Reduce & Simplify

organizationVirginia HartComment

According to Robert Kunzig of National Geographic, the entire world could fit in Texas if each person were allotted the same average square feet of living space as in New York City.

Take a second and let that simmer.

Yes, the entire world.

To read his interesting article, Population 7 Billion, click here.

Besides some art work, baby/childhood items and a few sport trophies I have at my folks' (yes, I somehow tricked my high school coaches into thinking I possessed some athletic ability), I have my entire life crammed into what I'm estimating to be at most 400 square feet. Tiny, tiny! We already know how I feel about storage . One day, in an undetermined amount of time from now, I will jump for joy over a pantry, over a utility closet, over a machine that will wash my clothes...

...and not also my neighbors' clothes.

I bought my daily Clinique clarifying lotion yesterday and had to ask the lady for the smaller bottle (even though the bigger bottle is more economical) because I knew the bigger one wouldn't fit in its designated spot behind my bathroom mirror. I can't buy toilet paper in bulk on sale, I can't have too many "dry foods" at once and I feel like I'm constantly trying to make a tiny shoebox apartment home-y instead of cramped. 

I have a stainless steel skinny table in my kitchen and it's more than where I eat - it's my only counter, my office table, my art table, my I-have-no-other-place-to-put-my-blender-other-than-here table. While I'm definitely not one to preach about only having "the basics" (ahem), I also forget that living in NYC has forced me to keep things to a relative minimum. I must deep clean frequently to keep things tidy, I must throw out magazines after I've read them and I find myself constantly lugging bags of things to a local Housing Works thrift store in order to keep the amount of stuff in my apartment in check.

So even though I may complain (a lot) about my lack of room in this crazy city, I forget that I need to also acknowledge that it forces me to figure out how to live comfortably in a space smaller than many 2-car garages, an accomplishment I should feel good about.  I do not intend to criticize those that have large living spaces. (Trust me, I'm jealous.) Instead, I encourage you to examine where you live and what you have.

As you attempt to rejuvenate yourself and your lifestyle in a new year, consider this suggestion:  reduce and simplify.

Here are 10 easy tips for downsizing and de-cluttering in any home, big or small:

1. Go through your closet and pull out anything you haven't worn in a year.  No excuses. Get rid of anything you're saving for some inconceivable weight you hope to one day return to. Get rid of all the shirts that have yellow pit stains. They nasty. Research a local charity and donate everything that isn't nasty. Look at your closet and figure out what you have too much of and what you need. Next time you buy something, get rid of something to keep things at a certain amount.

2. Get the kids involved. Go through their old toys and donate what they've grown out of. Explain how he or she is going to make another child so very happy. Figure out the best way to store the toys that you end up keeping.

3. Open your cupboards and get rid of all the extra dishes you never-ever use. Do the same thing with your linens.

4. Go through your makeup bags, tool bags, wrapping paper bins, pen holders, junk drawers - clean/throw out/organize.

5. Attack your cleaning supply. Yes it seems silly to clean the cleaning supplies, but I'm sure they take up a certain space in your home. Figure out the best way to store them.

6. Go room by room and envision other potential set-ups and think if a different arrangement could somehow make things easier - or maybe just give you a new fresh feeling.

7. Clean out the fridge. And by that I mean take everything out of it, clean the inside, throw out whatever has been in there for way too long and put things back in a neat and organized way.

8. Do you always have a stack of bills and mail that continues to grow? Figure out a filing system for it all.

9. Do the same with your email. File away ones you want to keep in separate categories and delete the rest.

10. Get rid of anything in your home (and your life, for that matter) that is extraneous. You don't have to keep everything.

For those of you who also have a three-day weekend ahead (woohoo!), take a day and try and tackle at least one or two of these. I know I need to.

until next time,