Decluttering hacks: how to overcome the excuses and get started!

The benefits of owning less

When the topic of decluttering comes up in conversation, most people are quick to tell me they’ve got a garage / kids bedroom / storage cupboard / [insert messy overwhelming space here] that is on the to-do list, but they just haven’t managed to tackle it yet. Sound familiar?!

There are common stumbling blocks to getting started on the decluttering journey, but by identifying them, and arming yourself with some key strategies, you can take the bull by the horns and begin the journey to a simplified life. It’s so worth the effort.

Here are top 4 things standing in the way of you and a zen home, and tips to overcome them:

 

1. No time

This is the number reason for most people. I get it. We lead busy, often overloaded lives. And the simple answer to this, is to make decluttering a priority and schedule it in to your calendar – it could be an evening a week, a weekend day a month or whatever time you can carve out. If you’re serious about tackling your clutter,  you’ve got to prioritise it.

Along with scheduling time, start using those little pockets of time when you might otherwise be checking social media, or email, or doing something else that’s really not a priority. If something’s enough of a priority for us, we’ll find the time.

 

2. Not knowing where to start

When our stuff reaches overwhelm point, it’s easier to do nothing than to do something. The key is not to start with the hardest, most overwhelming space. The size of the task will overwhelm the size of your motivation, and you won’t start. Pick a small area – even just the kitchen junk drawer if you have one. If you can do one small area from start to finish, the sense of accomplishment just might motivate you to tackle a bigger space.

If you’re game to start with a bigger space, start with your wardrobe. Being stressed and overwhelmed by your wardrobe, and struggling with decisions about what to wear before the day’s even started is not conducive to a productive day. Starting the day with a decluttered wardrobe that contains items that you love to wear and feel good in, makes such a difference to your state of mind and the way you tackle other decision-making throughout the day.

 

3. Thinking we can do it on our own

Often people don’t call on others for help with decluttering, based on the premise that they can do it themselves. But decluttering can be a harder, more emotional process than you anticipate; it requires making a whole heap of decisions. With every item you have to decide whether to keep it or part with it, and if you’re sorting through every item in a wardrobe, or a garage, or any other cluttered space, that’s a lot of decisions.

Getting someone in, whether it be a friend or a professional, who is not emotionally attached to your stuff, can help you to be more objective, work through the many decisions, and actually get the job done.

 

4. Fear of letting go

The most common line I hear: “I might need this one day.”

Emotional attachments to our stuff, and the fear of letting go, so often stand between us and a simplified home.

The only way through this one, is to accept that, yes, you may get rid of some things that you may need one day, but buying (or borrowing) the very odd thing that you happen to need down the track, is far better than hanging onto everything “just in case”. You won’t need 99% of the stuff you get rid of ever again. It’s not worth the stress of a cluttered home for that 1% of stuff that you may or may not even need. I’d far rather get rid of it all, experience the peace and simplicity of owning less, and accept the small cost of needing to replace the odd thing occasionally. Since we’ve been living this way, we’ve never looked back.

Listen to your emotions, and try to identify what is standing in the way of you and letting go.

We have to learn to let go and trust the process, as we head towards the sense of peace and freedom that lies on the other side of our clutter.

Have a good week everyone 🙂

Rachel x

In search of the true self: why we need to declutter ourselves

true self

The journey towards a simplified, decluttered life, involves far more than just our physical spaces.

As we go through life, we create and acquire labels, images and identities along the way, many of which don’t belong to us, and certainly shouldn’t define us.

There’s much to be gained by digging below the external version of ourselves, decluttering the identities that we’ve collected, to reveal our true selves within.

The process is a deep, rich, and often challenging journey to discovering the truest version of ourselves. Easier said than done. But absolutely worth it.

Here are some of the most common aspects of our selves that are worth reflecting on, addressing and decluttering:

1. Job title

We are not what we do. And while work may be a big part of life, we are so much more than a job title. Anyone who has experienced a job loss, or become a stay at home parent for a season, or other similar circumstance, knows how much of our identity we often attach to what we do. When finding ourselves having to live without a title, we’re suddenly forced to discover the self beneath the title.

When I married at 24, I left my job as an engineer to travel full time with my husband’s band. It sounded glamorous, but for the most part was far more of a challenge to my ego and sense of self than it was glam. I went from having a job, a role, and a sense of purpose, to being on the sidelines without a role or identity. Suddenly having no external title, no particular role, and no real sense of purpose, forced me to unearth the real me beneath the external facade.The 14 years since have been a long journey of discovery (that I’m very much still on – aren’t we all?) that I am not what I do. It’s been incredibly tough at times, but so worth it.

2. Image and appearance

For many of us, entering the teenage years goes hand in hand with creating an image for ourselves, in order to fit in or stand out. We either try to go with the crowd and conform as much as possible, or we go for the nonconformist “different is cool” approach. And we so often drag this skewed focus on image into adulthood.

But there’s freedom in realising that we are so much more than our appearance. The more in touch with our true selves we become, the more our personality has a chance to shine through any external packaging we’ve come up with.

It’s not about ditching self expression; I’m the first to admit that I love a beautifully curated (and minimalist of course!) wardrobe. It’s just about realising we are so much more than our external appearances. Where fashion used to be an all important expression of who I was, I now see it creative, artistic expression of one aspect of my personality (and sometimes all it’s expressing is the fact that I’m far too tired or busy to care about what I look like that day!)

3. Reputation / Personality traits

We often gather certain reputations as we go through life, e.g. “the responsible one”, “the party girl”, “the quiet one”. These may have once been representative of you. But they are simply labels.

If you think you still hang on to labels, reputations or personality types that you no longer identify with, it can be helpful to journal your thoughts. Try making a list of who you are now, what you’re good at, what are your strengths and what you love. Make another list of some of the labels that you’ve held onto but want to let go of. Reflect on what you’ve written, where you’ve come from and where you’re heading. The simple act of writing, and seeing things for what they are can help us step more boldly into a truer version of ourselves.

Lets keep digging for the real version of ourselves underneath all those layers. It’s worth the effort to discover the gold within.

Friday Favourite Things

Happy Friday everyone.

I’ve got two favourite things to share with you today:

1. Wall planters

Gala Collier Ceramic Planters
Gala Collier Ceramic Planters

I couldn’t wait for the chance to finally get some new house plants once our renovation was finished. I’m really not a green fingers so am surprised that my 5 new plants are still alive 5 months in. Fingers crossed. These planters are by local ceramic artist Gala Collier. I love buying local and handmade when I can, and love the simplicity and beauty of these. I got the string of pearls plant from Plant & Pot, and Gala very kindly gave me a cutting of her chain of hearts. Bringing nature indoors really is happiness in a pot.

2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I’m all about what Greg has to say in this book, on how to discern what’s essential to our lives, and what’s not. I love this:

What if we stopped being oversold the value of having more and being undersold the value of having less? What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?

What if the whole world shifted from the undisciplined pursuit of more to the disciplined pursuit of less… only better?

Have a great weekend, and may it contain a little less busyness and a little more time to celebrate the moments with those who are important to you.

xx

Friday Favourite Things

Happy 2017 to you! I hope your year has started well so far.

Simplifying, owning less, minimising. I love these words, and the sentiment behind them. I’m all about buying less, owning less, consuming less, and being present more.

But a well curated life also includes choosing wisely and well the things that you do add in to your life. Something well chosen, that you truly love, will often mean less consuming overall. If you buy one thing that you love, that may stop you buying seven things that you don’t.

So this year as well as talking about simplicity (I’ll never stop talking about that!) I’ll also tell you about some of my favourite things. What I like, what I love, what’s worth spending money on, what’s not. Because I love researching and choosing carefully what comes in to my home and my life, and sharing with others what I love.

We’ve also just about finished renovating our home. I’ve loved the process of creating spaces that are simple, beautiful, and serve their purpose well. So over the year I’ll share some pictures of my favourite rooms and spaces in our home.

And people often ask me about my wardrobe, perhaps imagining that it’s a perfectly curated selection of white, zen, minimalist items. It’s not. But I do love it, now that it only contains things I truly love and use, so I’m happy to share some of my favourite pieces with you.

So here’s my first list of Friday Favourite Things for the year:

1. I’m currently reading, and loving Parker Palmer’s “Let Your Life Speak”. It’s a thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring reflection on how to tap into your vocation, and uncover your true self. Here’s an excerpt:

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.

2. Houston Design Co. coffee cups. We’ve been through a tough few years, and I’ve needed to add little things into my day to bring me joy. Drinking coffee out of hand made local pottery does that for me.

coffee
Houston Design Co. tumblers

3. Our new laundry tiles. We’d already renovated our bathroom when I discovered these tiles, so thought I was out of options for using them in our home. When it struck me that I spend more time in my laundry than my bathroom, I decided that adding a little bit of beautiful to my laundry was a great idea. I’m loving it.

Scandinavian laundry. Black and white tiles.
Our new laundry.
Here’s to the new year, and all it brings to each of us.

Rachel xx

P.S. I’ll also be using Instagram to share some of my favourite things, so head here to follow me.

Spring Cleaning: where to start and why it’s good for the soul

The benefits of owning less

Hooray for the first day of spring! It’s been a long winter for me, for many reasons. So I’m ready for the new season.

I love the turn of seasons, and the natural opportunity it brings for change, renewal and refreshment.

Spring is a great, and very classic season for the age old tradition of spring cleaning.

People often ask me where to start with decluttering.

If you’re embarking on a decluttering mission at the change of seasons, a great place to start is your wardrobe. Now’s the time to haul everything out, and get rid of any winter clothing that hung unused for the last few months.

  • As you look at each item, decide whether you love it, and whether it’s truly useful to you. If not, get rid of it. Be as ruthless as you possibly can.
  • If you hesitate with any item, it’s usually because there’s something wrong with it. Is that something that you can change / fix / mend / alter? If not, give yourself permission to let it go! The physical act of letting things go is liberating, and good for the soul. There’s truth to the saying, “messy house, messy mind.” By getting rid of physical possessions, we feel lighter mentally. Decluttering lifts emotional weight too, as we let go of our emotional attachments to things.

The more you can cull from your wardrobe, the lighter you’ll feel. And it will likely propel you on to clearing out other areas of your home, and your life. What things in your schedule have served you well in the past season? What’s weighed you down? Now’s the time to assess what has been de-energising you, and whether it is a necessary thing in your life.

Here’s to the new season, and to all it brings.

blossom

How perfectionism can be the enemy of decluttering

decluttering versus perfectionism

There’s a risk with decluttering, especially when you’re a perfectionist. And that’s aiming too high, or thinking you can ever get to the end. To achieve a state of decluttered perfection.

But you can’t. Life, by nature, is messy, organic, chaotic.

Trying to strive for absolute perfection will leave you in a state of dissatisfied anxiety.

I’m a reforming perfectionist, and sometimes it gets the better of me, and I go into a frenzy of organisation. Of seeking perfection. Of striving for the impossible.

So I’m working to see the beauty in the chaos. To see paint smeared across the dining table as a sign of my kids’ creativity; bikes left lying outside a reminder of green spaces we can bike to and enjoy; dishes on the bench highlighting that we have enough food to eat; piles of craft projects to be attended to a reminder of the joy of creativity; unmade beds, a reminder that we have woken up, we are alive, and have another day before us.

decluttering versus perfectionism

LOOK UP!!! Don’t be a Slave to your Smartphone. BE HERE NOW.

I’m sitting in a cafe, to write. But I’m surrounded by people glued to their phones. This frustrates me so much I want to scream. So can you humour me while I get up from my seat and shout for a minute?

PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY!!!

Can you LOOK AT YOUR DAUGHTER? She wants you to see her.

Can you look at your friend?

Can you taste your food?

Can you see your lover across the table from you?

Can you feel the sunshine on your face?

Can you smell your coffee?

ARE YOU THERE???

People. We are in a scary place.

Look up. Listen. Put away your phones.

Get unplugged. Be awake to your life. Be awake to your reality. Live. Truly live. 

Feel the feelings. The good ones. The bad ones. The sad ones. The hard ones. We are meant to feel all of them. Then, and only then, will our lives grow richer. For can we truly know courage if we haven’t felt fear? Can we truly know inspiration if we haven’t felt boredom? Can we truly know joy if we haven’t felt pain?

Live and feel fully. Be present. Let life be your teacher.