Monthly Archives: August 2013

A 4-Part Approach to Simplifying Life

The 4-Part Approach to Simplifying Your Life

This is a guest post from my friend, Debra Dane of Home Life Simplified and author of the new book, ‘Simplify Your Life – From the Inside Out’.

Many books and blogs approach simplifying life from the perspective of removing things to make life simpler.

  • Declutter to free up space.
  • Say no to cut back on commitments.
  • Buy and consume less.

While I definitely focus on what I can let go of, my approach is actually four sided.

I use a four part tool that helps me decide:

1. What to keep – things that are working as-is and I want to keep them. It is possible I will even increase them in my life.

2. What to delete – things that do not serve me well. I consider what brings me down or stands in my way, complicating life. These things are beyond help and just need to go.

After these two steps I have a clear picture of what “is” before I go into the two remaining areas.

3. What can I edit? – What do I want to keep, but needs to be adjusted. This might be an activity I want to remain involved with that needs to be scaled back or a task that needs to be adjusted to reflect the current season of my life.

4. Finally, knowing what resources (Time, money, energy) I still have available to me I can look at adding in things. What is missing in my life? What could make it easier or more fulfilling? What have I been longing for?

I use this approach whether I am decluttering my home and wardrobe or setting goals. It helps me examine things from all angles.

Sometimes life is made simple by removing things, but sometimes it comes from adapting or adding in what I really need to live a good life.

Download a worksheet from my new book ‘Simplifying Life -From the Inside Out’ and try it out in your own life. (Click here to download.)

For goals I use it to help me figure out potential roadblocks and possible supports to help me reach my goal. In other areas it is a more straight forward examination of what is working and what needs help.

This post is adapted from Deb’s new book ‘Simplify Your Life – From the Inside Out‘. In this book and workbook you can explore who you are, what you want and what is standing in your way, so you can simplify and live life your way.
Deb blogs at Home Life Simplified about intentional and authentic living. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook or Twitter.


August is the Month of Living Spaces

August is the Month of Living Spaces - 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge
{ via Apartment Therapy }


Last month in the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge, we tackled the Big Jobs. It was probably difficult. Most definitely frustrating. But hopefully, worthwhile.

This month is a little easier – thankfully.

In the August round of the Challenge we’re focusing on the living spaces in our homes. And depending on the size and layout of yours, this will include some or all of the following areas:

  • Lounge/Living Room
  • TV/Media Room
  • Play/Toy Room
  • Hobby/Crafts Room
  • Library

For most of us, these spaces will be a combination of rooms, rather than five separate living spaces.

For example, in our home, we have a TV room that doubles as a play room and library (in the non-fancy sense that it’s where our bookshelves are!) We also have another sitting area with no TV, which is where we read or spend screen-free time playing and chatting.

This month’s tasks will be easier if you can separate the space you do have into different zones, loosely based on the five areas listed above. Otherwise what seems like a relatively easy space to declutter will become overwhelming – fast.

To jump right in to the challenge, you can download the August checklist right here. Or keep reading to find the full list, as well as added tips and suggestions below.

August is the Month of Living Spaces

Over time, and as our access to technology has increased, the term ‘living room’ has come to mean ‘entertainment/media/TV room’ in most modern homes. A living room will typically include a TV, games console, DVD player and stereo, as well as books, toys, games and possibly even somewhere to sit and have a conversation.

Instead of thinking specifically about the decluttering in this month’s Challenge, try viewing it as an opportunity to rethink how you use your living spaces.

As you move through each space, decluttering and paring back, consider shifting the focus of your living spaces back to living. That is, return the focus to people, conversation, relationships, reading and listening to music – rather than simply watching TV.

While most homes will always have a television, try making it a secondary use of the space, rather than the sole use. You could move the TV to the corner of the room, or arrange the room into a more conversational shape, with the furniture all facing centre, rather than the television set on the wall. Even try it out for a month and see if it makes a difference to the way your home feels.

The August Declutter Checklist

Click here to download a printable version of the August checklist.

A Note on Toys: You might notice that toys are listed here as an area to declutter this month. And if you feel confident in doing that, then by all means dive into the toy box with wild abandon! If, however, you feel overwhelmed just thinking about it  – and I know many of you do – I am currently working on a series of posts to help with this specific area. So just work around the toys and come back to it later in the month.

TV Room

  • Entertainment Unit
    • Start with the flat surfaces, keeping an eye out for decor, clutter and items that are out of place.
    • Electronic equipment – games console, DVD player, DVR, etc. Keep what you use and get rid of duplicate items.
  • Media
    • DVD collection – Day 5 of the Slow Home BootCamp deals with decluttering books, and will be helpful in deciding what to keep.
    • Video Games and Consoles – the cords, chargers and remotes that come along with these are also big clutter contributors. Keep what is needed and get rid of the rest. Consider selling the games you no longer play.
    • CD collection – now that most music is digital, consider passing on many of the CDs you no longer listen to.

Play Room 

  • Toys (see my note above)
    • Anything broken or unused can be donated or tossed.
    • Toys that your kids have outgrown can be passed on to friends or family.
    • Toys you are holding on to for sentimental reasons – keep one in your child’s memory box and donate the rest to a charity.
    • Consider rotating toys every few months, to cut down on volume.
  • Craft Items
    • Kids crafts – keep one or two pieces of artwork from each child and display it in your home, or create a rotating wall of artwork.
    • Pencils, paints, scissors etc – toss out anything broken and donate duplicates.
    • Craft supplies – keep what will be used in the next three months and donate the rest to a playgroup or preschool.
  • Kids Books
    • Torn or broken books – repair them or recycle.
    • Duplicates – donate to a school or charity
    • Books that your kids have outgrown – donate any in good condition, use the rest for craft projects or recycle them.
    • Don’t stress about the number of books – this is one thing

Living Room

  • Bookshelves
    • Books – again, Day 5 of the Slow Home BootCamp looks at decluttering books and will prove helpful in deciding what to keep and what to let go.
    • Decor/Knick-Knacks – remember the mantra, “Is it beautiful, meaningful or useful?” Use that to help you decide what to keep and what to let go.
  • Coffee Table/Side Table
    • Books, magazines and TV remotes – remove what isn’t used and find a permanent place for the rest
    • Ask yourself if you actually need the coffee table at all? Is it just a magnet for clutter?
  • Furniture – ask yourself how much of the furniture you use and need.
    • Lounges
    • Occasional Chairs/Armchairs
    • Tables
    • Secondary storage units

Hobby/Craft Room

  • Craft Materials
  • Instruments and Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Bulk items
  • Excess Storage

(This Simple Living in Real Life interview with Alicia Parsons has some fantastic ideas on organising and simplifying your creative supplies.)

Again, you can download the August Checklist right here.

Tips for Tackling the Living Spaces

  1. Target flat surfaces first. The TV unit, shelves, the bookshelf and the top of cupboards, in particular. Clearing these areas of clutter will have a huge impact on how cluttered the room feels.
  2. Work through the contents of cupboards and drawers one at a time. Using the decluttering technique outlined here, ensure you finish one space before moving on to the next.
  3. Move your furniture to clear out the clutter underneath. Not only will you likely find things you’d lost, but you can also find a great deal of stuff to toss.
  4. Cast a critical eye over your decor, knick-knacks and wall hangings. If they are not beautiful, meaningful or useful, perhaps consider if they have a place in your home at all.
  5. Keep ‘messy’ items like craft supplies organised and out of sight. Storage baskets are useful in this case, as they contain the items and help keep them organised.


Do your living spaces need an overhaul? Have you found the right balance between living and consuming media? Or do you need motivation? Let us know in the comments below how you’re progressing in the challenge.