January Money Diet Challenge – Create a Calm Space

Reduce clutter during the January Money Diet

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Welcome to Day 9 of the January Money Diet, a 31-day break from nonessential spending. If you’ve just joined us, jump right in. Today’s challenge is all about reducing clutter.

Clearing space is a gift we give ourselves.

When we create an open, clean space to live or work, we’re honoring ourselves by creating a pleasant place of calm.

Along with the inner peace that comes from working and living in an uncluttered space, organized living means we’ll spend less time looking for lost items and more time enjoying a visually pleasing, harmonious environment.

Some of you may remember when I cleaned out a cabinet that held vases. I reduced our vase collection by half, and now whenever I open the cabinet I feel good.

Empty spaces in a cabinet? Believe me, this was a whole new concept for me. But what used to be a jam-packed source of stress is a half-empty source of peace.

How about you? Would you like to create a little breathing room in your home or office?

This Weekend’s Challenge

In the coming days when you’re in the mood, spend at least 15 minutes decluttering one area. It can be a small or big project, depending on how much time you want to devote to it. You could simply straighten up your desk, get rid of unnecessary papers and clean your computer monitor until it sparkles. Or spend thirty minutes organizing the medicine cabinet.

You could clean out your refrigerator and wipe down the shelves. Or tidy your bedroom so it feels like an oasis of calm at the end of the day. Unclutter the coat closet. Tackle one wall of the garage. Spend the afternoon straightening up the basement. It’s up to you. Just organize one spot, and bask in the satisfaction of a nice, clear space.

You deserve it, my friends.

For inspiration, you might enjoy Unclutterer and Organized Home.

If you tidy up a space and like the result, we’d love to hear about your project in the Comments section.

Enjoy the weekend, and we’ll tackle a new challenge together on Monday.


The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. You could win a deluxe Happy Simple Living gift box by participating in the January Money Diet. The box includes a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, $25 cash, pantry staples like bean soup mix and organic quinoa, signed copies of three of my cookbooks, homesteading supplies like soap, candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and much more.

At the end of January I’ll choose one winner from among everyone who comments–someone who has participated in this 31-day challenge with heart and soul and achieved good results. Good luck!

Photo:  Ron Brenner

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Challenge – Create a Calm Space

  • Lyn

    Wow, I have been so busy cleaning and clearing, I haven’t taken the time to celebrate and see what everyone else is up to!! Once again, I love these prompts. With each of these different habits, I find that it becomes easier and easier each year. Inspired by our family focus on home this January, I went wild this past weekend and cleaned our attic. It had not been my original intention, but I needed to clean it out and reorganize in order to make room for all the stuff from my office/creative space, I needed to store in order to make my office workable, less cluttered, and more productive. It worked! Two days of moving, recycling, and putting in the ‘give away’ pile later, and I feel lighter, happier and truly more productive. Once again, thank you Eliza!!

  • I seem to spend my life de-cluttering and all of my free time and energy. There is always a pile of laundry staring at me or a pile of work to do. As a relatively single mother of two teenage daughters, and a chef/instructor, I am always taking on consulting jobs on top of my full time job as a culinary instructor. The paper that accumulates each week is undaunting and my bedroom is my “office”. As a new year’s resolution, I decided to clear the space and clear my head. The gift of not looking at everything clears my head to be more production, so I bought an IKEA bedframe with drawers underneath so no more space is removed from my bedroom but I put all of my work there when done. This has created a huge amount of peace and space in my head! Thank you for making de-cluttering part of the january diet!

  • Cindy

    I have two containers in my house now – one for things to go to Goodwill and one for things I am selling. It’s easy to have the containers so I know right where to put items when I am decluttering. When the Goodwill one gets full, I can just make a trip to donate. I’m also keeping a piece of paper near the container so I can write down items I’m donating to have as a record for my taxes.

  • Catherine Godfrey

    Everyone’s house needs a calming space. Mine is quite & mess free. I love to read or listen to calming nature sounds. Sometimes I wish we didn’t have a tv

  • Cindy

    I’m loving the feeling of decluttering. It’s nice not to look around and see stuff everywhere. I purged a lot of Christmas decorations this year when I put away the decorations and asked myself whether I really wanted and enjoyed the decoration anymore or whether it was past its useful time with me and could be loved by someone else. My nieces were thrilled to be the beneficiaries of some of those decorations.

    Last night, I helped my mom put away her Christmas decorations. She lives in a small apartment and has 7 boxes of decorations. Getting into her closets to put way the stuff reminded me of how I don’t want to live. She’s moved twice in the last few years and we’ve purged a lot, but there’s so much that she holds on to that she never uses or even looks at. It’s more motivation to me to clear my clutter now and only keep things that I enjoy now, not things that had meaning to me years ago.

  • Tricia

    We did a major de-cluttering last year when we put our house on the market. It made the house look and feel so much homier. And was a much more peaceful place. It was also amazing how much stuff we packed up to move and we have really not missed it at all.

  • Jennifer

    I cleaned out under the stairs this weekend and used the space to organize our camping, luggage, and golfing equipment. Luggage is now out of my bedroom, (haven’t traveled for a couple of months now) and golf clubs are out of the hallway (we live in the country so I don’t trust some things in the garage where vermin can sneak in on cold nights). I even have room for more! I think I’ll go through my summer shoes and clothes to store them there for a couple of months. That will make my morning routine much easier to keep up with 🙂

  • Catherine Godfrey

    I can’t stand clutter it drives me crazy. The past few years I’ve made sure it keep clutter @ bay. I go through once a month & take out anything we haven’t used in 3 month’s. We don’t need all this STUFF. All the stuff could have paid off my car twice.LOL

  • Laura

    I tackled the garage this weekend, but there is more to do. I took a trunkful of things to Goodwill, but I know there is more to do. I organized bins of outgrown kids clothes to take to the resale store. I can’t wait to have a clean garage.

  • Stephanie

    I am working on organising my craft supplies this weekend. Finally I have two large cupboards that are going to hold everything in one place, it will be so nice not to have scrapbooking/cardmaking supplies, memorabilia and photos in lots of different places. Purging and putting some things on eBay. I know it will be such a lovely feeling to open and use the cupboards, whilst freeing up space elsewhere.

  • Lisa F

    I worked on my clothes closet today. I took a full garbage bag of clothes and shoes to the thrift store. (Most of the clothes were originally purchased there!) I took the bag right away so I couldn’t second guess my choices. I also removed 2 storage trunks and took them to the shed. (Family momentos) My closet is so amazingly clear and uncluttered. I feel calm when I walk in and I can easily see my clothes now.

  • Mindy A

    We are on a mission right now to save money, pay off debt, be mindful of spending & declutter our entire home! Our motto for 2015 is Simplify! Thank you for all your tips, suggestions & inspiration!

  • OK, you inspired me to tackle the kitchen. The thing is – I’ll come up with an organizational system that works, but inevitably something will change and my system falls apart. The seasons change and I go from salads to soups, or a cat gets sick and I go from needing a small section of shelf for cat food to a whole shelf for infinite varieties of food & medicine, yadda, yadda, yadda! And before you know it, my nice organized kitchen becomes a disaster area again!

    I think I’m just gonna have to resign myself to the fact that I’m gonna have to just keep evolving as life changes. And the clue that something isn’t working is when things start to pile up on the counters. If something keeps ending up on the counter it means that the place it’s supposed to live is clearly inadequate, so I need to change systems!

    So the cat dishes now live with the cat food rather than with the people dishes – and the new electric tea kettle now lives on the counter under the cabinet where the tea lives, and the bike water bottles now live next to the Gatorade mix. I’m under no illusions that this system will keep working, but maybe it will help keep the kitchen more manageable for a little while…

  • Lisa

    Just before Christmas, we sold our dining room table which had been used once as a table, and for the last 10 years has been pushed against the wall and used as a buffet at Christmas time. This freed up room and we started reorganizing, decluttering and deciding what we really wanted in that room. We have one more thing to move and I am already enjoying a much more open, decluttered room! This gave me the push to clean out the linen closet upstairs which also has baskets of cold medicine etc. Next on the list are some of the kitchen cabinets…

  • Lynn Louise

    I work everyday so by the end of the week the house is a mess. It would be less of a mess if the clutter was gone and only what we really needed was present. I have this weekend to look around and get a plan together. I will start with the laundry room where the washer and dryer are covered with dirty laundry waiting to be washed, shoes blocking the doorway, the cat and dog dishes on top of a crumpled rug, and coats strewn about the room. It needs attention. I already have plans for a garage sale this spring so anything that I find in my house that isn’t needed, is going to the garage for storage until May. Our cupboards are cluttered and the closets and I really just need time, or need to make time, to look through EVERYTHING and declutter. I have a plan, I just need to implement it. Maybe now is the time!

  • Green Girls Don't Get Fat

    I did major decluttering this past year and it feels so good. Every closet and cabinet is organized. I know where everything is and I can see all my clothes at once. We are two adults living in a condo less than 700 SF and we have clear counters, some empty cabinets and closets and storage that aren’t stuffed to full capacity. It is a wonderful feeling. I try to keep decluttering regularly.

  • Karin

    Good idea to try and reduce clutter. When I decorated for Christmas I put some things away to make room for Christmas stuff. As we put the Christmas stuff away and put other things back it will give me a chance to decide what to keep or donate.

    Our problem is that when I clean up a space next thing you know it is full of clutter again. Usually different stuff.

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