As unemployment soars, wages remain stagnant and the stock market plummets, we begin evaluating our lifestyles. Now more than ever the idea of going minimal is considered less of an extreme choice and more of a practical way of adjusting for a so-called “new normal”. While, in my opinion the minimal lifestyle still seems a little overboard, there are basic principles we can take away. Most importantly: how we feel about the things we own — the ability to evaluate what we need and what we’re just holding onto. Let’s take a look at why now is the time to cut back and renew our living spaces.
We have reached a moment in time when all things change in a second, just as previous generations faced the tragic loss of life in the World Wars at the beginning of the 20th century. There has always been a threat of viruses with hints of possible pandemic results since bird flu was uttered back in 2003. There have been variants that floated around with names like H5N1, Avian influenza, Swine and Pig flu, and many others. Still another variant that was feared back in the day was the dreaded Spanish flu.
This was known as the H1N1 virus and began to take its toll across the world in 1918. Though the total death count has never been fully estimated, the number of infected rose to over 500 million! Some experts have estimated between 17-50 million people lost their lives to this swift-moving illness. It took 12 months before the Spanish flu finally ended. A little over 100 years later and living in the age of modern technology we are now experiencing the deadliest pandemic of our lifetime!
There have been drastic changes we are asked to make on personal freedom and movement. There have also been widespread doubts by others who are fueling conspiracy and fake news about the virus outbreak itself. All across the world the effect has been fully documented and is frightening, to say the least. COVID 19 is changing the way we think as many are forced to stay at home to thwart the spread. Not easy for some as the thought of becoming a homebody is a difficult option.
One of the saddest stories that become the poster child of how fast COVID 19 can spread is documented in Spain. Most of Europe was still just starting to have an idea of the virus in March. It didn’t take too long before religious and social events were canceled as a precaution. Spain had very few cases under 150 who were infected in Madrid by March 7th. On March 8th, over 120,000 people (mostly women) proudly marched for the International Women’s Day event, and that caused the virus to spread to the point of no control.
Around the same time here in America, the threat was not handled so quickly in cities including New York. Since then, the mandatory home quarantine was issued nationwide. This has led to the point that we are at now.
Staying at home is a hard psychological pill to swallow and hasn’t been easy to handle for most American families. The struggle of what to do to pass the time is enough to make most people go stir-crazy. The struggle of what to do to pass the time is enough to make most people go stir-crazy.
A spirit of helplessness pervades when there’s a crisis but you can’t do anything to stop it.
What you need is something to do that’s worthwhile, something that makes things better, even just around your home. A major cleaning is just the thing. It’s completely within your reach and it’s something the whole family can do together. Cleaning works the body and the mind, and now the time is right.
You’ve been pushing this idea around for years but never had the right reason to get started. With summer here, there’s always clutter that needs to be cleared. It can be in the attic or the garage, in closets and cabinets, and throughout your home and backyard. Wherever you have space it seems that clutter can build up over the years without you even being aware. Now it’s the best time to start organizing your home since it’s a job that requires time and energy.
The best part is that you don’t need to do it in one day and you can take your time. There is no time limit, which gives you more time to to take a detailed audit of your belongings. Here’s a practical look at the three stages you’ll need to undergo to truly be free from excess.
If you live in a home that you’ve inherited from a grandparent or parent, you’ll know they have stuff. It’s all part of a whole generation that never threw anything away. The idea is that these items could be used for something else.
Evaluating is just a matter of perspective. What do you consider to be trash? Is it something you throw out in your garbage or does that object become someone else’s treasure?
My grandparents were notorious clutter-bugs, and I would often see sealed boxes lining the hallways of their home. It turns out that they had been collecting clutter for 50 years.
You’ve seen shows like American Pickers and see how nuts they get when they find something that looks like garbage. It might be very collectible and can resell for hundreds of dollars. Then there’s the kind of stuff that’s worth money but it serves no purpose in your home.
There might be items that you thought were lost or misplaced that you rediscover again. You’ll need to decide what to do with these items. And this is all part of the fun of putting them into a category of keeping, reselling, or repurposing. It might be the hardest job since you might have a sentimental feeling for certain items. But to keep a healthy mind you should also have a clutter-free home. This is a matter of perspective all by itself.
How to give-up things that you have an attachment to?
We’re all guilty of this crime from time to time because it’s human nature. Hoarding comes in all forms from collecting green M&Ms from a jumbo pack to collecting old Atari video games. But once it starts it can progress into a mindset that these objects deeply mean something to you. Letting go is always the hardest part aside from the memories that go with these things. So let’s face it, too many of these clutter items take up more space than you can afford.
This is why so many people start to pack them in places where they can be safe. In reality, this stuff takes-up space that multiplies over time. Now the time has come to get rid of that clutter so you can finally get organized for future projects. Having extra space is a gift in itself and the ideas will become clearer as you start to get rid of clutter. So take your time and be patient, this kind of project also gives you the luxury of slowly letting go. This way you won’t feel you’ve lost anything, in hindsight you might gain more in return.
Clutter will need to be sorted and selected so you know exactly where it needs to go. You’ll still have it for a while until these items find a new home. Whether it goes into the garbage directly is your choice, there is always an easier way to do it. Here’s a few options to free yourself of your clutter once and for all.
Select your preferred method
Once you get space cleared you’ll have to organize it further.
Start with the closets since these are where stuff gets crammed in the first place. Reorganize your closet to include items that give the best amount of space that’s needed. Don’t overcrowd your closet either as you should be able to find what you need without trouble. Do this with every closet, nook, and cabinet. Pretty soon the rest of each room will follow the same pattern. Kitchen drawers and cabinets should be like this as well. Keep neat with as much clutter removed as possible.
As you finally get areas of your home closer to finally being cleared-out of junk, you can start to decorate. Put those items you decide to be repurposed into action. If they mean a lot and have a place in your home, use them for decoration with purpose. How about an old typewriter on an antique desk? Or a golf bag with a fancy cap beside the front door entranceway? These kinds of items can be restored, polished, and cleaned up so they have a second life as groovy decorations.
If you’ve ever used online sites that let you advertise things for sale for free, you know what I’m talking about.
Facebook is OK for this kind of stuff but you might know a better site to advertise with. This is part of the organizing process since it will also take time. Items that have higher values such as collectibles can be posted onto eBay. You can immediately see what they are worth and set the value based on the condition it’s in. The benefit will come when someone buys your item. Everyone can see the sense and value of that.
Keep a logbook of the items you are selling is a great reminder of how the benefits start to tally up. These become great memories of the time that you cleared up all your clutter and can show a profit margin. Remember those ideas about what to use all the renewed space for? That profit can be used exactly for that or just keeping up with your monthly bills.
Alternatively, take the money that you’ve saved from selling off your clutter and use it for improving your home. With some new paint and minor home improvements, you can add space-saving cabinets and closet organizers.
Maximize your space even more with these add-ons that don’t cost much money at all. And to be honest, when you have more time to do these things, improving your home is easier. Especially since you’ve been able to remove and get rid of clutter!
Involve your whole family if you all live under the same roof.
Everyone can be part of the process and it will bring you closer, especially if it doesn’t seem like work and there is a financial benefit to it. Make this home improvement renewal task into a contest and have a weekly progress chart. Everyone can see where they’ve reached a new goal. Reward your family with bonuses and praise for the hard work they’re doing. You should know that the final goal is to bring you and your family closer.
In this time that is full of dark feelings and news broadcasts that are even darker, create some light moments. If you are busy with de-cluttering your home and everyone is involved, it will stimulate talking with each other. And also bringing up stories that perhaps your kids never heard before! They can learn about the history of some of these items and learn how they can be sold. More importantly, they can learn how being organized is a value all by itself.