6 Quick Steps to Make Less into More

Make less into more in six simple steps.

Last week, I posted about the many mindset traps that keeps us from volunteering with our families. One of the biggest obstacles we face as parents is the overwhelming sense that life's too full, too busy, too chaotic.

It's time to simplify! Guest blogger Sara Pederson of Time to Organize shares six quick ideas to help you tame the chaos, which frees up both time and brain-space for meaningful, fun, family acts of service.

Six Quick Steps to Make Less into More

1. Reduce junk mail.

Call 212-768-7277 or visit www.dmachoice.org and ask to be taken off promotional mailing lists. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com to stop mailings of credit card offers.

2. Banish clutter.

Ask yourself three questions about each item in your home:  Is it beautiful? Is it useful? Is it loved? If you can’t answer yes to at least one question, it’s probably clutter that you can toss, recycle, or donate.

3. Stop future clutter.

Before you buy, consider whether it will make your life simpler or more complex. (Will you have to put it together, dry clean it, dust it, fix it, or organize it?)

4. Get clothes-cleaning under control.

Designate a laundry day (or two) each week rather than running small loads each day. Color code laundry baskets for each household member. Deposit clean, folded garments into each and have each person put away his/her own clothing. If you hate running to the dry cleaners, stop buying dry clean-only clothes!

5. Downsize your home.

Less square footage can mean less to clean and maintain, not to mention less financial stress. (A great resource is The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka.)

6. Give gifts from the heart, not the wallet.

For gift-giving occasions, set guidelines with family, friends, and coworkers. Instead of exchanging gifts, agree to put the money toward a dinner or fun outing. Or draw names so each person is responsible for only one person’s gift. Or forgo gifts altogether and donate money or time to a local charity. (Subscribe to Doing Good Together's newsletter for a list of monthly family-friendly volunteer ideas.)

Sara Pedersen lives in Shoreview, Minnesota, with her husband, two children, and tabby cat, Mulligan. When she’s not working with clients, she loves to dig in the garden, take evening walks, eat chocolate, and explore the North Shore of Minnesota. Since 2000, Sara has offered hands-on organizing assistance for countless Twin Cities residents. She helps them organize, simplify, and discover time to do the things they love, bringing a unique mixture of compassion, humor, creativity, and common-sense to each client session. For more helpful, creative organizing tips, visit Sara's blog.