mindful living

Decluttering: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time and Keep Your Sanity

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I grew up in an organized, simple house. It was a typical 4 bed, 3 bath house in a Phoenix suburb. My dad skewed toward most minimalist habits when it came to accumulating things and my mom was constantly cleaning. (I attribute the joy I get now from cleaning to her!) Overall, they were tidy when it came to stuff. Neither liked dark, contrasting colors on the walls or prints that detracted from a room. They gravitated toward neutral tones and less instead of more. Of course, I didn't realize when I was little. It wasn't until I ventured over to other peoples' houses and saw the ratio difference. Even the outside of our house was streamlined. No weeds, a manicured lawn and the cars were always parked inside the garage. A wild concept for a large population of people with garages. Am I right?

This rubbed off on me throughout the years. I think a person's upbringing and environment has a lot to do with how they end up curating and grooming their own space - be it good or bad. Having said that, it doesn't determine how your space will be. Nope, you've got the freewill and power to do it all on your own regardless of what surrounded you as a kid. 

For me, my idea of decluttering became an even more important part of my life after I got married. My husband is AMAZING at organizing. He could do it all day if you let him and he's good. So good that I'm confident he could make a living doing it. I thought I was organized until I married him. I have him to thank for the true organization of our house. 

No matter you're upbringing or current status now, I'm here to share 4 simple ways to declutter and organize your house one room at a time without feeling overwhelmed and while keeping your sanity. End goal? Create a calmer, more enjoyable living space. Here's how:

1. Start with one room at a time. Tackle your house room by room so this way, you experience small wins each time a new space has been simplified. Any kind of win is a great thing! So start with one room and take inventory of what's inside of it. Especially when you're overwhelmed and burdened with the load in front of you. So, let's say you start with your living room. What's taking up the space? Do you have a couch and love-seat and chair and ottoman? What about on the walls? Do you see a plethora of frames hanging every which way? Take a visual inventory and notice every single thing that you can see by staring at your room. 

2. Begin sifting and sorting everything in sight that doesn't serve an actual purpose. For example, if your electronics work, then they serve a purpose. If they're broke then they don't. Shelves and entertainment centers can be really bad collection zones. Try tackling those first. So let's say you have an entertainment center full of what makes sense and then layered on it and in the drawers you find books, warranty manuals, old remotes with broken parts, movies, CDs, etc. In this example, an entertainment center might best serve you if it holds your television, electronics and supporting media such as DVDs (if you still buy those), a few magazines or accessories. What's left after that? Remove any loose paper, miscellaneous toys or items that were put there but don't belong or that are broken. Keep repeating this step until you have only what makes the most sense for that given area. (You're a smart one, you'll know what makes sense after you keep after it!)

3. Pair back on the decor. I know, this one may sound a little strange and can put some people on the defense but the point is to streamline your space and limiting the amount of stuff you have out will do just that. Promise. Once you've eliminated the stuff that doesn't belong, take another pass and be honest with yourself about the amount of decor you have in that space. Ask yourself, what can I remove that should not be here? Perhaps you have one too many candles or vases. Can you see the surface of the furniture? Pair back things like the amount of books you have. You'll be amazed and what this sort of trimming does to your space. Repeat steps 1-3 until you are satisfied with your new, calmer, simplified space. Then move to the next room. Again, go through your house one space at a time so you don't get too stressed with the stuff. Decluttering can be extremely overwhelming if you bite off more than you can chew. 

4. Find your own Feng Shui. I'm not saying you need to go out and study the actual way to achieve Feng Shui but I am saying that if you want to create a calmer, simplified living environment then ask yourself if you feel a sense of calm when you're sitting, sleeping, talking, walking in your space. Will others feel this sense of calm, too? It might be necessary to make adjustments to your decor such as removing a few more decorations or toning down the visual display of clutter if there is still too much. It might be that you've organized and purged as much as possible but the space can still seem too overwhelming. If that's the case, then take a look at what items are still out (meaning they aren't in drawers or closets). If you can put the items you want to keep out-of-sight, then I'm confident you'll see major improvements in your space.

Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to creating a more organized and calmer living environment. Keep me posted!

RELATED POST: Top 4 Things Creating Clutter In Your House & Why You Should Get Rid of It

4 Ways to Be More Present in a Tech-Driven World

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It's been a while since I last updated my readers but since we last spoke, I became a MOM. And it is WONDERFUL. Something that I'm reminding myself of daily is that living in the present moment is more important now than ever because each day my little bundle of joy keeps getting bigger and if I don't slow down, I'll miss moments that I don't want to miss. Moments that I can't redo.

For me, living in the present moment with him means turning my phone to silent and giving my little guy undivided attention. It's not always easy but I really believe it's vital. I think the most unfortunate thing would be for me to be glued to my phone just to wake up one day and realize that he's all grown up and I missed it because I was more concerned with something like social media feeds. 

Given that I'm a new mom, I'm no expert and I certainly don't claim to know everything but I have been studying simple living and ways to improve a little more each day. So whether you have kids or not, this list of four ways to be more present in a tech-driven world still apply. Take them or leave them but I hope they help you think about being present.

  1. Give yourself a social media schedule. Yeah, it might sound elementary but give yourself allotted time(s) in your day where you allow yourself to check your social feeds. If you're addicted (like a large majority of society) then this will help you limit how much your checking feeds and will provide a healthier cadence for perusing platforms like Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. An example might be that you allow yourself 10 minutes during lunch or after your loved ones go to bed.
  2. Establish an expectation with others you're regularly in communication with. Half the battle of becoming more present is letting others (be it coworkers or friends and family) know that you're working on savoring each moment. Let others know in advance when you're going to be out-of-pocket and either unavailable or slow to respond. This way you won't blindside anyone who has an urgent message for you and on the flip side, you'll have less anxiety about getting back to your phone to respond to incoming beeps and dings.
  3. Silence is golden. When you're with your loved ones silence your phone. It's one step closer to out of sight and out of mind. Often things like work emails interrupt us (like every. single. minute. of our day) and it's important to delay their opening and remember to really BE in the moment. Silencing the phone and flipping the screen over so you can't see it helps force you to be in the moment.
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. If silence isn't enough to get you to keep your fingers off your phone then put it in a different room. If you're hanging out in the living room decompressing, keep your phone in the kitchen or laundry room. Consider a location where you won't hear it or have the urge to pick it up. Once your family time is over, then you can grab it and start back on vetting through your inbox.

Leave a comment and let me know how you're working on being present. I'd love to hear other ideas!

RELATED POST: Send and Receive

Mindful Living Is

To me, mindful living is something that has a fundamental meaning but manifests itself in various ways during different times in a month or a year. Lately, mindful living for me has been:

  • Thinking about my day before I get up in the morning
  • Eating more grains
  • Appreciating the sunshine
  • Cherishing moments with my husband and my dog, Roo
  • Indoor gardening

How and Why I Started Simplifying My Life

I've realized a few things while living in big cities working in somewhat glorified industries and living in a culture where being glued to a smartphone is standard. That one thing is that we don't take time to pause. I'm not sure my generation ever did pause. I reached my mid-twenties and was already burned out on the flood of information I got in the form of emails, tweets, Facebook posts, instant messages and texts in a single day. As things turned out, I have this flood of communication to thank for the fact that if I'm not on my iPhone I'm thinking about being on my phone for fear of missing out on some piece of content that may need my reply.

I'm already an anxious person. I worry, I think too much and I wonder about things beyond my reach and out of my control. So, taking myself away from technology is great but since I'm conditioned to always 'be on' I experience restlessness. So where does this leave me? To practice the art of leaving my phone a few feet away and reminding myself there's no rush. I'm slowly starting to do this in my professional and personal life and it's taking some time to get used to because I always want to please and I always want to be responsive. But those things are neither realistic nor healthy most of the time.

RELATED POST: Mental Shift: How to Move Past the Honeymoon Phase of Minimalism

Minimal Mindset: Living Within Our Means

Part of being a minimalist, or in my case, starting to live like one is becoming aware of comparison. I know a handful of people (and have been guilty of it myself) who compare their small houses to their neighbors' big ones. Their old, yet paid off car, to someone's new leased one. Having lived in LA I've observed people who love, love to drive fancy cars. Have you seen where many of them live? The house doesn't align with the car parked in front of it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Hsieh a few years ago. In case you don't know he's the one who started that little brand called Zappos. After meeting him I was completely shocked and really surprised to see how humble and unassuming he is. According to reports, Hsieh is worth almost $1 billion. He lives in a normal, yet nice apartment and wears the same t-shirts as you and I. If Tony, one of the most successful businessmen and pioneers of company culture ever, can live under his means then I've got something to shoot for because it's working out for him. He's got a bigger picture in mind. He keeps what's most important as his focus and disregards what would be relatively frivolous for anyone at his level.

We may not all be business masterminds but I think we can apply his minimal approach to our own lives. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating we all drive junky cars and eat ramen. Talk to my husband about this and he'll tell you how I really want a Volvo XC 90 as our future family car. What I am saying is let's not compare our "lack" of stuff to someone else's abundance and maybe we can aim to live slightly below our means instead of spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need to impress people we don't know or shouldn't care about impressing in the first place.