Monday, December 12, 2016

My Newfound Energy Booster

Hi Everyone,

It's been awhile. That's because I have a big project going on at my house. I am having professionals remodel most of my kitchen and bathrooms! Pretty exciting, to update those areas. I started purging the items that I could do without, while packing things up for the remodel. Then, while hanging around to help make decisions and answer questions, I began cleaning up other spaces too, including my 30+ years of files.  Thus the reason for this post, something that has put a new bounce in my step, which is the delightful feeling of living in a cleaner and simpler space. Why did I wait so long?

I know this post will probably be useless for some of you, because you already have everything in order, and for that, I applaud you. I've lived in this home since 1989, so you can imagine the task at hand. I didn't consult anyone, or any books or articles before I started. I just dove in. After many trips to Goodwill, and to the garbage bin, I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself.  Yet, there's still more to be done, since I firmly believe that you should divide an overwhelming project into smaller chunks, or goals.

When I decided to write about this epiphany of mine, I chose to look into what the professionals are suggesting.  So, here are some helpful tips for cleaning up your space:

*The goal is not to purge the unnecessary stuff and be done with deep cleaning forever. This is a journey. You can schedule specific days with yourself to go through the house and tidy up areas, such as the first of every month, or choose certain occasions, such as the first day of spring, and the first day of fall.

*Break down the job into several small parts, such as tackling the hall closet, or the bathroom cupboards. Then it won’t seem so overwhelming.  Make a list of these areas, and then attack them one day at a time.  It will feel good to cross things off your list.

*Consider taking photos of various areas in your house where you tend to store and/or display things.  Then, take a critical look at your photos and think of how you could make things look less busy. Perhaps you can even show the photos to an interior designer and get some suggestions from him or her.

*Do you need to add shelving anywhere?  If so, keep the measurements for that area on your phone, so you can be on the lookout for the perfect size you need to purchase.

*One expert suggests that you get rid of one unnecessary item a day.  After a year, you’ll have eliminated 365 items!  Another suggestion is to periodically take a trash bag around the house, and fill it with items you notice you can live without.

*If a room is too overwhelming, consider setting a timer for a reasonable length of time, and then quit for the day, or at least take a break when each time period is over. Is there a reward you could give yourself when a major area is clean?  A manicure? New earrings? Believe me, the boost to your mental health will probably be enough of a reward. It was for me!

*One piece of advice I read about, from more than one person, was that it works better if you purchase new storage containers AFTER you have uncluttered an area.  That way you’ll know what sizes you’ll need.

*Use at least four boxes while sorting. Suggested labels:  Things to Keep; Things to take to Goodwill; Things to Throw Away; and, Things to Take to Another Room (permanently, not temporarily). 

*Ideas for other boxes are:  Things to Try to Sell; and, Things to Give to Friends and/or Coworkers. Are there some things you can place in your front yard with a “FREE” sign?

*Crank up the tunes while you work.  It will be so much more enjoyable.  Some people play episodes of Hoarders while they are working.  They find it motivational, and feel like they are tackling their area long before things become too overwhelming.

*Nicole Anzia of suggests downsizing while you’re going through things.  For example, why would you need so many towels?  Donate some to a pet shelter.  Or, why have so many coats?  Just choose a few, and donate the others.  If you have a lot of books, decide which ones you really need, and give away the rest.  What about your spices?  Have you had some of them for years?  The best way to purchase spices is from a store that sells them in bulk. Just get what you need at the time.

*I remembering reading Marie Kondo's book last summer, titled, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.   The most memorable tip that I gleaned from her book is to hold each item and ask yourself, Does this bring me joy?  Only keep the items that bring you joy.  If you are unsure, then you probably don’t really need to keep it.

*If you haven’t used an item for an entire year, you can probably do without it.

And so, as you can see, working on wellness means working on all areas of health: personal, mental, physical, social, intellectual, and ethical health.  This post is about improving mental health, obviously, but it addresses ethical health too, if you donate some of your belongings to the less fortunate.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a bright and promising new year.