Lists With Friends: Simplify.

My One Little Word for 2014 is “simplify.” 

Whenever I become stressed, irritable, angry, tense, overwhelmed, or just “not right,” it almost always comes back to excess. Excess commitment is definitely a part of it, excess caffeine and/or sugar, and excess reading my book instead of doing my job; but excess STUFF seems to be at the root of the worst of it. I’ve given this so much thought, and I have multiple books on the topic (not surprising, right?), so this is not an impulsive decision. I often just feel overwhelmed, claustrophobic, and like I’m at the mercy of my stuff…but no more. Goodbye, excess. Simplify.

Now, my definition of “excess” and someone else’s definition is going to be different, that’s for sure. My vision includes creating an environment that makes it easy to put things away. Seriously. That’s it. I’m pretty sure that if my storage areas weren’t so jam-packed, I’d be way more motivated and able to put stuff away and so would my family. And then our living areas could be simple, restful, fun, and/or productive, depending on the season and the need. Flat surfaces would be clutter-free and invite people to do homework, eat a snack, or play a game. (Sometimes I literally freak out because someone is trying to relocate a pile of “important” stuff so they can do homework. See how much stress can be avoided if I prevented the piles?)

The list:

1. MBR Closet. When this closet isn’t overcrowded, my whole world feels better. When this closet is congested, I don’t want to put clean clothes away because it’s frustrating. Then laundry sits in piles and baskets. Then I let the hampers get full (avoiding the inevitable piles of clean clothes), which perpetuates the crowded-closet feeling, because the hampers are in the closet. First step, simplify the closet. How much do I really need in there? Or, better yet, how little? Simplify.

2. Master Bath. I’m fairly certain that much of the reason I walk around looking waaaay-less-cute-than-I-could is because my bathroom cabinets are cluttery. I just don’t want to mess with it. My plan is to see how little I can have available to me to get the job done. Easy access to the few hair tools (2) I actually use and easy access to the small amount of make-up I actually use. I’m imagining the masses of product and plug-ins that I have collected all going into a garage sale box. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

3. Master bedroom. When the first two places on my list have been simplified, the bedroom will be 85% solved, I think. There is still a desk in the MBR that shouldn’t be there. I may put it in the garage sale – we’ll see. Simplify.

4. Boys’ Closets. My boys are 9 and 11. They can fold, hang, and put away their own laundry, but it would be so much easier if the closets and dresser drawers were not so full. Simplify! (Imagine my son whipping out his wand and shouting “Simplify!” – you know, instead of “Stupefy!” ala Harry Potter.)

5. Hall Closet. This closet has served so many purposes, but right now it is just disorganized and underutilized. I’m still thinking about what to do with it. Wouldn’t it be cool if I let go of so much stuff that it could just sit empty? Yep, simplify.

6. Attic. This will be a separate horrifying list.

7. Garage. Ditto.

8. Kitchen. This one needs some attention, but is actually the least crowded, the most streamlined, and the most productive. The stuff crowding the counters doesn’t even belong in the kitchen, so working on the other areas of the house is going to take care of the kitchen clutter for the most part. I do have some cabinet items that are targeted for removal. Those will be easy. Simplify…

9. Scrap Room (a.k.a. dumping ground/staging area/would be in a basement if we had one). Hasn’t been scrapped in in almost two years. I have all kinds of plans for this space, including painting the concrete floor with a cool stencil and some white and yellow paint, but the floor will have to wait – Spring Break, maybe? There is a good reason why the clutter in this room needs to be addressed early on: IT IS THE FIRST ROOM IN THE HOUSE. It’s really all you see from the front the front door. And it is unbelievable.  I am not kidding. I took a “before” picture of the scrap room today, and I couldn’t believe how it looked through the camera lens. You wouldn’t believe it. Ugh.

9. Laundry Room. Functioning, tiny, not a walk-in. It could definitely be more user-friendly, and I know there are things in the cabinets that need to be released from our home. Simplify.

10. Entry closet. It needs to be JUST a launch pad. Backpacks, lunch boxes, jackets. Right now it has bat bags, coolers, bike helmets,  basketballs, etc. Because if we put that stuff in the overcrowded garage, we’d never find it again when we need it. So it lives in the front closet.

I just had the insane, fleeting idea to post a photo of each room for fun. Nope, not gonna do it. BUT I will take “before” pictures, “during” pictures, and “after” pictures. And then I’ll post them at the end of each project. And those will be fun!

So it’s time to be proactive and simplify, instead of REACTing badly when the pressure is on. Life is hard enough out there in the world. I’m going to make it a little easier on us when we escape the world for an evening or a weekend or whatever time we have and enter this refuge that is our home. Simplify.

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This post is part of a list-making project called Lists With Friends 2014, an effort to document the year in lists of all types.