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smile bucket

Reduce

Organizing tipReduce the stuff we use to maintain other stuff. For example, reduce the number of cleaning supplies we have. If we took inventory of all that we have on hand, what would be our total?  How many other products in our homes serve only to maintain something else we own? Can we reduce the amount we have of  laundry items, auto care products, tools, and home improvement supplies? Remember the less we have the less we have to organize.

Define Minimalism

Helpful Organizer BlogHow would you define minimalism? I asked this question at the beginning of a presentation I gave recently at Brown University in Providence, RI. The answers I received were varied, but most of them included the concepts of intentionally having less stuff, and living a meaningful life with less material possessions. This was consistent with what I found while doing research for this presentation, and reading how established minimalists defined minimalism. I found three definitions that I could easily relate to, one by Joshua Becker, one by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, and one by Miss Minimalist, Francine Jay.

Joshua & Ryan define minimalism

Miss Minimalist defines minimalism

After reading these definitions I was inspired to come up with my own personal definition of minimalism. This is what I came up with:

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice in which we focus on:
…minimizing consumption by shopping less, buying less, using less.
…embracing limits through reducing, reusing, recycling.
…protecting our environment and natural resources with voluntary simplicity.
…finding greater pursuits in life than material possessions.

This definition became the outline for my presentation on embracing minimalism. It also inspired me to adopt a more of a minimalist lifestyle. I’ll be sharing my ideas, tips, and experiences on aspiring to be a minimalist in future blog articles. I hope you stay tuned and get inspired as well. If you’re interested in having me share my presentation on embracing minimalism, please contact me.

Below are some resources on minimalism that I’d like to share. I hope they encourage you to make changes in your life, like they have encouraged me.

  1. Joshua Becker’s website, books, and blog
  2. Joshua Fields Millburn’s & Ryan Nicodemus’ website, books, and blog
  3. Francine Jay’s website, books, and blog
  4. Courtney Carver’s website, books, and blog
  5. Patrick Rhone’s website, books, and blog
  6. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  7. Becoming a Minimalist: Your Guide to Living a Great Life With Less Through Minimalism by Kimberly Wilson
  8. Minimalism: How Living on Less Means Living More Life by Addison Fenn
  9. The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Bubauta
  10. You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel

©October 2018  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer  All Rights Reserved

focusing a camera

How to Keep Only What’s Important

Organizing tipKeep what’s important and let go of the rest. Keeping only what’s important will help us stay organized because we won’t be wasting our time with things that aren’t wanted, needed, or used.

Complete these 4 statements to focus on what’s important in life right now.

  1. I want this in my life now, because…
  2. This holds value and significance in my life now, because…
  3. This make me happy because…
  4. This is worth preserving and holding onto because…

Once the 4 statements are complete, take action to remove, recycle, or re-purpose what you can.

photo albums on shelf

Letting Go

Helpful Organizer BlogLetting go of things can be stressful and difficult, especially if they hold some sentimental value. We tend to hold onto things that remind us of precious people and moments from our past. A few years ago I was helping a client organize her bedroom, and we came across some dried, brittle, dusty, yellowed flowers in a vase. She explained that it was her dried wedding bouquet, and she wanted to keep it. I asked her to pause for a moment and tell me objectively what she saw. She did. I then asked to tell me about other mementos she had from her wedding day. When she was finished she understood what I was getting at and said “I think I can let the flowers go.” She understood that although her wedding flowers were an important part of her wedding day, now they were just dust collectors. Since she had other more meaningful mementos from her wedding day, as well as photos of the flowers when they were vibrant and beautiful, she could let go of the brittle, dusty, yellowed version. By taking a moment to look and think objectively we can all make better choices about letting go.

Here are 7 options for letting go that will help you keep the memories but not the stuff.

  1. Keep only the best of photographs, artwork & hand-made crafts to bring greater value to the memory.
    • Set limits (container limit or quantity limit)
    • Set criteria (most meaningful, most representative of personality)
    • Go digital with photos, memorabilia, artwork
    • Share and send photos to family/friends
  2. Keep part of a set or collection: china, glass items, collectables, furniture, nick-knacks & tchotchkes, holiday decorations & decor to bring ease to maintenance.
    • Get items appraised to understand valueplanters made from recycled goblets
    • Set limits (keep half, the best 3, most memorable)
    • Establish a specific place for display or specific use
    • Reduce what you keep (just signatures on greeting cards, every 5th year of journals)
  3. Get creative, re-purpose or reuse to bring new life to items.
    • Re-purpose dishes and stemware as planters or jewelry holders
    • Re-purpose china to make jewelry or mosaic art pieces
    • Reuse fabric from items to make quilts, pillows, teddy bears, mittens, bags, Christmas stockings or other items
    • Use paper items to make place-mats, wrapping paper, greeting cards
  4. Take photos and videos to preserve visually and digitally.
    • Create digital scrapbooks to share the memories and storiesChristmas stocking made from old quilt
    • Use as a screen saver on computer or phone
    • Consolidate images into collages
  5. Share and document story of item to preserve memory.
    • Use on-line digital options to share stories and photos
    • Share stories and memories of items verbally at family gatherings
    • Star in a video sharing stories and memories of family heirlooms
  6. Find worthy recipient to ease guilty feelings.
    • Search on line for specific worthwhile charities
    • Ask family, friends, and social media connections for willing recipients
    • Accept that we may not be able to find the perfect recipient and let it go believing the next owner will cherish it
  7. Experiment and practice letting go.

©September 2018  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®

3D Character and question mark

Keep Criteria

Organizing tipEstablish some keep criteria to use when making decisions on what to keep or not keep. Keep items that meet at least two of your criteria. If items don’t meet any of your established criteria let them go. Listed below are examples of my keep criteria.

  1. The item warms my heart and makes me feel special and loved.
  2. The item is displayed prominently so I can see it every day.
  3. The item is useful and makes my life easier in some way.
  4. The item fits my current lifestyle, decor, and values.
  5. The item is unique, one-of-a-kind, and irreplaceable.