I spent much of May away from my computer and tackling some household chores and projects. I felt so inspired by sunny spring weather and Melissa Michaels’ newest book, Make Room for What You Love.
The New York Times Bestselling Author and blogger at The Inspired Room departs from the typical organizational help book by asking her readers to focus on why we want to live in a more organized home. “What will a decluttered home mean to my life?” Personally I want to feel energized to accomplish my goals and make memories with the people I love.
Like many of us, Melissa tried a variety of organizing and decluttering programs that worked for a time and then became too burdensome to maintain. She needed a simpler way to manage her home. And then she had a lightbulb moment.
When I become more aware of the decisions I make every day, I can turn around subconscious decisions that lead to perpetual disorder.
I never realized indecision was at the root of my home management problem. Not too much stuff. Not the wrong calendar. Not the wrong organizational tools. During moments when I was overtired or overwhelmed, I delayed completing even simple activities. For example, I would feel exhausted at the end of the day so, instead of dealing with the mail, I tucked it into a basket. The next morning, rather than feeling refreshed and ready for the day, I felt anxious about work I had left undone and piling up.
So I’ve spent the last month being mindful of my choices. I pick up the mail in the morning instead of the evening and go through it when my mind is fresh. This allows me to complete any necessary follow up during business hours. I also exchanged my large mail basket for a trim, three-file desktop organizer so that my family members’ mail won’t get lost in a jumble. That decision alone has greatly reduced paper clutter and anxiety caused by a stack of unread mail.
I also made an interesting discovery: If I don’t leave anything on the kitchen counter (such as a grocery list, mail to sort, or even a glass of water), the counter seems to stay clear all day long. However, if I set down a pair of sunglasses momentarily, other family members’ stuff suddenly piles up next to it as if there were a magnetic attraction. So now I am very motivated to keep my things put away where they belong.
Another key idea I latched onto was determining my style for this house, not the house I used to live in. Melissa encourages us to gather photos of what we want each room to look like. Then assess what we have in it.
What you keep will determine your style, so don’t keep things that don’t add meaning or value to your home. You want a home that functions well and feels comfortable.
Our former Cape Cod home was divided into cozy rooms, whereas our current home has an open floor plan with few walls for hanging pictures or tucking in small pieces of furniture. Not only are the spaces different, but also how we use them. During most of our years in the Cape Cod, I was homeschooling our children and my husband had a home office where he started and ended his work day. Now my husband and daughter work from our home all day, and so do I! Not only do I need to adjust to the style of this home, but also to the different ways we use it. (Three people need quiet space to read, write, and talk on the phone without distraction.)
Rather than evaluating the worthiness or value of each object I own, Melissa challenged me to honor the space we have. Bring in what I have room for — not everything I love.
Just keep what I love? Not strict enough for this girl. I might even have love for enough items to fill three closets, even though I technically only have one.
Luxury means living in a state of great comfort or ease. When there’s too much, we are not living with ease but rather excess that we no longer appreciate.
Clutter doesn’t reflect my style today. I’ve been able to give away blankets, tablecloths, clothing, and kitchen items that don’t fit with how we live in this house at this time. Some of those decisions were difficult.
Each time we downsize or declutter, we must let go of more things — even things we love…. and sometimes we even say good bye to things from chapters of our life because they are no longer serving us but rather have become “Memory Clutter.”
Melissa reminds us that creating a home is a worthy adventure, but it takes time. To truly reflect those who live there, it will always be evolving.
The reason to make more room in your home is to make more room to fully live. Don’t let your home get stuck in a time capsule. It’s okay to let past trinkets go in order to make room for what inspires you now. They served their purpose at that time. Now make more room for who you have become.
Perhaps one of the reasons this book helped me so much is that Melissa talks to me as a friend working beside me rather than a bossy expert. She understands the struggle we face to focus on tasks and choose to live simply. She’s not naturally organized either! She gently encourages us at the end of each chapter to pause, reflect and act. Take a step toward our goals. Create a new habit. When we’re ready, start working through the Make Room Challenge at the end of the book.
I’m excited to create a home that reflects the people we have become! Hopefully I’ve inspired you to read Melissa’s book and transform your own home to reflect how you live.
By the way, you might enjoy reading how Make Room for What You Love inspired other bloggers at The Inspired Room’s Blogger Tour.
I also talked about Melissa’s book in an earlier blog: Beautiful Living.