Organizing with Family

+ A reminder that The Simple Living Summit is happening this week. It starts today! There will be a bunch of discussions and videos about simple living available. The organizer, Wuyen, and I talk about a bunch of things related to Essentialism as a lifestyle, including Essentialism 101 and Monthly Experiments! If you’re interested, sign up here… it’s free to participate. My session is on Thursday, February 16, 2017. <3

Last week, I posted about 5 Ways to Share Essentialism with Others. Another aspect of enjoying this lifestyle is knowing how to best work through an organizing project with friends and family in your life. These ideas might sound familiar as they are similar to the 5 Steps to a Successful Habit Shift. The tactics are simple and they work!

1. Make sure your family is interested! It can be painful to work on a decluttering or organizing project with somebody who isn’t on board. Here are some ways to talk about essentialism and letting go in general with family. Share your goal and start a conversation about it. If you meet too much resistance, work on it solo for now.

2. Consult Essentialism 101, focusing on shared Priorities in Step 2. Get on the same page right away. Discuss your joint vision for the space. Take the time to write out what functions you all want from the space. What’s the goal and what do you want it to look like in the end? (Extra credit: also have discussions about what behavior might be contributing to the clutter or mess. Can you agree on shifting some habits together to prevent future clutter creep?)
Let’s take a common example of clearing out the garage. Share your goals and some adjectives of what you’d like the end product to look like. Clean? Bright? Energizing? What functions are priorities: room to park the car, an area for outdoors gear, some storage for tools and home supplies?

(inspirational garages  via Martha Stewart , of course)

(inspirational garages via Martha Stewart, of course)

3. Time box. Set aside an afternoon or a few hours. Make sure everyone is fed and hydrated. These projects get much harder when someone becomes hangry or tired. Agree on a chunk of time, block it off on the calendar, and stick to the clock. If you don’t finish, you can set aside another time block for later. If you’re having so much fun ;) and want to continue, agree to take a break and check in with each other every 30 minutes or so. That said, try to move through items quickly. If you notice yourselves becoming indecisive, utilize a MAYBE pile so you can keep up the momentum.

4. Start small. It is very common to take on a large organizing project with no concept of how long it may take. You might end the afternoon with a bed covered in clothing and no place to sleep ;) This process usually gets uglier before it gets better so bite off a small piece, finish it to completion, and repeat if you have the time. Choose one section or one category and work through the 5 steps of Essentialism 101.
Also, start with the easy stuff. There might be items that are obviously of no use to anybody anymore. Simple! Or there are bulky items that take up more room than they're worth. Don’t start with memory boxes from childhood or items that often cause conflict.
For the garage example, maybe you start with a storage shelf in the back. You brainstorm about what you want to store there in the future, take everything off, decide what’s working and what’s not, and then restore the area. Or maybe you start with one category: sports equipment. You discuss your joint vision for your relationship to sports stuff, then gather all of the equipment from the home, decide what’s working and what’s not, and restore the area!

5. Respect your differences. Try to work separately but together. In the garage, maybe you go through a box of your college papers while your partner sorts through tools, asking for help when you could use a nudge to help let go. A lot of times, stuff becomes clutter because only one person is attached. If the whole family loves something, it tends to be on display. If nobody loves something, it's easy to let go!
We all have different attachments. Try to understand why the project might be a struggle for each of you. Kindly question what should stay but don’t push it. Instead of playing the enemy, be a compassionate observer.
In the end, remember to focus on why you’re doing this and your shared vision. My partner is a tad more sentimental than I am but I love living with him so his stuff gets to stay ;)

Decluttering with family can be tricky but if you follow these tactics, you'll have a better chance of success with fewer disagreements. You may even find a cheerleader! 

+ And Happy Valentines Day! <3 I felt pretty lucky to have two cute valentines this year!

++ theESSENTIALISTS now has a Pinterest page and an Instagram account. Take a peek. xo