s worth investing in a good home organiser or create your own.
Spend some time sorting through all of the things you need to do and make tick lists/charts/schedules for them all, then hang them somewhere where you can see them often.
Step Three: Beautify your Surroundings
Until recently I had completely overlooked this stage. I’d done the decluttering and the organising, our home was looking a lot neater but something still didn’t feel right. I couldn’t really put my finger on it until I read one book.
The book was called *L’Art de la Simplicite: How To Live with Less by Dominique Loreau.
Beauty is a Need
Dominique goes into great detail about why you should make your home look beautiful.
‘Beauty in all forms is indispensable to our well-being. As human beings, we need more beauty than we realise or may seem reasonable. Our souls need beauty just as our body needs air, water and food. Without beauty, we become sad, depressed, sometimes even deranged.’
This is the bit that was missing from our home. Yes, it was clean, organised and had a lot less stuff but it still wasn’t pleasing to the eye. So, we’ve set on a mission to ‘beautify’ our home. This won’t happen overnight obviously, as redecorating is expensive but at least we’ve made a start.
‘Details are enormously important. When everything is just right, we feel in balance. Perfect details leave us free to concentrate on ‘bigger’ things. But when small details are neglected, they are a source of constant irritation.’
Another book that you may find useful during the ‘beautifying’ stage is Marie Kondo’s second book, *Spark Joy. In this book, Marie suggests creating a vision board for how you want your home to be. This gives you a clear idea of what you are aiming for.
I really hope you’ve found these 3 steps to simplifying your life helpful. If you are currently giving you life a makeover I’d love to hear about it.
Are you interested in simplifying your own life? If so why not try my FREE 7 Days To Simplify your Life eCourse.