Dec. 24, 2020

Making Space for the New

Making Space for the New

You may not realize it but your physical space is having an impact on your happiness. When feeling negative about your space, and using negative words to describe it, your cortisol level is rising. Instead, try to turn things around. Life events like moving house, getting married, having a baby, suddenly single affords you new opportunities to curate your space according to who you are NOW, not who you were or would like to be. 

How many times have you viewed piles of papers or rummaged through an overloaded cabinet to get to the item you need? How do you feel as you go through this process? Anxiety? Frustration? Relief?Wish for a better way?

Decluttering and organizing go hand-in-hand. Before you can have that ‘Ahh’ moment, you need to go through your stuff. Decluttering is a practice that should become as routine as brushing your teeth.As we approach the end of 2020, this is a great time to ‘clean your slate’ and welcome the imminent New Year. So how do you do this? 


First thing, assess the area that bothers you the most. Set the timer for 10 minutes and see how many items you can go through in that time. You will be amazed at your progress. If you have the energy, keep going using this small bite approach. If you find you can’t do it alone, consult a professional who will guide you and help attain your goals.


This year has made us all more conscious of each purchase and how we can live with less. By addressing your clutter, you may see a pattern emerge. How many of the same items have you repeatedly bought because your stuffed closets, cabinets, etc. were hiding your bounty? By wearing clothing in your closet that is in great shape and using up what you have on hand in the pantry and linen closets, you’ll find you only need to replenish when an item is worn out or you’re down to your last one thereby avoiding space overload. Finding what you need when you need it not only results in a big savings that can go toward a financial goal but also helps you live within your space. 


Once you have gone through all of your problem areas, then it’s time to organize. Organizing translates into finding homes for all of the items you have left. Think about how you live. 


If you’re home schooling or working from home and using an existing spot like a kitchen table for these purposes, it’s imperative to have a place to put supplies away at the end of the day. It could be as simple as a basket or if you have room, use a designated shelf in a cabinet or closet to hold papers, devices, cell phones, etc. The most important thing is to have a place to put things away and signal the end of work and begin time for living. Feng shui tip - bedrooms are only for sleeping and sex. However, if you have no alternative but to work in your bedroom, make sure you leave a window open to let the work energy escape and help you enjoy your room for its original purpose. 


Don’t let little-used items take up valuable real estate in your kitchen or closets. If you only bake for holidays or wear lightweight cottons in the summer, then combine all of your holiday accoutrement into one central place; ditto out-of-season clothing. No extra closets? Clear plastic totes work for holiday decorations and cotton, breathable storage is great for clothing. And don’t forget to label!!!!


Consider upcycling items you like but no longer have a use for into something you can use or appreciate. Turn a family heirloom into a piece of art by making a shadow box. Favorite clothing or other fabric items can be made into quilts, curtains or pillows. Think outside the box and use an item for something different. I needed a landing strip by my front door and found the perfect solution by sandblasting, repainting and replacing the glass in a previously rundown aquarium table. If you can’t find a purpose, I guarantee if you get rid of the item, someone else’s imagination will give it a new life. 


Which leads me to the holidays…Presents are a huge part of the winter holidays. Ordering online in a no brainer especially since you’ve probably been doing it all year. But since we won’t be able to be together this year and in person shopping may be questionable, perhaps it’s time to have a moratorium on presents. Talk to your family/friends and suggest that this year you use your money to help the less fortunate in your area. Perhaps buy presents for a local family or donate to a local food bank - whatever you decide, the feeling you’ll get helping someone will take the place of a needless gift taking up space in your home. 

If your family/friends are insistent on giving gifts, consider giving them something of yours that they’ve admired or you think they would like. My family discontinued presents 30 years ago but my mom surprised us each Christmas with an item of hers handpicked especially for us. When I use her porcelain serving dish or cocktail shaker, among other things, I remember the love and thought that went into her presents.

Before you decorate, give all of your accessories the “once over.” Do the lights work? Are all the ornaments in tiptop shape? Do you really need to keep an item that you don’t find useful or that makes you happy? If the answer is no, consider giving away usable items and give them a second life of happiness for someone else. Any irreparable items should be discarded. Once you have culled your items, make sure you have proper storage so decorations are put away carefully and orderly after Jan 1 and are in good standing for next year.


Whether it’s all year round or during the holidays, decluttering emotional items can be paralyzing. Often there’s guilt surrounding an item (normally one you don’t like) so you may be holding onto it because you don’t want to hurt the giver or it has unhappy associations. I’m giving you permission to unload your baggage and not feel guilty. People who give you gifts should not expect you to hold onto it forever. Kiss items associated with a bad relationship or sad experience goodbye. I know this sounds easy - I know it’s not - but understand once you get the negative energy out of your life you will start to clear your path to happiness. However, if you REALLY can’t part with something, hide it away for six months. Set your calendar and see how you feel when you revisit the item. If you love it, by all means keep it, but if it brings up a lot of unpleasant experiences or emotions, or is irrelevant to your current lifestyle, get rid of it and move on.

Decluttering is a process. It takes time to accumulate possessions—so keep in mind it will take time to pare down. Motivate yourself to feel better about your space and visualize how you would like to live in it. By being strategic and taking your time to deal with your clutter, you will not only accomplish an enormous feat but also have a positive-impact on your well-being. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you take on this task. Your space doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work for you.

2020. Rosemary Flannery. All Rights Reserved.

Rosemary Flannery, a former broadcast design producer, has brought order to many chaotic domestic and international situations since she started her company, From Clutter 2 Clarity. She shows clients who are intimidated by organization that there is nothing to fear by helping them reclaim their residential and commercial spaces and transforming them into havens of calm and happiness. Rosemary can be reached@