Welcome to 2019! A new year full of opportunity! Whether tackling new projects or finding better ways to manage the day-to-day, it’s exciting, but it can also be stressful. Many have overwhelming professional and personal demands on their time, which never seem to let up. There’s always something to do, plan or think about– especially for certain family members. Finding ways to simplify your home can really help ease the daily load by creating time as well as the physical and mental space needed to relax and rejuvenate. But where to even start?!

Simplifying your home takes time, but is completely worth it. Start with little things. Small habit changes here and there will have a cumulative effect and will motivate both you and your family to do more.

Here are five easy things you can implement right away:

  1. Stop bringing junk mail into the home. Give it a quick thumb through and then throw it in the recycle bin outside your door, before entering your home. If this is not possible, place it in the recycle bin as soon as you enter the home. The goal is not to let it accumulate somewhere. Maybe it’s worth placing an additional recycling bin near the door. Or, consider adding a ‘no junk mail’ sign to your door or mailbox– this won’t always be obeyed but it should reduce volume. Tip: if you think you might actually need any of it (i.e.: looking for a painting service), be sure to have a specific place to put just those pieces.
  2. Switch to digital subscriptions. If you have print subscriptions to magazines or newspapers, switch to digital subscriptions. This made a huge difference in our home. We no longer had to collect and recycle old editions. We also eliminated our regular debate over how long we should keep them. You may even be able to access digital copies of magazines for free using your public library system and save some money. If this switch isn’t possible, at least recycle anything older than one week for newspapers and three months for magazines (or even donate them to friends, nursing homes, hospitals or local schools for art projects).  Make this your new habit going forward, even if you haven’t read it! Tip: strike out your name and address on the label before recycling or donating.
  3. Try e-billing for regular expenses. If you still receive paper bills, sign up for e-billing. Not only will this reduce clutter, but it will also eliminate the time you would spend filing these papers. You will be able to rely on your e-file with the provider when you need to review your records, and will typically receive an email alert letting you know when your statement is available to review online. Tip: make sure you take steps (like calendar alerts) to ensure that these bills are still paid on time once the visual paper reminder is gone.
  4. Create a system to stay on top of unwanted or unnecessary clothes. Place a donation box in each family member’s closet and start using it. Any clothes that no longer fit properly or are not enjoyable to wear, but are still in good condition, should be placed in the box as they come out of the wash. Donate the contents once the box is full and start again. Anything that is in poor condition or stained can go to materials recycling. This can also be managed with a dedicated box somewhere like the laundry room. Tip: H&M and their other brands have bins to collect undonatable clothes (like single socks and holey t-shirts), irrespective of their brand.
  5. Get entryway boxes for each family member. We all have things to take out of our pockets or set down when we come in the door: keys, sunglasses, transit cards, etc. With winter there’s also gloves, hats, and so on. Add a simple decorative box or basket to a shelf near the door, for each person to dump their stuff in. This will keep it out from underfoot and hidden from view while still being easily accessible. Tip: to help build this habit and get other family members on board, use a reward system when members keep their items in their boxes consistently. Don’t comment on the organization of the items within the box.

If your goal is to simplify life by getting your home better organized and less cluttered, it may seem overwhelming. Tackling it in small steps is a great way to start, and get your family onboard. Not only will you see changes immediately and start to feel lighter, but it’ll also be easier to turn these acts into lifelong habits and gain more momentum for larger projects.

Please tell me if you have any great tips like this! I’d also love to hear what your biggest challenge areas are– maybe I can make a suggestion.