Create space for the important things in life by eliminating the stuff you don’t need.
Why do we have so much stuff? There are many factors that contribute to our lives, our minds and our spaces becoming cluttered, but did you know that hanging onto superfluous stuff can actually affect your well-being? It’s true. Studies have shown that in an organized space, people are more productive and they feel more accomplished, more in control of their life and more relaxed. Check out this interesting infographic on The OKA Blog with stats about how clutter affects you, your work, your personal life, and even how others perceive you.
So, you want to simplify and get more organized. Where do you start? Whether you’re moving or just want to make the most of your home or your work space, the best place to start is by getting rid of clutter. “Clutter can cause chaos and stress in your life. We spend too much time looking for things, cleaning up, and rearranging our stuff,” says Jamie Wells, owner/founder of Simplify. “It gets to the point where your stuff starts to own you. The more time you spend trying to manage it, the less time you have to enjoy the things that are important to you.”
After giving birth to twin daughters, Wells, who had a burgeoning career in marketing and branding, felt overwhelmed by all the clutter that came with taking care of two babies. “I realized if my home is like this, other people’s homes are probably like this, too.” When her girls turned four, she and her husband quit their jobs, put everything in storage and went on a year-long sabbatical to Australia and New Zealand. “The four of us lived out of a camper van and realized we needed very few things to in our lives to make us happy. What we learned was that living in the moment and being present and enjoying our surroundings was what brought us joy.”
Upon their return, Wells founded Simplify. “After reflecting on our trip, I decided I wanted to help others get rid of the clutter in their lives to create space for the things they truly love,” Wells says. “That’s when I decided to start my company.”
Organizing your home starts with one simple step: “You have to make a decision that you’re ready to let go of the things in your home and in your life that don’t serve any purpose for you anymore.” Wells acknowledges that while in theory it’s simple, it might not always be easy. “It can be really emotional for some people. But it’s important to see that it’s an opportunity to let go of the chaos and stress that clutter can cause and create more space in your life to be able to spend more time doing the things we love. There is value in simplicity. More can be accomplished with less.”
Wells breaks down the steps of “simplification” to help make this seemingly impossible task less daunting. There are three steps that she calls SOP: Sort, Organize, and Purge.
Make this large task smaller by breaking your belongings down into categories and go through them one at a time. For example, begin with something simple, like jackets. Go through all your closets and sort your jackets into “keep pile” and a “purge pile”. Ask yourself: Do I use this? When is the last time I used it? Do I love it? Does it bring me joy? How many do I have? Can I purchase this item another time? If it’s been more than a year since you’ve used it, get rid of it.
Find a place for each item that you are keeping and keep storage simple. Store items by category (kitchen appliances, spices, winter clothes, camping gear, etc). Consolidate each category; evaluate the size of the space required to store these items; and THEN purchase storage bins, baskets, and containers. Make sure the storage containers fit the space where they will live—measure the space accurately and purchase matching containers. This is when a label machine comes in handy. I also recommend clear bins so you can see what’s inside. When not using containers, mark your shelves (this might apply for linen closets, bedroom closets, kitchen appliances, and shelves in your garage).
The “purge pile” needs to go. Resell, recycle, donate, or toss. Use online marketplaces (eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, Amazon) for items with residual value. Host a garage sale for those items you don’t sell online. View the garage sale as an opportunity to have people pay you to take away your junk. These activities are liberating: you will purge your unwanted goods and generate revenue to compensate for your time and storage bin purchases. Whatever doesn’t sell at the garage sale should be donated to a thrift store or deposited in the nearest recycle bin or dumpster.
One last rule of staying organized: For every new item you buy, one item has to go.
For more information on Simplify, contact Jamie Wells.