Living, Organization

Tips to Achieve Brain Zen

As many of you know, I am a veteran of the U.S. Navy. This means I had to move a lot. In fact, I moved 8 times in 5 years. Holy Cow! Honestly, I loved every minute of it. When we moved into a new home, it was like starting fresh; we had a clean palette to work with and a chance to get rid of things that I no longer needed or wanted, even if I didn’t know that it was time to put those things in the “trash” pile.

A huge benefit of packing up and relocating is that you can clean out every space of your home. It means going back to minimal necessities to calm your mind. Let’s call it Brain Zen.

Have you ever felt like everything was falling apart, and then looked around and your office, room, house was over cluttered? These tips will help you organize those spaces so you can relax your body and mind and focus on the things that matter most, like family.

Tip #1: Start in the “Most Stressful” Room

Do you have that room in your house, that whenever you walk into it, you are immediately stressed and would just rather turn around and shut the door? For me, that was our office/craft room. I previously posted about organizing my craft closet, but that was just the first step. This room was a total disaster! When my husband started his business, American Made Tiny Homes, this room became a catch all; unfinished projects moved in to make room in the garage, wall decorations piled up from painting the hallways and bathroom, torn paper scattered the floor (thanks to one or multiple of our four-legged family members), and endless piles of business papers and other documents that needed to get re-filed in the cabinet.

I started out by moving this old entertainment center into the room. We had picked it up for $5 with every intention to paint it, but I still haven’t gotten around to it. I used the cabinet to hide books, decorations, and craft supplies that were left out. As I picked things up that I wanted to put in this cabinet, I asked myself, “is this something I need?”, “Am I going to use this in the next year?”, “Does this item have sentimental value?”. If the answer was no to all of these questions, I either threw it out, put it in a donation pile, or posted it for sale on local online marketplaces.

Next, I tackled our desk and the mountains of papers. I put the hanging file folders back in the cabinet and I made new folders for any business documents that I couldn’t store in the cabinet. As I picked up a folder, I went through its contents, shredding what was no longer pertinent in order to make room for more documents in the future.

Finally, I vacuumed to finish it off. I highly recommend vacuuming the room when you are finished. There is just something about fresh vacuum lines that calms my mind visually.

Tip #2: Go room by room

If I start a second room before the first one is finished, both of them will not get done. I find that I get the rooms done faster if I organize and sort one at a time. If I find something that belongs in a room that I have already completed, I will take the time to find that item’s home instead of just tossing it in the room with the intention of putting it ways later.

                    “Everything has its place”- My mother-in-law said this to me the other day. She used to tell this to my husband when he was growing up. Unfortunately, he is still notorious for putting an item down where it doesn’t belong.

The order you choose to take when organizing each room is up to you. I choose to go from messiest, or most stressful spaces, to the least stressful rooms and spaces. If every room has a walk-in closet, and both the room and closet need attention, break that up into two “spaces”. I like to make a list of the order I plan to go in and then mark the spaces off as I finish them. Each check mark is a self-pat on the back, because who doesn’t want to feel accomplished?

As you finish each space you will feel energized, lightweight, and excited for the next space. Remember to ask yourself the three questions to decide if you need to keep everything or if you can lift some of that weight off of your shoulders. “Is this something I need?”, “Am I going to use this in the next year?”, “Does this item have sentimental value?”

Tip #3: Get Rid of Multiples

Do you have three tablets, four gaming systems, 2 exersaucers, 5 of the exact same spatula/spoon set, and 4 million pairs of shoes? Do you really need all of that stuff? I found, that when I went through drawers and gave everything its own place, the extras were no longer necessary. They just became clutter.

I also found that I could break down my wardrobe into seasons. A few shirts, pants, and shoes for each part of the year. In preparation for summer, I would pull out ALL of the summer clothes and try them on. If I didn’t like the fit or style, out it went! Erin over at Cotton Stem has a great blog post about using capsule wardrobes for each season. Check it out here.

Tip #4: Throw Out Expired EVERYTHING

When was the last time you went through that stack of cans in your pantry? I organized my mother’s pantry for Mother’s Day, and I found canned goods from 2014! She had just moved into her house 2 months prior and decided to pack everything in one house and unpack in the other, without looking at expiration dates. If she had checked the dates before packing, that would have been less stuff that she would have needed to move.

Moms pantry sans expired goods.

Did you know that shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and sunscreens have expirations? If you are a hotel room shampoo collector, much like myself, you should know that that body wash you snatched from the Bellagio in 2012 is no longer good to use(but the bottle is so flipping cute). I recommend washing out that little bottle and refill it with your own shampoo just before a trip. It comes in handy because the bottles are, typically, already labeled. If I find that I don’t want to take the time to clean a bottle out for reuse, I will just toss it. It is not doing me any good if it sitting in a drawer and taking up space.

This little logo on my shampoo means “Use within 18 Months of opening”

Have you had your mattress so long, you don’t remember the year you bought it? If you check the manufacturer’s tag, it will tell you when the mattress was manufactured. If you are beyond EIGHT years, it is time to throw that bad boy out! (but yay, new mattress!)

Tip #5: Ditch the Extra Food Storage

I have to do this a few times a year! What I will do is pull out all of my plastic food storage containers and put a lid on every… single… one… Seriously, whether you have 5 or 500, this step is key! The next part is super easy. Take your extra lids and containers that don’t have a match and toss them! I mean, where did they even come from? I clean out the fridge, freezer, put the dishes away, but there is always extras!? Once I finish, I love the way my cupboard looks with all of the pieces stacked neatly.

That’s it folk’s! If you use some of my tips and tricks, you to can live minimally and achieve brain zen.

What are your tricks to organize your way to brain zen? Let me know in the comments below!