Sunday, 4 January 2015

a happy home in 2015

I usually make a list of intentions and goals for the new year and 2015 is no exception. In fact, I have more than ever this year! To start with though, I need to sort out a few home related things. I feel like once I have these sorted, I can start work on the rest of the things I want to achieve this year. For example, until I sort out the over full wardrobe, arriving at work feeling calm and well put together is going to be harder work than necessary. I plan on doing a few creative courses this year, but I need to be able to pay for them, so I need to just tidy up my finances a little first and budget for them. I also want my home to be the cozy, calm retreat I need after a busy day at work so I need to keep on top of the cleaning and change things around a little. A reduction in stuff is going to help enormously so a bit of a clutter-bust is in order. And lastly, I need more time.

I'm totally convinced that a getting my home into a state that works for me will help me achieve all of these things. If I can clean in an hour, that means more time for running, blogging and seeing friends. If I can get out the door faster in the morning that means an extra 20 minutes of much needed sleep and if there's one thing I'm absolutely determined to do this year is to get that elusive work/life balance sorted so I'm not an exhausted flu ridden mess by the week before Christmas (the last three years have been painful on that front!)

That seems like a massive to do list, and it's not even all of it. Last year, I didn't achieve everything I wanted, but you know what, I didn't really have a plan, so it's not surprising really. This year, I have A Plan:

The Plan starts with Susannah Conways Unraveling The Year Ahead. At least, the non hippy bits that are useful to me. Then, I'm making a HUGE list of absolutely everything that I need/want to do. I'm going to do it one step at a time and I'm giving myself all year to get them done. 2015 is going to be very much a work in progress and if I have to de-clutter one drawer or shelf at a time, so be it. There will be no stone unturned, no ill fitting sweaters left in my wardrobe and not one excess piece of kitchenalia left by December. This is a marathon, not a sprint and allowing myself a whole year to get everything done takes the pressure off, less pressure, less chance for total failure.

I think the reason so many resolutions fail is because people give up at the first set back. If you resolve to give something up, then have a moment of weakness, instead of starting again, people slip back into their old habits and admit defeat. It might take me all year to pare down my belongings, but the time will pass anyway, so even if it happens in fits and starts, it will still be done eventually. The other part of The Plan this year goes like this:

If you're interested in giving your home life an overhaul here are some useful resources. Firstly, I can't recommend apartment Therapy's January Cure enough. It starts this weekend and there's still time to sign up here. Want to start smaller, how about their 5 tips for more happiness at home here? Need inspiration for your rented home? Try Apartment Therapy again, or Design Sponge and while you're there you should check out their 12 tidy homes inspiration round up. You know, it's never too early to spring clean, read my review of an incredibly helpful book 'The Home Handbook' by Rachel Simhom here. Something else I'm fining helpful is a phrase I read somewhere (I forget where!) 

"Your house is not a storage facility"

I'm bearing this in mind in particular while I assess my book collection. If I'm not going to read it (or read it again) or if it's about a subject I'm no longer interested in, I'm just storing it if I keep it, so out it goes, on to someone who will read it and enjoy it. An unread book sitting on a shelf is a very sad thing indeed.

For the really serious tidier/de-clutterer, I recommend these three books:

I read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying last year. It's pretty extreme, but if you do it right, it works. Great practical advice if you have trouble starting your tidying and have issues with books and sentimental items. It was a great help to me when I was getting rid of around 200 books (there's still more to go!) Its essential reading for wardrobe organization as well. The basic premise is that you have to sort all your stuff out all at one. All your clothes together for example, regardless of location, and all in one tidying session. You can tackle each category of belongings one at a time, but it's intensive if you have a lot of things to sort. She also has some great insights into storage containers and how not to use them. Psychologies Magazine have covered the basic tips from the book here.

I'm currently reading an advance copy of Stuffocation, which is published on the 15th January. Again it's quite extreme, but incredibly interesting and will make you question your whole consumerist existence. I'm only three chapters in but already I'm itching to reduce the contents of my home and to buy less in the future. I've just read about The Minimalists and their journey from rampant consumerism to living with less. The author also comments on how some people can live with 100 things, or less than 100 things, in one case 46 things. I have more than 46 things in my handbag! I always thought I was a minimalist, apparently I have a way to go yet...

Lastly, one on my 'to read' list Essentialism which not only deals with living with less, but also doing less (non essential stuff) and encouraging you to say 'no' more often. I've only read the sample pages on line but it sounds like empowering stuff. My 'to read' list this year is already mountainous... but I have a plan for that too. I'm reclaiming my lunch hour and instead of furiously cramming something into my mouth while answering emails, I'm going to the park or to sit in the kitchen for an hour and read.

Regardless of how you go about it though, if you feel like you need a sort out at home, the important thing is that you START. Pick the worst area of your home, the one thing that bugs you the most, maybe it's just one kitchen drawer, your wardrobe, the kids toys or the spare room. Once you start, it easier to build up momentum and if it all seems too overwhelming, just think 'it's just this one drawer/cupboard/room' and build up from there. The next step is to stop bringing more stuff IN to your home. Implement a one-in-one-out policy, assess if you REALLY need something before it crosses your threshold, or before you whip out your wallet to pay for it. I'm in total agreement with James Wallman, author of Stuffocation. Clutter is bad for your health It's draining, it's depressing and it's bad for your finances.

Wishing you all a happy home in 2015. What are your plans? Let me know by leaving a comment!

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