If you are reading this during the Covid-19 pandemic, I hope you stay well, healthy and safe.
During this Coronavirus pandemic things have seemed to be upside down. For so many of us, everything we are used to has changed very abruptly. Work, school, maintaining our homes and family time has been pushed all together. Working from home-while homeschooling kids-while keeping up with housework-while keeping everyone in the household safe and cared for during these uncertain times is a huge feat. We are all doing the best we can at adapting to this new normal. Have patience with yourself while you are figuring out your new routines. Organization systems that worked for your home before might not work now. Give yourself time to adjust.
Based on messages from my clients and social media, it seems everyone is (or is trying to!) use this time to organize their homes. More time at home, plus a need to keep ourselves occupied, seems to be driving this trend of home organization. Add to that the change of weather many of us are experiencing this time of year, this time of quarantine coincides with annual spring cleaning.
So where does minimalism fit into this?
First, we have to define what minimalism means to us. To some, it is paring their possessions down to the bare-bones minimum of what they use on a daily basis. For others it might be more of a design aesthetic, with limited decor and furnishings. I have my own definition of minimalism, which is the maximum number of items I can hold in my home before it starts to feel overwhelming. When too much of my time is spent searching for things and tidying up, I know its time to edit my family’s possessions. To me it is less of a number or look, and more of a feeling.
Check your feelings and stress levels when you are in your home. Do you feel comfortable with the amount of items in your home, or is there a feeling of stress and overwhelm? There is evidence that clutter causes stress. Now that we are spending so much time in our homes, we may be feeling this sense of overwhelm more than ususal.
Tips for decluttering during stay at home orders:
*Choose your starting point- What is the area that would be most helpful if it was organized? Which area do you find yourself most digging for items, searching for lost things or shifting things around to get to what you need? This is a great place to devote some time now.
*Another good place to start is with clothing. This is a time of year we are starting to switch out our wardrobes for the season.Evaluate your fall/winter clothing before putting it away, and look at what condition it is in. Did the item get worn? Even if you love it, did you always choose to wear something else from your wardrobe? You may love it, it may bring you joy, but if you always chose to wear other things then it might not be a keeper.
*When switching out your seasonal clothes, hang the hangers backwards. It’s a great visual to show you what didn’t get worn that season. When the time comes to switch clothing again you can easily donate what didn’t get worn.
*Playrooms & Toys- Are you spending too much time helping your kids put away their toys? Kids won’t know how to express this, but they can become overwhelmed by too many choices in playthings. Now that you are all home more, see what your kids are playing with more. Consider packing up less played with toys to save for later. Toy rotation every few weeks helps keep cleanup time to a minimum, and newly rotated toys will ideally seem like new ones. If the kids are still not excited by the toy, then its time to let it go.
Donations during social distancing are going to be a challenge.
Most places are closed or working with limited staff. If you have a space to store donations for the future, packed up into bags or boxes, hold them until your local donation center reopens. You can also store items in your car trunk, if possible. Unless your car trunk is full of clutter, than you know what to do! Now may also be a good time to use Facebook Marketplace to sell or give away unwanted items. Check Facebook for local “Buy Nothing” groups. Someone may be looking for exactly what you are getting rid of! Just make sure to practice good social distancing and disinfecting practices!
The things you can’t keep minimal
Something else that has changed during shelter in place orders is the amount of food and household supplies we are buying. Some people struggled to maintain pantry organization even before this pandemic. Now adding more items from stocking up may be making things even harder to keep track of. I tell clients who tend to overbuy items to “store things at the store”. Now I am glad they have a stock of toilet paper and paper towels filling their closets!
*Even if you are buying much more than usual, do your best to keep it organized. It doesn’t have to look perfect, but it should still be easy to see and find what you have.
*Keep like with like. Don’t separate and stash things in different areas of your home. You may lose track of exactly how much you have.
*If you are having a hard time keeping track of what you have, consider creating an inventory list.
Daily and weekly resetting
One thing that keeps me from getting overwhelmed by all the things is doing a daily reset of our common areas. Decide what each room’s baseline of organization is. Then take the time each night to get it back to that. This is especially important for working areas like a kitchen or home office.
*Make your workspace neat for the next day. Clear your desk if possible.
*Have kids put away school supplies and projects before ending their school day.
*Clear tables and countertops before closing the kitchen for the night.
Taking the time to reset the room will give you a feeling of closure at the end of the day. Work and school has ended, and now there is a clear shift to “home” time. Starting a new day with a clean kitchen or office space is a great feeling!
When you have decided on your daily resetting actions, do the same for the week. Decide what things need to be done over the weekend to set you up for an organized and successful week ahead.
*Meal planning and prepping. This would be a great way to use your inventory list, if you made one!
*Restocking rooms- toilet paper, soap, kids school supplies, printer paper. Whatever your home needs for different spaces to function.
*Get the family involved! Being homebound is a great time to teach everyone how to help, and what needs to be done to make the home run smoothly.
This is a difficult time. Often, being able to bring order inside our homes gives us a sense of calmness. Whatever your challenge is during this time, give yourself time and patience to adjust to it.
While in-home organizing sessions are on hold for now, we are available for your home organization questions via email or direct messages on our social media accounts.
Wishing you all health and love for you and your families. Stay safe!
Looking for organization help, and are you in the NYC / CT area? Go to minimalisbliss.com to schedule a free in-home consultation.