Category Archives: Organizing

Top 5 January To-Dos for a Simpler 2015

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I am not in the habit of making new years resolutions. However, there are a few things that I will be doing this month to help simplify 2015. This is not a definitive list, but by adding these items to your January ‘to-do’ list, you’ll be on your own Journey to Simple in 2015.

Make your holiday gift list for 2015
I know this may sound like overkill, but take a moment to recall the busyness leading up to Christmas 2014 and you’ll be convinced. Writing a gift list early in the year will enable you to take advantage of sales throughout the year. You can also chip away at the list one gift at a time instead of the panicked shopping spree the week before Christmas. The greatest benefit for me is the early reminder to start making homemade gifts. I am the slowest knitter in world, so I better start knitting my Dad’s 2015 Christmas scarf now.

2) Clean out your freezer
Throw out the freezer burnt items, pull everything out, make an inventory, do whatever you need to do to make sure that you are eating everything that you have in your freezer. I live in such a cold climate, that I go a little loopy when Farmer’s Market season hits in June or July. I want to eat all of the fresh local produce I can, so I don’t touch anything in my freezer until the snow flies. Cleaning out your freezer now will help ensure that you eat everything this winter and will eliminate the waste that can come with leaving everything untouched during the summer months.

3) Plan your vacation days (for the entire year)
Yes, I am the person submitting an entire year’s worth of vacation day requests on January 2nd. Knowing that I can take time off when I hope to makes it possible to plan everything else that happens all year. I can go ahead and book my campground sites and buy my event tickets without any concern about whether or not I can get the time off. Also, requesting holiday days forces you to think about the finances involved in planning a trip, the family you may want to visit, or the home projects that need to get done. Do yourself a favour, and plan your year in January.

4) Pick an organizing project
A big part of my personal Journey to Simple is home organization. I may want my goal for 2015 to be a perfectly organized home, but I know that is unrealistic (that’s why it’s a journey). Remove the pressure for perfection and pick one big project. For me, 2015 will be the year of paper. I will prioritize the filing cabinet and boxes full of notes, projects, music, and bills. Pick one project and give yourself permission to break it up into smaller projects throughout the year.

5) Make a money date with yourself
For the third year in a row, my husband and I will be setting aside time on New Year’s day to talk about money. This fifth ‘to-do’ item will impact all other tasks that you accomplish this year. Some people find talking and thinking about money stressful and complicated. Simplify your life and your year by making some decisions about money in January. How much will my holiday cost? What will the new deck cost? How much can I save? How much can I give to charity? By setting aside a specific time (even once a year) to consider some of these questions, you eliminate the anxiety that comes with unspoken and unrealized financial goals and plans.

Take some time this month to simplify 2015.

I would love to hear what you are doing to make 2015 a simple year. Leave a comment below.

Appreciating what you have…like an awesome music collection

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A big part of my personal Journey to Simple has been about focusing on appreciating what I already have.  My family, my time, my health, my awesome dog, and my possessions.  In my efforts to edit and and to get rid of the excess, I started to stumble upon unused items throughout the house.  Some items were easy to part with, while others where like finding forgotten treasures.  One example of a long lost and neglected treasure, was our CD collection.

Ok, it wasn’t lost at all.  In fact, all of our CDs had been in plain sight on a shelf in the basement.  Most of them had been sitting there since we moved in to our current home, and many of them had not been listened to in over a decade.  In one of my more ambitious attempts to Edit and Forget It, I looked at the shelf full of unloved musical gems and I made the immediate decision to do three things:

  1. Transfer all of the music to my computer – easy access makes it more likely that I will listen to the music
  2. Donate all of the CDs to a thrift store so that more people can enjoy them – this also has the dual purpose of getting additional clutter out of the house
  3. Actually listen to the music that I own – taking action towards my simplicity goal of appreciating what I have

*Warning* Getting rid of clutter while simultaneously reconnecting with the beloved soundtrack of your life will provide more joy than you expect!

I could not have anticipated how enjoyable the process of going through the CDs ended up being.   Music is one of the simplest pleasures that we have available to us; appreciating music is a lifelong hobby requiring very little commitment and no there is no skill needed on our part.  Memories of my childhood love for musicals, my enjoyment of folk music, and the attempt I once made to enjoy classical music were revived.  I enjoyed the process of going through the music. Thanks to the computer, I am much more likely to continue listening for years to come.  Keep in mind, digitizing your music library will take time (it took me an entire day to do about 200 albums).  I put on the Lord of The Rings trilogy and started to upload the CDs one by one.  After each album was finished being added to iTunes, I put it directly into a box headed for the thrift store.  I delivered my box to the thrift store the following day.  I liberated myself of some physical things while retaining what I originally loved about those things – all in two days.

The simple decision to take action on a forgotten treasure has helped me to appreciate what I have, which is a step forward on my Journey to Simple. Based on personal experience, I can say that the best time for you to reconnect with your music library is today!

Don’t forget to leave a comment about appreciating something that you have.

Letting Go of the Excess

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For me, a big part of simple living is about loving your home.  After my lost luggage incident, I became increasingly interested in packing light.  The more that I thought about it, the more I wondered why I wasn’t living light.  Why did I own ten pairs of jeans that were only suitable for house cleaning and painting? Do I really need all of the grade two spelling tests that my mother saved from my elementary school years?  I also began to realize that my frequently cluttered and messy home was causing me unnecessary confusion and stress.  

At the same time, I had starting listening to the Simple Life Together podcast and signed up to participate in the Edit and Forget It challenge that the listeners were challenged to take on.  The basic idea is to rid yourself of 2013 items during the year 2013.  The challenge intrigued me and I jumped right in.  I imagined tackling each drawer, shelf, or cabinet in the house until I had achieved organizational perfection.  I imagined ‘Pinterest’ worthy DIY organization.  What actually happened was a few hours of zealous purging and many days of overwhelmed inaction.  I was in denial about how much ‘stuff’ I owned.  What I realized is that getting rid of 2013 items was going to require a mental shift; a change in how I look at the space that I have and how I think about living in that space.  In the end, I had a lot of fun completing the challenge and have moved on to editing 2014 things in 2014.  Here are my top five tips that I have learned while moving from reluctant de-clutterer to simplified living:

1. Act as though you are moving: Every object in your home deserves the question ‘Would I move this to another province/state/country?’  If the answer is no, ask yourself why you are keeping it now.

2. Start small: De-clutter one box or drawer before tackling your overflowing kitchen or garage.  You will stick with a small project and gain motivation for larger ones.

3. Make short and long term goals: A whole house could take weeks, months, or years to edit and reorganize.  Go room by room or drawer by drawer.  Every step counts.

4. Plan on re-visiting: As someone who had a hard time letting go of some items, it would only take a few minutes for me to get bogged down in the decision making process.  Now I work on an area until I begin to feel overwhelmed and then decide to stop and revisit in a few hours, days, or weeks.

5. Seize the day…..or moment: If you see something sitting around and you wonder why you are holding on to it, add it to the donate pile/recycling bin/garbage immediately.  Take advantage of the spontaneous moments when the feeling to purge or simplify strikes in an unplanned way.

Keep in mind, none of this is to criticize how much we all own and consume.  For me, editing my possessions has been about realizing that some of the things that I own only cause stress and clutter.  This aspect of my Journey to Simple has been all about figuring out what possessions I need, love, or provide a better quality of life, and getting rid of the excess.

Don’t forget to leave a comment about how you approach simplifying your home.