80/20 Rule for Closet Organization

 

Clothes and Accessories Swap Party

The Pareto Principle  (aka The 80-20 Rule)

This principle was first conceived in over 100 years ago by an Italian who observed that 80% of the land in his country was owned by 20% of the people. We’ve all heard in the classroom how 80% of the trouble is caused by 20% of the students. So what does this have to do with Simplicity? Actually, quite a bit:

We are all looking for efficiency in our over busy, over stuffed worlds. Figuring out what 20% matters- in what we own and what we do, would be huge. Even if it’s not 80% wasted time or unused possessions, most of us have a great deal of fat in our schedules and bloat in our stuff.

 

WhitleyCloset1

How you say?
How much of the contents of your closet never see the light of day?

How much of the stuff that lives in your garage, attic or basement should have been discarded or donated rather than boxed and stored?

How many of your children’s toys never come out of the toy box (if you were lucky enough to have them corralled to begin with)?

How much of the backlog of magazines, journals and papers will never be read?

How much of the stockpile of staples in your pantry will expire before being consumed?

How much of what’s on your calendar or agenda is productive, necessary and meaningful?

Maybe eliminating the 80% that isn’t used, enjoyed, productive and meaningful, could take you a long way toward accomplishing more of your goals. Activities and commitments that are “low value” or “no value” may need to go. The same is true of the unused, unloved, outdated clothes, toys, foodstuffs, and paper piles.

If you haven’t used something for a while, ask yourself why you are keeping it? Because I might need it one day, or it’s too much trouble to make the cull, are not good excuses. If you’re saying yes to commitments out of fear or embarrassment, reconsider your motives.

Remember, better the right 20% than the wrong 100%!

 

 

 

 


Preparation is Key in the Kitchen

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Ben Franklin

Checklist

Failing to prepare, procrastinating, putting off until tomorrow what should be done today…
These are all strategies for disorganization, chaos, waste and heartache- outcomes that few seek. So why do we do the very things that sabotage success we crave? The answer is at least in part-we’re human and we’re creatures of habit. In our busy lives and fast-paced world, there always seems to be more to do than time to do it. Putting things off is a coping mechanism.

But preparation skills can be learned, practiced and habit-forming. And in the process, life becomes calmer, simpler and happier.

Consider these possibilities for success through preparation in the kitchen and pantry.

Grocery Store

Plans meals and keep a grocery list (easier than ever with technology) rather than impulse buying and not having anything that constitutes a meal. Shop less often but more intentionally.

Prep groceries when you unpack them. This means rotating your pantry stock, washing greens and cleaning veggies, unwrapping or unsealing the bottle or jar before you put it in the fridge. Spending a bit of time on the front end pays off handsomely on the back end.

Take stock of your pantry. Mystery jars outdated spices and cans all can be discarded. Food gifts you’ll never use can be donated to someone who will. Be ruthless. If you can’t fathom making a meal of something in your pantry, let it go. And don’t ever buy it again.

If you’re a small family, do you really need the jumbo-sized, discount grocery store? Just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean it’s a good value.

Not every meal has to be a gastronomic masterpiece. Ingredients for your go-to meals should be staples. If the ingredients are on hand (and prepped), eating at home is quicker, tastier, healthier and cheaper than blasting through the fast food drive thorough. And home cooking results in leftovers, which become the basis for lunches or subsequent dinners.

We’ve gotten in the habit of eating out. It’s dealt our pocketbooks and waistlines a blow. At Simplicity, we encourage you to get in the habit of eating in!


Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Thanks to Simplicity, the documentary, Minimalism, was recently screened in Charlotte to a full house. And a full house, or more specifically, an overly full house is exactly what the film was about.  My husband and daughter were my sidekicks for the evening-one, enthusiastic and one a bit reluctant.  But when the lights came up, we all agreed that Minimalism was thought provoking, inspiring and a bit guilt-inducing.

Minimalism

The film documents the two Minimalists’ odyssey.  From more is more, to less is more. From keeping up with the Jones, to charting one’s own path. And from piles of unused stuff, to owning just enough. Their journeys resulted in freedom- financial, emotional and physical.  And their mission now is not to climb the corporate ladder, in the right suit with the right gadgets, but to inspire others to consciously examine what they own and why they own it.  For the movie trailer click here

Less

In the spirit of Simplicity, each of us gives our single most important lesson from the film.

From the 30 year old:

Only hold on to things that bring value to your life.

There isn’t just one template for how to deal with possessions.  Each of us has our own threshold for what is enough and what brings value to our life.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A collection of snow angels might make one person grab a trash bag but for someone else, it could be a treasured and tangible connection to a loved one. And how do you measure the value of something?  Do you use it?  Do you have space for it?  Can you afford the time or money it would take to replace it if you ever decided you needed such a thing?  No matter the value in absolute monetary terms, if the object doesn’t bring value to you, let it go.  Paradoxically, your life will be enriched by having less.

From the 60 something male:

A big change is easier than small one.

As counter-intuitive as this may seem, there is neurobiology supporting it. Often the trigger or nudge is more compelling for a big change than a small one. We evolved as horders. Stockpiling worked in times of scarcity when basic needs were hard to meet but our biology betrays us now.  Biology begets “buyology.  With small changes rather than a sweeping change, there can be a feeling of continual deprivation.  It’s like the addict who needs another hit. And this need for more precludes the feeling of contentment from having the “luxury of enough”.

From the 60 something female:

You think you own your stuff but your stuff really owns you. 

We’re hardwired to feel loss more strongly than we feel gain. Letting go of things is more painful than acquiring them is pleasurable.  We’re wired for dissatisfaction.  Advertising and social media feed that dissatisfaction. Dubious claims of ‘New and Improved’ render the existing version unsatisfactory.  Keeping up with the Jones is exhausting and expensive. We live in a junk culture where ‘more is more’. The cheaper, the better is the lifeblood of mass retailing. We can turn that around when buying fewer things, but better things becomes our habit. Remember the Chinese proverb, “Buy the best and you only weep once”.

Here’s one final thought from the film. You can never get enough of what you don’t really need because what you don’t need, no matter the quantity, will never satisfy.

And lastly, a possible mantra for those on their own minimalist odyssey-

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  Hans Hofmann, German abstract expressionist 

By Robin McCoy


Simple Habits for Mindful Eating

“Food reveals our connection with the earth. Each bite contains life of the sun and the earth. We can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread! Contemplating our food for just a few seconds before eating and eating with mindfulness, can bring us much happiness.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

SimpleHabits

We’ve all done it. We eat on the run.  We eat behind the wheel.  We eat behind a screen. We scarf down what’s within reach without thought from whence it came or how it would or would not nourish our bodies.  We eat when we are nervous. We eat when we are bored, sad, or happy.  We rarely slow down long enough to recognize hunger or take the moments required to determine why we are munching.  We may graze mindlessly through our day or numb ourselves with too much food at each meal. Eating this way, is it a wonder that we often find ourselves unsatisfied at the end of a meal, feeling unwell, and perhaps, un-nourished?  Of course not. And if you find that this is your reality more often than not with food, you will find great benefit from learning to become a more mindful eater.

When you begin to eat more mindfully, you will likely find that you:

1)    Consume less and are satisfied with less because you take the time to notice and experience each bite.

2)    Enjoy more fully the experience of eating.

3)    Consume better foods because you are more conscious of the quality of each bite and the effect foods have on your wellness.

4)    Have better digestion because you are slowing down, reducing stress, and taking the time to chew your food.

5)    Become more aware of hunger and satiety cues.

6)    As you cultivate mindful eating, you will become more aware of “enough” and eat/order/shop accordingly.  Less food will be wasted.

So, what habits should you develop to become a more mindful eater?  Well, as you will hear often from us in the next several months, “It’s simple but it’s not easy.”  Practice is the only way.  Here are some suggestions for getting started.

1)    When you are eating, only eat. Do not attempt to multitask with the exception of sharing the experience with those you love.

2)    Always eat at a table. This will eliminate your tendency to mindlessly graze.  Even a snack will be etched into your consciousness if your rule is to sit down at a table to eat it.

3)    Practice gratitude for the abundance in front of you.  Appreciate the appearance, the origin of the food, and the preparation.

4)    If you have prepared the food yourself be also mindful in its preparation.  Think of it as a gift you give yourself and those you love rather than as a chore.

5)    Take it one bite at a time.  Notice your sensations as you eat.  Chew each bite thoroughly.

6)    Take the time to consider the interconnectedness between all living things, our planet and its peoples, as well as the impact our food choices have on each.

We invite you to join Simplicity and Spunky Avocado on our Less is More journey. If you’d like to join our private Facebook Group, Less is More, which we hope will bring you inspiration, confidence and motivation to get out there and live more while consuming less plus monthly giveaways, email us.

 

Sources: Psychology Today, Eating Mindfully, Huffington Post

 


The Playroom: Where Fun Meets Function

Less is More.  This is a good lesson for children to learn early in life.  And toys are a great place to start.

Playroom

An organized play space is a functional and attractive alternative to the chaos that reigns in many homes.  If a dedicated playroom isn’t available, a corner of the family room, bedroom or kitchen can be a good substitute. For toddlers and young preschoolers, the more visible and central the location, the better.

Regardless of where playthings call home, avoid having more toys than space permits.  If you’ve already exceeded your limit, purge now, before the birthday party or holiday gift-giving season approaches.  If you’re at comfortable capacity, adopt the “one in-one out” rule to avoid overload.  Make sure your child has in mind which toy from home is going to leave before a new one is purchased.

Weed out age inappropriate toys.  For toys your child has outgrown, contain and label for younger/future siblings, share with friends, or donate to charity. Overly advanced games and toys will be frustrating. Store them until the appropriate time – and if that time is years away, consider letting them go.  Purge anything that is broken or missing pieces or that your child no longer enjoys.  If you have the luxury of additional storage space in your home, consider a toy rotation.  Keep only a portion of the age appropriate toys in circulation at one time.  Every few weeks, stash a portion of what’s in play, and substitute a few items from storage.  Make sure the toys that are being stored are clearly labeled and are very accessible.  This is almost as good as a trip to the toy store!

Establish activity centers. While the floor is great for blocks, Legos, and train sets, you’ll need a table and chairs for puzzles, crafts, and doll tea parties.  Don’t skimp on containers or chaos will be back in spades. Open shelves and lidded clear plastic containers are a good choice.  Ziplock bags work well for individual puzzles or games with many small pieces.  Avoid large baskets and bins, which quickly become catch-alls for unrelated toys.

If your children are old enough, allow them to be involved in the process.  Label containers or shelves so everyone will know what belongs where.  Printed word labels are appropriate for older children, while picture labels for younger ones will facilitate cleanup. If your child is learning another language, bilingual labeling is a good way to reinforce foreign vocabulary.

To summarize:

Designate a play space with several activity centers.

Ensure toys are age and space-appropriate.

Contain and label.

Fun meets function!

Looking for inspiration to declutter and serve the community?

This year, Simplicity Organizers are teaming up with Augustine Literacy Project and Freedom School Partners, to host their annual book drive in the month of May. We are encouraging the community to donate gently used children’s books (Grades K-5) to the Read a Book, Give a Book celebration. This year we will donate the books to Montclair and Rama Road Elementary schools in hopes that every single student will be able to take home several books to read over the summer! Please email us to find drop off location in your area.

Charity sites that accept toys and school supplies:


The Luxury of Enough

Examples abound of the idea that not only is enough, enough, but just enough is an incredible luxury. Less is more! At Simplicity, this is our reason for being and sharing this concept with our clients is just as important as the hands-on organizing.

Contentment arises when we feel gratitude for what we have, not angst for what we don’t.  Happiness comes from the simple pleasures of home and hearth, not from acquiring ever more things and riches.

Simplifying your life requires a good deal of introspection and honesty. Living with less makes space for what matters most: Less is more.

Consider these possible paths from The Simple Home by Sarah Nettleton:

1. Simple is Enough. Needs and wants are not the same.

2. Simple is Flexible. There are many paths to achieving your goal.  Be creative.  Share ideas.  Ask for help.

3. Simple is Thrifty and Sustainable.

4. Simple is- well, Simple. Are you overwhelmed, overscheduled and over “stuffed”?  Streamlining your home and your life might be just the ticket to reducing hassle, stress and chaos.

We invite you to join Simplicity and Spunky Avocado on this journey toward less for a more fulfilling life. If you’d like to join our private Facebook Group, Less is More, which we hope will bring you inspiration, confidence and motivation to get out there and live more while consuming less, email us.

Spunky Simplicity Less is More


From a Client’s Perspective

We take confidentiality very seriously in this company, however one of our clients, Cindy, has offered to share her experience of working with Simplicity.   We think you will benefit from her candid perspective of why she chose to contact Simplicity and why she has entrusted us to help her this year.

CindyMills

From a client’s perspective…

I am very grateful for your investment in me and my family. I was transparent and vulnerable because you created a safe place for me to be those things.

As the saying goes, “you sought to understand before being understood.”  And for that, I am thankful this morning.  This will be a journey, I know. But I trust where we are going even if I am a bit sweaty this morning at the notion of learning all of this and realizing how much I have to learn.  But as with life, it will make the destination sweeter.  I also reflected on the fact that through those lean years the Lord created a tender, empathetic heart in you so that you would not only have a thriving business but also be able to help others sort through the chaos to find a simpler life. Nothing ever wasted.

Yesterday, with your recommendation, I bought two open mesh file containers to put under the cabinet so that I can see and access them quickly.  I bought the file sorter you pointed out online as well as two paper trays to serve as my inbox and Ken’s.  I think

Ken has never been happier!!!  His mail is in one place and it is only Friday!!

I am committed to doing my tasks and believing I have to find JOY in the process and enjoy what lies ahead with life resembling a well-designed, well-maintained machine that operates efficiently producing “good works”. Then I will be prepared for what lies ahead as best I can at this stage in my life. This morning it occurred to me that it may prove helpful to journal this journey in case it will encourage someone else down the road. Getting back in the saddle this morning.

Looking forward to all that awaits this year!

Cindy