Make A Start: Sort Your Home & Your Life!

life-isI don’t usually mix interior design ideas with general motivational self-help tips, but today I’m making an exception.

I frequently write about both subjects, one wearing my former interior designer hat and the other my non-fictional author hat. Today I’m going to explain why I believe that if you want to gain control of your life these two seemingly unrelated topics actually link together. Trust me when I say it could make a huge difference to your day-to-day life if you sort the easy stuff! And it is easy…

If I wrote a letter to my teenage-self after a lifetime of experience, what would I say? Well, just three things:

1. Surround yourself only with people & things that make you feel happy

2. Accept what you can’t change then spend your precious time on what you CAN change

3. Work smarter, not harder

Sadly, most of us have things happening in our daily lives over which we have no control. I’m talking about the big things – ill-health, divorce, losing loved ones etc. There are, without doubt, times when you just have to keep going as best you can. But life truly is what you make it. You can also let the smaller, negative things constantly pull you down and drain your energy. Or, you can focus on how to grab onto what makes you feel happy and gives you energy to battle life’s harsher moments.

1. Surround yourself only with people & things that make you feel happy

clutterSome people generate their own negativity and you can choose not to be a part of it. Remember, too, that happiness is infectious, so after a bad day think about how you can lift your mood. Whether it’s playing board games with the kids, or having a luxurious bubble bath, or listening to music … do something that will allow you to switch off from the anxieties of your day.

But when you go home do you live in a state of chaos? Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you cleared out those cupboards, or did a run to the charity shop with the unused items pushed under the bed that haven’t been touched in a long time?

De-cluttering your home will make it easier to clean and allow you to easily find the things you actually need. When you walk through your front door you need to feel ‘ah, I’m home’. If you open that door and are faced with a constant reminder of the ‘to do’ list of things you haven’t yet tackled, it’s time for action.

What does home represent? Essentially, we all need a place in which to relax, somewhere we feel safe and can unwind. It isn’t about having a designer home, or expensive items around you. It’s about surrounding yourself with things that make you smile and feel relaxed. However, most of us have to share that little bit of heaven with someone else and if it’s a growing family then chaos can ensue. Coats, shoes, school bags, books, toys, sports stuff … If your house is packed full of things then nothing really gets appreciated because it’s buried. When you step through your front door the first thought on your mind will be ‘what a mess’, or ‘look at that pile of ironing’.

Have one major sort out and if you have a family get everyone involved. Get rid of anything that hasn’t been used/read/played with for more than six months. Find a home for all the annoying things that are often left around the house – shoes, coats etc. If you need more cupboards then consider upcycling if you are on a tight budget. A little sandpaper and paint can turn something that isn’t particularly attractive into something more interesting. Teach the family to put things away, rather than creating dumping areas that make a room feel closed-in. If you do it properly once, and keep it going, you will feel like a burden has been lifted. And housework? Well, it will become less of a chore and it will be quicker to give it a once over.

Here are a few useful storage ideas to get those ideas flowing!



A. Keep leads labelled in individual bags and keep them together; B. Baskets and boxes are easier on the eye than piles of items; C. Find a coffee table that will also store toys etc.; D. Upcycled table and DVD rack becomes coffee station; E. Store clean – keep items in sealed boxes if they are seldom used; F. Side table and storage facility; G. TV & DVDs in the top half, paperwork files in the bottom half; H. Old drawer and toilet roll tubes!

2. Accept what you can’t change, then spend your precious time on what you CAN change

OK, so you can’t perform miracles, that means you are going to have to focus and be realistic. This could relate to something about you, your family members, your friends – anyone who is a part of your life. It’s one thing to offer advice, but if people don’t listen and keep going around in the same circle then you have to pull back. Use your time and energy where it can do most good. And yes, I have written a book about it.

But let’s bring the focus back onto YOU. Do you spend more time feeling stressed than feeling happy? If the answer is YES, then something has to change or you’ll find yourself on a slippery slope that could lead on to depression. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is YOU. You will have to be honest with yourself and find solutions. You might not be able to afford to quit that job just yet if there’s no other way to pay the bills, but maybe you can develop your interests outside of work. Hobbies can sometimes grow into business opportunities. But if you do nothing, then nothing will change. Have a plan and work towards it. Live with hope and purpose, not dread of another day doing the same things that aren’t making you happy.

In some situations it’s about seeking help, or advice. Or, if the family are driving you mad, treating the house like a dumping ground and taking you for granted … well, you know what you have to do! If you are a home carer, then maybe you need a break and it’s time to reach out for help. Everyone needs a little ‘me’ time when they can switch off from the demands around them – and that includes YOU.

3. Work smarter, not harder

Being organised isn’t a luxury these days, it’s a necessity and if you don’t embrace this discipline then you are, quite simply, wasting your own precious time. Make lists, order your food shopping online, buy and write out your birthday/anniversary cards for the whole year in January… Don’t be that person who does everything at the last minute. You’ll end up spending more in time and money, because everything will creep up on you and then suddenly it’s another thing to cope with when you least need it. Tax returns, monitoring your bank account, paying the bills etc are things that don’t go away, so establish a routine to spread the load. Mark your calendar so that you have a constant reminder to do things on a regular basis.

Using shortcuts saves time. Don’t feel you have to be a super hero. Guests over? Meals to prepare? Don’t feel pressured to impress if you don’t have the time to make everything yourself. As long as it tastes good your guests won’t care whether that bolognaise sauce is home-made, or shop-bought. It’s about enjoying the company, not proving you are chef of the year!

Is it really necessary and/or saying no! When life is really hectic you have to stand back and consider what needs to be done and what is a luxury. Don’t do something just because you’ve always done it. For example, you enjoy sewing but lots of friends often come to you to ask you to take up their curtains etc. Sewing is something you do for pleasure maybe, so it’s often fitted in at the end of a long day. It’s time to learn to say ‘no’. Or maybe you are a cleaning freak (like me) – but if it’s not really dirty and you are pressed for time, then it’s something that can wait.

It’s simple, isn’t it? Think you are smart? However, if you’re not already doing these things then you fall into the working harder category! And that’s YOUR choice.

But there are two elements to this and for those of you who are life’s do’ers this will involve delegating. No matter how much of a control freak you are, if you don’t begin to let go and trust other people to be responsible, you will at some point run out of steam. If you find yourself hesitating, then just remember that life is much shorter than you think so you owe yourself some time to enjoy it. Or time enough, at least, to help reduce the pressure of sheer overload/exhaustion. Especially in a family situation, it’s important that everyone pulls their weight. This might also apply in a work situation if you let people take unfair advantage of you just because you get things done.

Life has to have balance and everyone will have a different set of problems to deal with alongside the usual day-to-day work/life tasks. But if simply sorting your home and organising your life saves you 10% of your time – let’s say 2.5 hours a day – that’s 17.5 a week, 70 plus hours a month. Now that’s a RESULT and enough time to indulge in a satisfying hobby, study for a new qualification, consider setting up a little business… the choice is yours!


Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas

and a healthy, happy & prosperous New Year! x



Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author