How do I find space and time in my life?
Finding more space and more time are the two most common challenges for many of us. How do I find space in my home and office for the things I really need and love? How do I open psychic space in my head and quiet all the noise? Finding and creating more time is a very common organizing goal for my clients as well. So how do I find space and time in my life? You will find more space, more time and more joy by letting go of the stuff that’s holding you down and holding you back. All of this includes stuff we’ve purchased, stuff we’ve been gifted, stuff we don’t need or use – it all takes up physical and psychic space. Caring for our stuff takes up a lot of time as well. Repairs, upkeep, moving and storing our stuff is time consuming. Purging our unwanted and unneeded items frees up that time to do things we really want to do.
How do I find more joy?
We find joy when we are truly in the moment and doing something we enjoy. In a space overcrowded with unneeded and unused items, we cannot find joy in our space. If we are spending our time and money buying, fixing, maintaining and trying to find our stuff, we lose time that could be better spent doing something we love. The average American spends 40 minutes a day trying to find something – a book, soccer cleats, an insurance policy. If we keep only those things that serve us and keep them organized, we won’t waste time looking for things. What do you want to spend your time and money on? An adventure? Travel? Time with family and friends? Clearing out the clutter and the noise in our lives gives us back that lost time.
Space, time and money are finite. Let go of the stuff and you’ll find more space, more time and more joy in your life.
What is this thing really worth?
For most of us, we have things that we value highly for a number of reasons – purchase price, sentimentality, rarity, etc. And because we treasure our things, our spaces are full of stuff – some of which we’ve purchased ourselves and some that has been gifted. I believe that you should have two things in your home – things you need and things you love. To get organized and stay organized, we need to keep things that truly work for us – the needed and the loved. So how do I determine the value of an item? How do I decide if this is worth keeping? And if I want to let it go, what is its sale price for resale?
Intrinsic vs market value
Especially with items that had a hefty price tag, we often want to recoup some of the expense. So how do I determine what it’s worth? There are two different kinds of value. Intrinsic worth is the value something has in itself; i.e. a mixer. 15 years ago you bought this mixer, you used it a lot and it was very helpful and handy at one point. This has a lot of intrinsic value to you. The market worth is different. The market price is what “the market” will pay for this item today, right now, in its current condition. With designer and electronic items especially, change and upgrading happens so rapidly items purchased just a couple of years ago loose significant value quickly as a “newer and better” model or two hits the market. If you are trying to determine an item’s market price, eBay is a great resource. eBay has the best pricing algorithm available due to the sheer volume of items for sale on its site.
If you loved and used an item, it has served its intrinsic value well. Find a list of resources to donate your unneeded and unused items. An item’s resale worth is likely going to be much less than what you paid but the outcome of opening up your space is absolutely greater.
How many screwdrivers do I really need?
One of the biggest challenges for many people when they are trying to get organized is “what do I do with all this stuff”? When we start organizing a space, the volume can be overwhelming. For most of us, when we can’t find what we are looking for, we purchase another. So gather all the soccer cleats, hammers, black sweaters, phone chargers, etc – whatever item you are organizing – and decide on how many you REALLY need to keep. Purging what you already have starts the process. Once you have the items you want to move out of your space, now what do I do with all this stuff? Donating is a wonderful choice. You get the space back and help someone else in the process. And donating your unneeded and used items couldn’t be easier – see the list of resources on how to donate just about anything.
How do I donate this thing-y??
Toys and books taking up space and gathering dust now that “the kids” are in college? Donate to Big Brothers/Big Sisters to be reused and re-loved. Old prom and bridesmaid dresses get to see the dance floor again and household items you’ll never use make a house a home for another family. Think also about specific people who might need an item. A niece moving into her first apartment? She’d love those extra pots and pans but get them to her right away. Holding onto items for “future” donations just adds to your volume and disorganization. Do you think your item still has real value? Slightly used electronics, designer clothes and high end home items fall in this category. Online yard sales and resellers (think eBay and other sources) can net you some cash if you have the time and inclination to resell your items. As you go through your purging process, put aside the items that you might want to resell vs. donate and focus first on your donations. Control your stuff, don’t let your stuff control you. Donate or resell your used and unneeded items and open up space in your home and your life.
Is something coming into your space?
What’s your greatest organizing challenge? The most common response is “I don’t have enough storage space”. Yes, there are ways to create more storage space but you also have to limit the volume of things that come in. There are many things you cannot control but what comes into your space is something you can and must control. Nothing comes into your home or office without your permission so that is really the critical point. “Something in, something out” is a great rule for managing volume in your home or office. Space is a limited thing and volume – which is often really the biggest organizing challenge – cannot exceed your space. Too much volume in too small a space equals clutter and chaos. So how do I manage “something in, something out”?
Something has to leave your space…
The first step is to really understand what you already have. For most of us, when we can’t find what we are looking for, we purchase a second. So gather all the soccer cleats, hammers, black sweaters, phone chargers, etc – whatever item you are organizing – and decide on how many of that item you REALLY need to keep. Three black sweaters is the right number? Great – donate the rest. It’s best to house them in the master closet on a hanger? Great – hang them up. Now here’s where the rule gets applied: If you end up buying another black sweater, one of the “old” sweaters HAS to go. Something in, something out. This rule is especially important to apply when you are shopping. Another black sweater might look like a great deal but remember, when you get home, one black sweater MUST go. By doing this, you are limiting volume so that it does not exceed your space. If you force yourself to think and purchase by this organizing rule, you limit the things that enter the home and you save money.
Controlling what comes in and out of our space is one of the keys to staying organized and not allowing clutter to start. Yes, it’s hard to manage other people’s things but creating and applying this rule to everyone is key. Something in, something out manages volume and money.
Reduce your volume and reuse your storage
How can being organized also be good for the environment and your wallet? REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. Reducing the volume of items that enter your space is the first important step. There are things in life you cannot control but what comes into your space is something you can control. Nothing comes into your space without your permission. REDUCE the volume of what enters as a starting point. You will have less stuff to deal with and less to organize now and in the future. Can you REUSE an item in a different space or purpose? Can a bookshelf or table originally in a bedroom be reused in the playroom or entry way? How about those extra shelves that are no longer needed in the kids’ playroom being repurposed in the garage for storage? Baskets and bins that used to house toys in the kids’ bedroom? Reuse in the craft room for yarns and other craft supplies. Organizing doesn’t require elaborate systems and products and a system can often be created with existing products. When starting an organizing project, resist the urge to go out and purchase boxes and bins or a fancy organizing systems – there are many available and they are great. But first REUSE what you already have and “shop at home” to find organizing solutions without buying new products and spending money.
Recycle your stuff
RECYCLING has a connotation for keeping things out of the trash and yes, that is one meaning. Purging what you already have in your space starts the process and then RECYCLE – pass on anything unneeded or used. You can find a list of resources here to donate just about anything. For most of us, when we can’t find what we are looking for, we purchase another. So gather all the soccer cleats, hammers, black sweaters, phone chargers, etc – whatever item you are organizing – and decide on how many you REALLY need to keep. And don’t limit the idea of REYCLING to what you can give away. Think online yard sales, eBay and other sources for purchasing NEEDED gently used, expensive items more economically. REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE – save money, time and resources.
Why let it go?
When it comes to managing your space – home or office – less is definitely more. Most people struggle with how to let it go – and where and how – but the first step is definitely “what really should I let go?” Most of us accumulate “stuff” over the years – stuff when we move into a home, stuff from our childhood, stuff that we are “gifted” – so what do we do with all this “stuff”? The first question is to ask is “Do I REALLY need it?” Should I let go of a waffle iron if I never make waffles or a beer making kit if I don’t drink beer? These items are often gifts we’ve received that we have never used and don’t ever envision using. Let it go – donate it and move it on – find a list of resources for donating here. The china we’ve inherited from our Grandma but don’t use that often but really love? Find a way to display it and use it and enjoy it. The mixer and blender we use every day? Find appropriate counter space and make using these items easier.
When I should NOT let it go…
The second question to ask is “Do I love it?” If looking at the vase that you bought at the yard sale gives you joy, keep it and find a place to display it. The painting your former boyfriend’s mother gave you as a gift and you never really liked it? Let it go – maybe someone else has just that right wall space to fill. The two things we should have in our home are things we NEED and things we LOVE. You need your vacuum cleaner and your crockpot so you keep them. You love your antique glassware and shell collection from your honeymoon in the islands – keep them because looking at them brings you joy.
If looking at something makes you cringe, LET IT GO. It takes up negative physical, mental and emotional space in your life. Keep the joy, let the rest go…