How to make your living space livable + chaos-free
Sometimes I can't believe how many years I spent in miserable chaos.
All those years that I'd miserably lived through unwanted and confused weight gain, that I was still letting myself get mistreated by men I dated, that I was still struggling through college, that I was working 2-3 jobs and still always broke, that I was overflowing with anxiety attacks no matter what I did. My twenties weren't a good time for me.
And it's not like I wanted them to suck. Nor was it that I wasn't trying to get my shit together.
It was just that whenever I tried, I kept failing.
I'd make progress in one area only to fall several steps back in another.
I'd get a better job and have to withdraw from a class I needed to graduate to work it. I'd break up with one bad-for-me person only to jump right into another bad relationship, just because I was afraid to trust myself. I'd pay off a credit card and then find out than an ex had stolen my identity and racked up hundreds in debt in my name. It was a cycle that I didn't think I'd ever break.
But I did.
What did it? I had to take care of each of the following five areas of my life. Without all of them, my foundation was unstable, and the rest of my progress wobbled on top of it until it collapsed.
You can learn from my mistakes and create a wonderful life for yourself without the decade of failure.
This is the first in a 5-part series that will be released over the next 5 days, and today, we're starting with the area you call home. Here's the whole thing.
Your Living Environment
The first area of chaos you should start tackling is your living environment.
Because it's usually the easiest to make big, quick improvements in + it's the area that we notice changes in the quickest.
These two factors mean that changing your living environment = a whole lotta bang for your buck.
Use the 80/20 Rule: You'll feel 80% better by taking care of the main 20% of your crap. Start with the big things that are often in your way:
- Things you trip over
- Things you have to circumnavigate to get by
- Things you have to move a lot to get something behind them
- Things that annoy you when you look at them
It often includes things like shoes on the floor, mail on the table by the door, unfolded laundry, unmade beds, and dishes in the sink. Take care of the 'forest' now and worry about the 'trees' when you have more time.
I challenge you to make living in your living environment something that calms you down + focuses your mind.
Not something that you get stressed-out just looking at.
Here is one way you can get started quickly, following the 80/20 rule:
Empty out your kitchen 'junk drawer' of everything you don't need.
Junk drawers are evil and, unfortunately, also useless.
Let's be honest: How often is the Scotch tape actually in there when you need it? The junk drawer gets so messy that we can't find what we need in it, but we still spend 20 minutes sifting through because maybe the wine key is just buried under last month's internet bill.
And stop calling it a junk drawer—that just invites more junk. What do you really need in the kitchen? The Unnamed Drawer should contain things you need to hand in the kitchen and/or for small, utility tasks.
Perhaps your drawer needs things like:
- A book of matches or lighter
- Bag clips
- Wine key/bottle opener
- Rubber bands for cracker bags, etc.
Now what do you NOT need in Your Drawer? Ohh, how I could go on. Here are some of the biggest offenders:
- Small change
- Broken things you might fix
- Pens (put them in the office/your work space)
- Cat treats
- Things you can't find another place for
- Take-out plasticware
- Condiment packets
- Lose paperclips, staples
- Decks of cards
But WHY are the items in the second list bad for your drawer? Because they're all things that encourage 'tossing and going'.
Toss-and-go: Tossing small items in one spot because you don't want to take the time and mental energy to decide where they should really go. It's lazy and it contributes to clutter.
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All of the items in the second list are items that would fit better in another spot.
Your small change should go in a piggy bank or change jar. Your cat treats should go with the cat food. Your medicine should go in the medicine cabinet. Your take-out plasticware should've stayed at the restaurant, but now that you have it, either use it or lose it. And don't let them put it in your bag next time.
Put these things in a more logical place, with other like items, and you won't spend an hour running all over the house looking for all your Monopoly pieces next time.
You might be able to get away without A Drawer at all
If you've got an office/work space, then the tape, scissors, stamps, and so on might be better put there. And the lighter/matches and batteries could go in your emergency kit.
You'd still have the bag clips, rubber bands, and wine key, but you use those in the kitchen anyway, so The Drawer is a good spot for them.
Tell me: Can you get rid of Your Drawer? What's in it? What can you not find another place for? Let's brainstorm together!