How to Simplify Your Life: Less Stuff More Fun


Spring in North Texas is a glorious time of year. The weather is mild, the grass is green and for those who live in the master-planned community of Devonshire, there is always something fun to do. However, this spring is a little different for homeowners everywhere. It has to do with the “pandemic pile-up.”

After having the entire family stuck at home, 24/7, for more than a year, things may have gotten out of hand. Stuff - from clothes to toys, to home office detritus, to LIFE magazines from 1965, is everywhere! If there was ever a time when a family needed to take a long, hard look at the stacks and stacks of clutter and then contemplate a little “spring cleaning,” now would be that time. 

The tradition of spring cleaning has been around for thousands of years and was even an important part of ancient Jewish, Persian and Chinese civilization. Whenever the “clutter tipping point” occurs (“Honey, where are the kids and the dog? Could they be under all this mess?”), that’s when you realize you have too much stuff and it’s time to declutter.

Your Stuff: Does It Spark Joy?

With her little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Japanese design consultant, Marie Kondo set off a decluttering craze across the globe. In the process, the world got a little tidier.

According to a review, “her book breaks down her radical, two-pronged approach to tidying. First, put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it. Second, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to grab and then put back. Only then, Kondo says, will you have reached the nirvana of housekeeping, and never have to clean again.”

Start with Five Baskets

Decluttering the war zone that many homes have become starts with five baskets. According to Spruce Magazine, You don't need fancy tools to declutter your home, but you do need five baskets or bins defined for these five purposes:

  1. Put Away: This container is for items that have crept out of their storage spaces. This could mean a coffee cup in the bathroom or a sweatshirt in the kitchen. These are items that will go back in their designated spots.
  2. Recycle: This bin is for items that need to be recycled, such as paper, plastic, or glass.
  3. Fix/Mend: Use this container for items that need further tinkering, such as a pair of shoes that you love but which need to be cleaned.
  4. Trash: Designate one basket for items that are, well, trash—things that can go into the household trash immediately. 
  5. Donate: Designate one bin for items that you can donate to a charitable organization or another person. These should be items you can imagine another person wanting or needing. 

This magazine advises the “Director of Decluttering” to “bring these bins into each room as you work or leave them in a central place in your home while you work.”

Onward to the Rooms!

Every room in a contemporary home has its unique clutter challenges. Why not start with the smallest - the bathroom? According to Spruce, the best approach to getting your bath back is as follows:

  • Take everything out of the medicine cabinet and discard outdated medications, makeup, and skincare products.
  • Remove everything from the cabinets and the area below the sink and do a quick evaluation of what you are keeping and what you're tossing. 
  • Everything that did not have a home (Hello hair dryer that hasn’t worked for 10 years!) can be quickly sorted into the five baskets. 

With the momentum gained from the bathroom, be even more brutal with the bedroom. 

  • Start with your nightstands and remove anything on them that doesn’t belong there and put it in your Put Away bin. Do the same with the tops of your dressers, chests, and/or bureaus.
  • Toss or recycle any garbage or anything that has not been used in more than six months.

The black hole of clutter lurks behind that bedroom closet door! Tread cautiously but resolutely.

According to minimalistic mavens, the easiest way to declutter a closet is to first arrange your clothing by type. That means start with shoes, then boots, then dresses, then denim, and so forth. Pull out each type of clothing and decide which to keep and which to toss.

There will be four piles of stuff to deal with. Put away anything that was simply in the wrong spot. (eg. socks in your closet). Put any dirty laundry into the hamper or bring it to the laundry room.

Anything that needs to be repaired should go in the Fix/Mend basket and donations and consignments go in the Donate basket.

During the pandemic, the kitchen became the most important and most cluttered room in the house. Here are some ways to get it functional and tidy again. Spruce notes that “You can choose to declutter your kitchen by focusing on one category of item at a time (cutting boards, glassware, utensils, or bakeware, for example) or going by zone through each part of the kitchen. The first step is to empty each space, assess each item, and put everything back where it belongs. Start with your powerhouse storage spaces first, such as the pantry and upper cabinets. Then move onto the lower cabinets, drawers, the space under the kitchen sink.”

After this action, put those five baskets to work again.

The living room gets lots of traffic and, in most cases, has little storage space. The best advice for this room is to “start with bookcases, consoles, and side tables. Then move onto your coffee table and entertainment center. Empty them, assess the items they store, and then return them to their proper storage spaces. Put books away, take action on your mail, return remote controls to their proper places,” then bring on the organizing baskets and fill ‘em up.

Whew! That was easy. Right?

Devonshire: It Sparks Joy!

Once the clutter is gone or at least smaller, the residents of Devonshire can get down to the serious business of living larger. Great recreational activities such as watersports on Lake Ray Hubbard are just minutes away. World-class entertainment and dining are up the road in Dallas and some of the best antique shops in Texas are found in and around Forney. Now that there is some room at home, you can buy some wonderful new objects d’art! Win/win.

For more information on joining the warm, friendly community of Devonshire, just click here.