Minimum conscious effort
I love walking into a clients home for the first time.
The look they have on their face says it all. They are unsure of what is about to unfold in the next couple hours and fearful of being judged.
We go on a tour of the room together. They explain to me how things piled up.
Then, they all ask the same question: "So, what do I do with this space?"
And I always respond, "Well, what is this space being used as now? "
It takes them a minute to respond.
I love beautiful curated homes on IG. Some of the accounts I follow leave me drooling over their empty white walls, cleaned off counters and crisp white floors.
Then enter in real life. We are a homeschool family of five and my husband is in medical residency....beautifully curated furniture...no, not happening right now on this budget. White anything...no way...let me just say three boys under seven.
Spaces are unique. Rooms are functional. Hey, guess what, as I write this post I have a stack of books to be donated next to me. As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I have more books than some small rural libraries. I have many things.
Stuff piles up...that's life...I get it.
My job as a consultant isn't to eliminate 99% of your things (although you should try that as an experiment and let me know how it goes).
My job as a consultant isn't to say you got it wrong.
My job as a consultant is to assist you in creating a space that requires the minimum amount of effort from your brain and creates a peaceful environment for your family.
I have found after countless hours organizing, decluttering, re-organizing that if the set up looks good in the magazine, but isn't working at home then ....it isn't working.
The only way to a clutter free, peaceful space is to create areas that work specifically for your family.
Charlotte Mason says, "And a great function of the educator is to secure that acts shall be so regularly, purposefully, and methodically sown that the child shall reap the habits of the good life, in thinking and doing with the minimum of conscious effort." (Volume 2, Parents and Children, pg. 124)
As a mother and educator this quote spoke to me to instill virtues and habits into my children.
But I also saw this quote in terms of a living atmosphere.
When she says, "...thinking and doing with the minimum of conscious effort." I believe we need the space to make sense first and then make it pretty. Could we accomplish both?
Rather than asking, "What do I do with this space?" Try asking, "What is this space being used as?"
Next, consider these questions: Do you want it to continue to be used as that or do you want to change it?
Are the kids naturally throwing coats on the floor here (add a child friendly coat hanger), are the kids leaving out the toothpaste (add a fun container for brushing teeth items), is the mail piling up in this counter (add a mail basket and system for filing).
Can you train your kids and husband and dog and cat and turtle to use the space differently? Absolutely...well..not sure about the turtles.
But...consider this first...
Naturally our brains want to do the minimal amount of work. We grow, mature and train ourselves to do more when needed. If naturally, kids are putting shoes to the left when you want them to put them to the right, perhaps the flow should change. Put the shoe bin on the left. Or maybe there are just too many shoes?
If you need to implement a new toy organization try thinking about it in terms of your children's height and abilities. Can they really put this puzzle away on the highest cabinet or do they naturally put it on the second shelf? Or maybe there are too many puzzles options?
More than likely we all have too much in these spaces already. Check out this free decluttering download to start clearing away the extras.
When you yearn for the Pinterest perfect living room or the white kitchen picture to post on IG also remember it needs to be functional with the least minimum amount of conscious effort.
It needs to be natural and flow easy in order to maintain longevity with a clutter-free peaceful space.
Now, go forth and conquer that space; first by decluttering and second by making it require minimum effort to put something away.