The first month of my "Happiness Project" has been completed and although I did not get as much done as I would have liked, I am pretty happy with my accomplishments. If you did not see my first post explaining the Happiness Project, here is the link to what exactly it is that I'm doing.
I decided for my March resolution and goals to keep some of the same ones that Ms. Rubin started with during her first month. I really enjoyed her first chapter and agreed with pretty much everything that she said.
My overall resolution was "Boost Energy" and my goals were to
- Go to sleep earlier
- Exercise better
- Toss, restore, organize
- Tackle a nagging task
I have to be honest. This goal was a major fail and I think I maybe went to sleep at a decent time 5 days out of the entire month...and that's probably being generous. I did however do less reading (which is my usual reason for staying up too late) and more picking up around the house before bed.
*sigh* Another goal failure. I started off pretty good with Kellan and I taking several walks around the neighborhood at the beginning of the month. I guess I could use the weather as an excuse but there were some nice days that were wasted. I could use being pregnant as an excuse too but I NEVER missed a day of exercise during my last pregnancy. The end of month result for this goal is that I just did not make physical activity a priority in my schedule.
Toss, restore, organize
O.K. now for the positive results. I cannot stand clutter. I hate large amounts of objects that just sit around with no purpose. I prefer simplistic styles with very few objects as opposed to jumbled and cluttered surfaces, shelves, and walls.
Here is where my problem comes in. I married a man who already had a house. A house decorated and filled with every possible fireman, fire truck, fire station, construction worker, builder, JMU graduate decoration you can possibly imagine. I endured it for almost 4 years before I had to do something about it. I do not think that I have the right to come in and just start trashing his things or making major changes to a house that he built before he ever met me.
HOWEVER, I live here too and I am NOT a fireman or a contractor. Second, I am the one that has to clean and dust all of this stuff sitting around. Third, and most importantly, it is hard to be happy (and feel like the home is HOME) when the majority of the decor has nothing to do with you and doesn't remotely fit into your style or taste. I am also practical and could not just start throwing things out simply because I do not like them...as long as they are serving a purpose.
All of these concepts are difficult for a man to understand. If it was up to Michael he would probably have the painting of the lighthouse (that he received when he was 10 years old) hanging in the bathroom for the rest of his life. Most women enjoy picking out things for their home, (especially newly married women) unfortunately my new married home was already decorated with a bachelor fireman/contractor theme crossed with middle aged/country. At the time our house did not look like a late 20's/early 30's couple lived here at all. I've made changes here and there over time and this month I made a few more.
The majority of my changes this month were organizational. Just like Ms. Rubin said in the Happiness Project "Household disorder was a constant drain on my energy"...I couldn't agree more.
Keeping Your House Clutter Free: Tips from The Happiness Project That I Have Started to Implement
1. "One Minute Rule" (Do it now)- If a task takes a minute or less do it now, don't put it off. This one rule pops in my head constantly. Taking care of the mail immediately after opening, filing important documents, putting away items that I've finished using, etc.
2. Evening Tidy Up- Before bed take 10 minutes to pick up the main living areas of the house. This has cut down on the clutter that Kellan's toys create. Before I leave the living room at night I put all of his toys and books in their designated baskets. It definitely makes for a happier morning to walk out into a picked up living room rather than a toy strewn one.
3. Pay special attention to "Dump areas." These are areas of your house where clutter gets dumped. In our house we have several of these:the mud room right where we walk in the door from the garage, the pool table, and the end of the kitchen counter. I am trying to make a conscious effort to keep these places cleared because if they are clean, you are less likely to leave something there. This is a constant work in progress (especially if you are the only one working on it).
1. I started off by taking an entire car load of junk to Goodwill that I had cleaned out and put in the garage over the last year. It sat there for an entire year with hopes of a garage sale or some other more productive ending but finally I just decided that it had to go. It depressed me to look at the mess every time I pulled up in the car. My husband has a difficult time getting rid of anything...if I wait on him to clean out anything we will be hoarders in the next few years.
I followed Ms. Rubin's advice on how she de-cluttered her NYC apartment. Objects around your home that collect on surfaces need to be put away. A "home" needs to be found for them or they need to be tossed.
I LOVED her description of the types of clutter:
- Nostalgic clutter- sentimental objects that you keep from an earlier life
- Conservation clutter- useful objects...although they may not be useful to you (ten million coffee mugs in our case-WHY?!)
- Bargain clutter-unnecessary objects that were purchased simply because they were a good deal
- Crutch clutter-objects that you keep and use although they are not in good shape and should be replaced
- Aspirational clutter- objects that you aspire to use but know that you never will (My husband's collection of books that he refuses to get rid of, never mind that he has never been a reader, including a copy of Dr. Phil's Love Smart: Find the One You Want, Fix the One You've Got...I'm not kidding...he WILL NOT let me get rid of it...maybe clutter is not my top worry?)
- Buyer's remorse clutter- bad purchases that you just can't get rid of because you're still waiting on the time that you can validate buying them (a pair of gold pants that have been hanging in my closet for over 7+ years with the tags still on them...if I haven't found anything to wear with them in all of this time, lets face it, I never will)
|And after :)|
|I even organized and alphabetized our spice drawer. Maybe it seems extreme but I was always digging through the drawer looking for a particular spice and sometimes we bought extra because we didn't know we had it. Now I know exactly what we have, where it is and what needs to go on the grocery list.|
I also cleaned out every kitchen cabinet and drawer. We have gone from 2 junk drawers to one semi-organized junk drawer. All of our cooking utensils have a spot and are grouped. The ones that I use the most are right beside the stove. I consolidated all of our paper goods and put those in the bottom of the pantry to make the cabinets less cluttered. I also organized and cleaned out the cabinet above the stove so that all of our cooking oils and sauces are in-date and easy to find. I cleaned out the Rubbermaid/Tupperware drawer and threw out anything that did not have the container and lid (and I matched up the ones that did). I organized and matched Kellan's cups and baby food making items. Next I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer and got rid of things that were out of date and/or were just not going to be used.
Just the kitchen alone took me over a week to organize. I will cut myself some slack though because along with organizing, I cleaned everything. I wiped down and cleaned the inside and outside of the pantry, cabinets, drawers, baseboards, microwave, refrigerator and freezer. I even took down everything off of the top of the cabinets and dusted. I decided that it was too cluttery and I had never been happy with the way it looked so I left it empty for now. Michael had a huge toy, remote control fire truck on top of the pantry. I finally had to break it to him that it had to come down. The only way I will put something back up there is if I find items that I love...not just something to fill the space.
3. After I was satisfied with the kitchen I moved on to clean off the pool table which has become a catch-all for "projects," organize and arrange the new shelves and desk that Michael built for the living room, and rearrange the side board and dining room table.
5. This was our living room before. Nothing was wrong with it...just kind of plain...and the lamps didn't match...that drove me crazy.6. I finally changed some things in the guest bathroom and added some family touches and took down decorations that scream I'm a 60 year old woman lives here that loves lighthouses (while both of us love to visit a good lighthouse, neither of us are 60 or lighthouse fanatics). Luckily I had already cleaned out these drawers and cabinets some other time so that didn't need to be done (probably where the Goodwill load came from at the beginning of the month).
|I added a chalkboard picture frame that we got for a wedding gift with a family photo and hung another wedding gift on the wall that is our wedding date written in Chinese.|
|I wrote a saying, found on Pinterest, that I love on the chalkboard frame...and its very fitting for a bathroom :)|
|Michael hung a picture that we found at TJ Maxx along with a couple more framed family photos. The flower picture I had in one of the guest bedrooms and I moved it in here to replace the 24 year old lighthouse picture.|
|I love the saying on this canvas and it is more fitting for a family bathroom.|
|Kellan's bath time has taken over this side of the guest bathroom. Since his turquoise bath toy basket is empty in this picture that means that they are all piled in the bathtub behind the curtain.|
|I also finally bought a shower organizer to go in our shower. I will explain the big spray bottle and brush in another post.|
|Now our shower niche is not cluttered and everything actually has a place.|
|Michael was very against the hanging shower organizer but it totally annoyed me having stuff laying around on the shower floor. This is much better.|
This is one statement that I have a very hard time with. If I'm immediately going through MY mail but Michael isn't going through his and letting it accumulate...there is STILL clutter. If I'm constantly picking up around the house and he is constantly taking his dirty shirts off and draping them over the furniture...my work is pointless. If I am putting away objects as soon as I'm finished with them and he isn't...his clutter is still there. I straighten the pillows on the couch and they stay that way ALL day until he gets home. He moves them all around and then gets up and goes to bed...hence my need for the "Evening Tidy Up." This is a problem that I am currently dealing with because I feel as if I clean and pick up all day everyday but there are still objects laying around not in their place. If anyone has any solutions to this I'm all ears because at the moment my 34 year old is making and leaving bigger messes than my 1 year old. I could go on...this could be a whole post in itself.
9. I also cleaned out smaller but just as important areas like my purse, diaper bag, and car.
10. I started on my closet but it is proving difficult to clean out since I am pregnant. I can't throw out clothes that don't fit and that I'm not wearing because right now NONE of them fit and I'm not wearing ANY of them. I did manage to clean out one section of shelves (producing half a trash bag for Goodwill) and organize my scarves thanks to this really neat hanger that Kimberlee gave me for my birthday. My closet will continue to be a work in progress.
For me, a lot of the nagging tasks were taking care of the problems I mentioned above like finally doing something about the shampoo bottles sitting on the shower floor and having to scour every shelf of the pantry to know whether we had an extra bottle of Ranch dressing or not. So much of the tossing, restoring, and organizing tasks took care of my nagging list of things I needed to be doing.
However, there will always be plenty to do on a to-do list. It seems as many items as you cross off, you add double that amount. I have tried to implement another piece of Ms. Rubin's advice, "Sometimes the most difficult part of doing a task was just deciding to do it." I am making an effort to mark some things off of the to-do list that have been ignored and keep getting transferred over to a fresh list. The more I am able to mark off my list, the less drained I feel from dreading all of the things that I should be doing. Being productive definitely gives me a happiness boost.
The good thing about this project is that even though I am starting on a new resolution this month, I will still keep the resolution from the previous month going. And its a good thing because I'm not finished organizing. I have a long list of areas that still need to be organized and cleaned. Not to mention making another attempt at going to bed earlier and exercising.