I am self-help junkie who subscribes to the philosophy, ‘If even for a second you’ve looked inward and considered possible ways to improve what you’re doing—then you’re already making a difference.’
Simplification Step One: Lower Expectations!
I spent much of my life expecting near perfection from myself and those around me. It was unrealistic and would instead manifest disappointment, failure, and frustration. (Shocking!) While I often need to be reminded of my new and unimproved lower standards, it doesn’t mean I can’t aim high.
The difference, whether keeping a house tidy or planning a mind-blowing idea on how to change the world (updating a blog post!) is that I’m now much more forgiving to myself and others. I plan to be great (obvi) but take outside factors (a sick child, a canceled appointment, TEENAGERS!) or inside factors (struggling with anxiety, finding a chin hair) and grade myself (and others) more gently, on the Bell Curve.
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Creating order relieves anxiety and reduces stress. Psychologists are beginning to recognize that having a clean, organized home is an essential part of the wellness equation. (If anything else, having a neat home means you’re less likely to be judged should your in-laws need to storm your home in the midst of an emergency!) Whatever your motive for getting your messy little ducks in a row—the benefits will outweigh the loss!
Being organized, mentally and physically, sets you on a clear path to success. Consider it the good night sleep and healthy balanced breakfast before class. (So we’re going with the school analogies!) Your homework is done—your bags are packed at the door. Good girl.
Should you need the massive overhaul, the dumpster, the crane to take the piles away, you’ll likely need to set your sights on something beyond these handouts! If you’d like to dabble on your own, here are some of my favorite experts to learn from.
Marie Kondo may be your new best friend. Read and follow to change your life, or simply grab some popcorn and fall in love watching the most darling woman alive. She has a successful Youtube and her new Netflix series is a raging success. You’ll be happier having met her.
If you like a British Accent and a straight forward plan, you’ll love Peter Walsh. He was my gateway guru to organization spanning back to when Oprah was still our great source of knowledge.
Brooke Christen is as sweet as pie. She’s the brains behind one of my favorite blogs, Nesting With Grace. Offering practical tips on design and organization, she works on her 1950’s tiny cape (1200 sq. feet) with her family of 5. Amongst many other things, she shares this tidying checklist to keep you on track.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy For The Home
Spending fifteen minutes turning the house upside down to find misplaced items can drive an entire house mad. I. speak. from. experience. Take a quick inventory of these small struggles that hold a significant impact on family flow. Keys, sunglasses, headphones—the Yeti that hasn’t made it to the sink Yeti again! Once you’ve identified these areas of difficulty, make simple systems to replace them.
Dishes: Wash them and put away after each meal.
Mail: check your mail at the mailbox, recycle junk before entering the house.
Keys, bag, glasses, phone, headphones, chargers, remotes: make a home for each item and KEEP THEM THERE.
Water bottle & travel coffee mug: wash and store in travel bag after each use.
Bed: Make it when you get up.
Teenagers: Tie them up—eeer, get them on board.
Do some laundry each day.
Getting your family on board is important to your sanity and success. Using phrases like ‘I will cut you,’ whispered softly through your teeth won’t benefit anyone. Call a family meeting. If they don’t hop right on the OCD train, that’s okay. Find a home for everything and let them know where it is.
A conversation (If you will.)
‘Do you know where my computer charger is?’
‘You left it next to the sofa. I’ve made a home for it in the top drawer of the desk. That’s where it lives now and I’d appreciate your help with that. If I find your cord (I will wrap it around your ne….) the top drawer is where it’ll be. You no longer have to ask.
It’s not a perfect system…but—expectations.
Let It Go.
The dance to declutter comes in many sizes. It’s an ongoing process that even the tidiest of tiny type-A fairies do the chacha with each day. My most productive time to declutter is to do it when the house is already tidy or clean. If you’re lucky enough to have help with cleaning—get to it right after the cleaners are through (or just after you’ve cleaned).
But I knooow—everything is perfect and put away. That’s just it—everything has a home. (And if it doesn’t, that’s saying something!) When things are neat and put away, it’s easy to see what’s excess, what doesn’t fit and is not needed. Take 30 minutes after each cleaning to weed out what isn’t useful or doesn’t bring you joy. (Thanks, Marie!) You’ll be glad you did.
Hooked On A Feel.
Physical and emotional clutter will hold you back. With all the “to-do’s” to find balance, look good, feel good, blah blah blah—none of it makes much sense if you don’t know why you’re doing it. Bring it back to what makes you feel good.
How do you want to feel?
It’s a personal reflection. Only you’ll know what’s right. Take stock in what makes you feel good and what you want more of, and really consider the ways to bring more of that into your life. Make a list, create a vision board, talk about it with your spouse or friends.
Make It Happen.
Eating well and working out will help you lose weight.
Drinking water and protecting your skin will help you glow.
Simplifying and leading with intention will declutter your space and mind. All of these things will clear a path to success.
You already knew that.
As Gary John Bishop says in Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life – ‘You are wired to win.’ Somewhere in your subconscious, you decided how you want: your success, your home, your habits, your happiness. Everything you choose to do, you’re winning it. (For better or for worse.) You’re here for a reason. Make the choice to make it happen.
I offer these thoughts far from a place of perfection. My laundry piles up from time to time, my bed isn’t always made. I never lose my keys because they’re always in my car. Errrr, scratch that! These simple systems have been formed over years of trial and error, failures and successes, and will be refined for years to come.
You’ve heard my philosophy—’If even for a second you’ve looked inward and considered possible ways to improve what you’re doing—then you’re already making a difference.’
I’m already making a difference, and so will you.
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