Maximize Your Passions, Minimize the Rest

Take a look around your home and see if your passions are obvious. Do you have balls of yarn and sewing projects, strewn around your home? Multiple bookshelves packed tight with books of your favorite subjects? Closets full of shoes for every occasion? A ridiculous amount of pens ands journals that make your heart flutter when you look at them? Cupboards full of baking accessories? Piles of comic books on your nightstand?

We all have belongings that bring us oodles of happiness, but they often don’t shine as brightly because they are surrounded by mountains of crap. Decluttering is the best way to recharge those items with the joy they once brought you.

Sometimes we hold onto hobby related items because we think we might want to pursue those projects in the future or because we feel guilty getting rid of something we spent good money on. Every time I saw my poor bag of knitting needles and half finished scarves, I felt shitty. Like I had failed and that I needed to give knitting another shot. I am finally realizing that that is bull shit. The reason I retired those needles over and over again is simply because I don’t like knitting! I didn’t want to admit that to myself because I love the idea of being a knitter, the only problem is I don’t like to knit. I absolutely hate pulling out all of my progress to fix a previous mistake. I always mess up when trying to count my rows because I have the attention span of a goldfish. Knitting doesn’t make me happy and that is perfectly fine!

Photography on the other hand, I love the shit out of photography. I frame my photos and display them on picture ledges. I print them and make projects out of them. I design photo books and look through them when the mood strikes me. I post my photos on social media and then turn those posts into Chatbooks that my family and I occasionally read as bedtime stories (narcissistic much?). I use them to create personalized Christmas gifts. I get so much joy out of editing them in the evenings while sipping on a glass of wine and watching a show. Oh sweet bliss, how I love photography!

There was a time though, that I didn’t take full advantage of my photos like I do now. If I felt inspired and attempted to make a project or decided to print my favorites, I got discouraged by the sheer mass of photos I had collected. Boxes of old photos tucked away in storage were filled with duplicates, too many photos of ex boyfriends, and embarrassing ‘artsy’ photos from my high school days. Even worse was the digital mess. I had dozens of CDs worth of photos from my first point and shoot camera and literally thousands of unedited photos filling multiple hard drives as well as my computer. I would get so overwhelmed that the inspiration would fizzle out and the projects never came to fruition.

After taking the time (and it took a hell of a lot of time) to declutter and organize my photos, I am now able to access them quickly and easily. Yes, I still have thousands of photos and that is perfectly okay. That is wonderful! It isn’t about the number of items you keep relating to your hobby. It is about keeping only the ones you love and getting rid of the rest.

review:

Discard the hobbies that don’t hold your interest anymore.

Pinpoint which items in your home you are passionate about and edit them down to only the things that truly make you happy.

Find an organizational system that makes your things accessible and looks beautiful.

 

10 Ways KonMari-ing My Shit Changed My Life

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life” – Marie Kondo

My obsession with decluttering began when I read Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  No joke, it literally changed my life.

Kondo’s philosophy is that you should touch every single one of your belongings and only keep what ‘sparks joy’. This process of discarding should happen all at once and be done intensely and completely (it took me about three months). She believes that your home has all the storage you need and urges her readers to tidy first before deciding where to store your things.

Here are ten ways applying the Marie Kondo commandments to my home changed my life:

1. I KNOW WHERE EVERYTHING IS

When you only keep the things you love and designate a home for each thing, you know where all your crap is. Even when I lived in a much smaller apartment, I still didn’t know where everything was. I would spend way too much time searching through my stuff and it would drive me bonkers. Knowing exactly where every item is in your home helps you avoid buying unnecessary duplicates and saves you a ton of time.

2. MY BASEMENT IS NO LONGER A STORAGE UNIT

Luckily, I KonMari’d my shit within the first couple years of having my very own basement. Still, I accumulated quite a lot within that first year. I figured, what is the harm in keeping something I might want one day in the basement since I have so much space down there? Having the space is not reason enough to keep something! It is a slippery slope to having a bunch of crap that will take days and days to go through and will stress you out in the meantime.

You might not want to think about this, but eventually you are going to die and someone else is going to have to go through all of your stuff and that someone is most likely going to be a family member whom you love. You don’t want that for them, so make it a point not to use your basement as a storage unit.

If you are lucky enough to have a dry, normal smelling basement like me, then you can take full advantage of this space. I use mine to do laundry (no choice there), play pool (okay my husband is the one that does this, I am usually too tired at the end of the day to do anything involving standing), and play with my kids. We set up a playroom in the corner of my basement and it is quite possibly my kids’ favorite room in the house. My three year old often chooses to have her quiet time down there and my nine month old kicks in excitement when the door to the basement opens (weird, right?). So make the most out of your basement and don’t make the mistake of using it to store all of the shit you don’t actually need.

3. FOLDING LAUNDRY IS FUN

Dork alert! Kondo’s promise that you will love to fold your laundry doesn’t come to fruition for everyone, but it did for me. I usually spend a day getting all the laundry clean before diving into the big folding ceremony. I hesitate to say this, but I even save this ‘event’ for the evening when I can watch a show (or listen to a podcast) while folding it all in one fell swoop. I am a tad controlling of how my clothes get folded so I won’t even let my husband help when he offers.  I love making the little piles and then neatly stacking them into the laundry basket to be distributed the next day. Seeing my clothes all standing at attention in their drawers just does it for me. When you only keep the clothes that “spark joy”, you learn to take better care of them which is evident in how you fold and store them.

4. ADDRESSING ISSUES WITH THE THINGS I LOVE

When going through my clothes, I was deciding if a knit sweater was worth keeping. I loved it but I never wore it because it had a snag that drove me crazy (type A people can relate). When I decided to keep it, I googled how to fix it (turn it inside out, pull snag through and tie a knot). Those Sperry shoes my husband bought me for Christmas a few years back, but they give me blisters so I never wear them? I googled that one too. (Believe it or not there were many articles on how to fix this problem. I went with wearing them with thick socks for a few hours and blow drying the heel. Supposedly soaking them in salt water and then wearing them until they are dry works wonders as well.) One of my favorite necklaces that broke? Sent an email to the designer who graciously fixed it and sent it back looking even better than when I first bought it.  I used to feel shitty every time I saw those unworn shoes from my husband or that broken necklace but no longer my friends. Now, they fill me with delight because I took the time to bring them back to life.

5. I HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE WHEN I GET DRESSED

One of my favorite changes has been in my closet and drawers. If you have been to my house in the past year or so, it is very likely that I have offered to show you my t-shirt drawer and possibly even my underwear drawer (oh yeah baby!).

Before my KonMari purge when I would get dressed up (aka not wear my active wear), I would try on a handful of outfits and end up feeling discouraged. My room would look like a tornado hit which ya’ll know is not great for post date night romance. If the outfit was snug in all the wrong places, I would be reminded that I should lose those fifteen pounds. If the style was a passing trend, I would question my personal style and wonder if my clothes were dated. If I recently bought a shirt but never wore it, then I would feel guilty about the money I wasted. Not a great way to get excited for a rare evening out.

Donating these clothes that caused me strife was incredibly freeing. That dress that was cute on the hanger but was way too girly for me. The jeans that fit fine but that I was never excited to wear. Those button up cardigans I bought because I thought they were a necessary wardrobe staple.  That workout shirt that only ever fit for a few weeks after running a half marathon. I freed myself of all of those clothes that didn’t represent who I am today and the experience left me feeling confident and happy.

Now, I love every single one of my outfits and I am choosing between the things that make me feel great about myself.  I have a better sense of my style and getting dressed takes just a few minutes.

6. GUILT FREE HOME

One of the most gratifying parts of the tidying up process is liberating yourself from objects whose only attachment to you is guilt. I had no idea my home was brimming with things that made me feel terrible. A gift that I no longer wanted but kept out of guilt. The fancy blazer I bought within a month of having my first baby because I was going though a new mommy identity crisis (I literally never wore the damn thing and it hung in my closet for years, laughing at me and my stay at home mom-ness).

Seeing these things every day was bringing me down without me even realizing it. Such freedom when I released these things back into the world where someone might actually use them and love them, and I could stop feeling shitty about their uselessness in my life.

7. GLORIOUS EMPTY SPACE

Oh how I love empty spaces! Never in my life have I not had to stuff my clothes into my drawers when putting away laundry. This alone is worth the effort of tidying up. Even better, an entire drawer being empty! I could hardly believe it was possible. Even my bathing suits have a dedicated drawer just for the fun of it.

Empty surfaces are my jam. I have a frame on my dresser and nothing else and this makes me happy every single morning. (It also makes it way easier to clean.) I cleared off my kitchen island entirely which thrills me every time I lay my eyes on it. I tidied up my kitchen counters by storing my microwave in my pantry and my toaster with my pots and pans. My clutter free kitchen makes cleaning a breeze, provides more space for cooking and creates an overall happier experience in the kitchen (which is great since I spend half my time there somedays).

My mind instantly relaxes when I am near these spaces. Filling every corner and stuffing every closet creates a sea of distractions where we can never just be in the moment or get one thing done to completion. (Need some help creating an empty space in your home? Check out this post.)

8. RIP THRIFT STORE OBSESSION

Oh thrift stores, I love you and hate you simultaneously. I was in the habit of going to my favorite thrift store weekly, sometimes with purpose, but mostly to get that jolt of energy from buying something to add to my home. A picture frame, a mirror, random glassware, whatever. I was also letting my kid pick out a new book (or five) every time and the piles of books were accumulating faster than I could read them. I thought I was being responsible because these things were used and therefore cheaper, but I was turning my home into a collection of random shit and was wasting hours of time in the process. Breaking up with my thrift store obsession has been liberating to say the least (although a few of the things I bought there made the cut and so it wasn’t ALL bad). Next up, break up with Target (gah, I don’t know if I’m ready!).

9. USING THE THINGS YOU KEEP

When you hold an object in your hand and you realize it does spark joy, it is like you reenergize that item that had been collecting dust. If the things you love are mixed up with all of your other belongings, it is hard to even notice them. After decluttering, I began drawing again which I hadn’t done in years. My CDs which had been dormant for years were transferred to my computer and then donated. All those songs I used to love are now on my phone and I can listen to them any time. I kept a handful of my daughter’s newborn clothes and decided to hang my two favorites in her room so I would see them every day (this is also helpful when your kid is driving you nuts and you need a reminder of how little they used to be…  although even that doesn’t always help when the threenager is full throttle). It is like I have activated these things that had been forgotten, and now they are apart of my life in a meaningful way.

10. ROOM TO GROW

And now, the ultimate goal of decluttering – attaining a clear vision of how you want to spend your time and your life. What is working and what isn’t? What do you want your days to look like?

The things that haven’t been working in my life were much harder to ignore after going through this process. I knew what I needed to weed out next, even if I wasn’t ready to address it right away. My unhealthy habits were lining up, waiting for me to KonMari them next. This is where I am at now and it is even more life changing than donating half of my stuff. This is the meaty part of life. The self reflection. The bigger picture. Living with intentions instead of drifting through life. Decluttering your stuff is just the beginning and it sets you up perfectly to take the next step which you’ve subconsciously been longing for.

I would love to hear if you have been bitTen by the konmari bug. Leave a comment explaining how Kon Mari has changed your life for the better.

Drink The Bullet Journal Kool-Aid

“We have to externalize our thoughts to declutter our mind” – Ryder Carroll

Do you have random lists scattered all around your home? When you go to bed, do you think of everything you should have done that day, but didn’t? Do you miss the simplicity of pen and paper? Bring on the life changing, brain organizing, the one and only Bullet Journal. Oh how my life has changed for the better since discovering this simple but genius method. I will never buy a one size fits all planner again.

Do yourself a favor and check out this video before reading the ten ways that the Bullet Journal has streamlined my life.

1. CLEAR MIND

Being an adult means your mind is a very busy place.  We are constantly thinking of things we have to do, things we should do, things we forgot to do and it is stressing us out big time. Purging all of those thoughts via pen and paper is incredibly relieving and the first step in sorting through our mental chaos. When you do this regularly, your mind is free to move past those tedious thoughts and onto bigger and better ideas.

Before I discovered the bullet journal, I would get into bed at night and be bombarded with countless, stressful thoughts. What a terrible way to end the day. Now, I find that my mind is free for reflection or to further explore ideas I’m interested in. It is like I am able to bypass the petty aspects of my life and focus in on the substantial parts that have been out of grasp until now.

2. CREATIVE OUTLET

You don’t have to be a wanna be artist to enjoy having a creative outlet. If you loved doodling on your notes back in high school, then you will love adding this artistic aspect to your BUJO (oh yeah, thats a thing). Just go on Pinterest and searchbullet journal to see some exquisite spreads.

Warning: don’t let the beautiful pins stop you from beginning your Bullet Journal. It is fun to add color and design to your journal, but if you go too far down the Pinterest rabbit hole, you might get overwhelmed and never start. I found it was best to start with the simple version that Ryder explains in the video above and then slowly start to add more creative details and spreads as you go along.

3. JOURNALING

I’ve always been a journal keeper… until I had kids. Who has time for that? Well now I do, sort of. I don’t journal consistently, but sometimes I will write a few sentences down at the end of my daily log. I love that I don’t feel pressured to do this every single day and just do it when inspiration hits. I write about a whole range of subjects, but usually I just summarize the best parts of my day in the hopes that I won’t forget them in the future.

I also write about the cute and frustrating things my kids did that day. Ya’ll know that those memories are bound to fade by tomorrow, so jotting them down as they happen is perfect for busy parents. Here is a real example from my BUJO: “On the way home from hanging out in Manayunk, Jane asked us if when she grows up, will we still be her parents. So sweet and sad”. This is super useful if you want to make baby books for your kids, but just can’t find the time or energy to do it. You can refer back to these tidbits when you have the time to get crafty as fuck (you know, in like 15 years or whatever).

4. MOMMY BRAIN FRIENDLY

If you are a mom, you probably can relate to the phrase “mommy brain”. I think I need to rename this phenomenon, “worried I have a brain tumor” because there are some days where I am seriously concerned about my inability to form sentences. It’s a god damn miracle that this blog is even happening people! Seriously, while writing this post, I have had to google what I am trying to say in order to find the word that has escaped me. My three year old occasionally comes up with words faster than I do.

While the bullet journal can’t give me my old brain back, it can help me organize my thoughts and make it so I won’t forget appointments or playdates since I plan out each day the night before.

5. A LIFE REFERENCE

I revisit the pages of my bullet journal time and time again. When I am writing a packing list for my family, I will look back at a previous packing lists to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Every tax season, I scramble to remember how to locate everything I need. This year, I wrote it all down as I completed each task and included detailed notes that I can refer to in the future. This almost makes me excited to do taxes next year (okay no, that will never happen). I can see when I last cleaned the bathrooms or vacuumed so I know which cleaning task I should prioritize. I jot down little things like when I put in new contacts so I know when it’s time for me to open a new set. I also take notes during important phone conversations which has proved to be quite useful. All these points of reference help me stay on top of the little things that otherwise might through the cracks.

6. EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE

No more looking around the house for that piece of junk mail I scribbled an important number on. Keeping everything in one place is such an obviously great idea, but somehow I never figured this out until I discovered the bullet journal.  I used to record my notes and to-dos all over the place- phone apps, pads of paper, sticky notes, email, the list goes on. Never again. Every idea, list and doodle goes into my bullet journal where I can easily access it when need be.

7. FEELING ACCOMPLISHED

Every time I complete a task, I feel a little more accomplished. Being able to look back at the previously completed tasks makes me feel like I am on top of my shit. When you finish a task, as small as it may be, it motivates you to keep on going. That thrill of accomplishment makes you want to schedule that dentist appointment just so you can “x” off that task. If you decide to put it off, you have to rewrite that task for the next day. After doing this a few days in a row, you finally get the damn thing done just so that you don’t have to write it down for the fifth time. The system works and you will feel good about your day when you review everything you’ve accomplished.

Before I drank the bullet journal kool-aid, I rarely dealt with those pressing issues that should have been high on my to-do list but were too stressful to focus on. If I couldn’t manage my daily tasks, how the hell was I going to find the motivation to confront the bigger to-dos like finding a new doctor or setting up a Roth IRA account?

Now that I am able to stay on top of my daily chores, I find it less intimidating to add these more consuming tasks to my monthly spread. It also helps that when I add it to a month in my future log, I am not specifying which day I will undertake the task. I am simply setting a goal for myself to get it done sometime within that month. Once it is written there, it is way more likely that I will complete it.

8. IT’S ADAPTABLE

Possibly the best thing about the bullet journal is that it’s adaptable to you and your interests and lifestyle.  Every bullet journal is going to be drastically different because it reflects it’s author and their priorities. Here are some examples of what subjects have made an appearance in my bullet journals: quotes, savings goals, restaurants to try, names to remember (one of my all time favorite ideas- I write down peoples’ names after meeting them in the hopes that it will help my remember them and it totally works), birthdays, packing lists, ideas of things to do with my kids, Christmas gift ideas, my baby’s sleep logs, notes from the books I’m reading, family trees, my home’s floor plan layout, food logs, various fonts to try, things I want to learn more about, cleaning logs… maybe this should be it’s own blog post. My point is, there are so many things you can do with this and you get to pick and choose what works for you. There are no limits and that is why this is the only journal/planner for me.

The structure of the bullet journal is defined by its flexibility. You can start a list on one page and continue it ten pages later. You fill your bullet journal as you go and never have to worry about limited space which is a big concern in other planners. I find this especially useful for my daily log which varies in length throughout the week.

9. UNPLUG

I’ll admit it- I am really bad at unplugging. I am getting better lately, but it still takes a lot of effort to not glance at my phone to see if I missed a text or to check Facebook for the hundredth time. Bullet journaling is a much needed break from screens and power cords. I don’t have to update, download, restart or charge my notebook. It sits there peacefully on my coffee table, waiting until I have a moment to check in and say hi. Pen and paper are comforting and reminiscent of simpler times.

10. YOUR PRIORITIES COME TO THE SURFACE

Have you ever been asked what you want and answered “more time”. I can see exactly where my time is going when I review my bullet journal. All I have to do is look at the tasks, events and appointments that fill the pages and see what needs to go. It is hard to change anything in your life until you examine what you are doing right now. To save money, you need to see where you are spending those paychecks. To lose weight, you need to track your calories in verses calories out. Same thing goes for time. What do your days consist of? Does that make you happy? Or do you need to do some life editing? (Check out this post I wrote about how to do just that).

I hope these insights into how the bullet journal has streamlined my life motivates you to give it a try. You don’t need a fancy notebook, (although if you want one I highly suggest the very popular dotted Leuchtturm) and if you give it a go, you might find that you will be able to sleep a little better at night.

If I can’t convince you, maybe Ryder Carroll can. Check out this TED talk by the bullet journal creator:

HAVE YOU ALREADY DRANK THE BUJO KOOL-AID? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.