Once again, I’m kicking off the year with a re-energized burst of wanting less stuff, and more time. More stuff breeds more stuff, which has huge upstream impacts in terms of waste, greenhouse gasses, toxins, water use etc. Here at the Rethink Waste Project, we recognize that materials matter, that the biggest impacts are upstream, and that there are ways to discard things responsibly. Yet no matter how little I actually buy new things, I still often feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in my small home. Papers. Gloves. Toys. Pens. Business cards. I feel like no matter what, I am CONSTANTLY putting things away, and it eats into my free time. Wouldn’t this be easier if I had less? If everything had a home? If I had daily systems and rituals? Wouldn’t I have more time for playing, planning and powder days? At the very least, having a tidy space gives me a sense of calm, so here’s how I’m going to try it, this time.
1. Deal. With. All. The. Mail.
This is where I will start, because it’s the biggest issue in our household. I wish it was all junk mail. That would be easy, but I already opted out and get very little junk mail at this point. Junk mail that does come I try to recycle right away without it getting into the pile. I just don’t have a system in place for dealing with mail, papers, bills, things i need to file, etc. In fact, I’m the worst case example in this blog, which is why I am going to use the 6 suggestions from Zen Habits. Create a mail center (we have one, cluttered with old mail and papers.). Have 1 inbox (again, have it, but’s its overflowing with old mail/paper). Process 1x/week (OK, that’s what I don’t do.) Pay Bills immediately. Enter stuff into calendars and To Do Lists. File Immediately (Again, something I don’t do). I’m going to add onto that, to sign up for paperless bills for as many as possible while I’m at it. Here’s to forming new habits, I’ll let you know how it goes!
2. Does It Spark Joy?
This is how Marie Kondo would start it. Her “Konmari” method is to start by piling up all similar items together, for example ALL your jackets (from multiple closets, storage, etc), then one by one holding the item, and letting go of those that don’t spark joy. Thank it for its service, and let it go. Start with easy to let go things, like clothes, then move on to tougher more sentimental items. With less random things in your home, whats left are things you only love. I read the book last year and I have gone through my clothes, and I must admit I have taken up her weird sock folding method, but I need to revisit this with the rest of the items. I downloaded this list to help, and just found her new app. We’ll see which is better.
3. A Place for Everything, and Everything In Its Place.
Although Benjamin Franklin said this eons ago, this is an idea that I learned in preschool. Not my preschool, unfortunately, or I might have better habits as an adult. But my daughters Montessori classroom. Everything has a spot, and the kids practice putting their work away before they begin the next project. So my new quest is to make sure everything I love/want/need to have in my home has a place. If something gets a spot in my little home, I better love it. It better be worth the real estate. If not, I’m going to cull it and pass it on to someone else who can love it. If everything has a place, tidying up goes way faster leaving more time for other things. In our post Christmas gift exchange house, new spots must be found, so another round of culling is in order.
As I’m reminded from previous blog posts I’ve written on this same topic, the less I have, the less I have to organize.