January Money Diet Day 15 – Create a Calm Space

Beautiful space

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

Welcome to Day 15 of the January Money Diet. Today’s challenge is about making a peaceful, uncluttered spot.

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 vast 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.

What About The Messy Heathens I Live With?

If you have little kids or family members who don’t share your zeal for reducing clutter, you may have to focus on just the spaces you can control right now. I’ve been there, and I know it can feel a little discouraging to live in an untidy space. But perhaps you can work on straightening your side of the closet, or organizing your dresser drawers, or neatening your shop area in the garage. Create a secret place of calm for you, and you’ll feel a little less frustrated.

Keeping Things in Perspective

Groceries | Happy Simple LivingOnce when my daughter was a toddler and I was working long hours and commuting and feeling generally overwhelmed, I stopped at the grocery store after work and bought a huge cart of groceries. I hurried to my car to load the grocery bags, and an older woman who was carrying one small bag smiled at me. “Oh my,” she said. “You’re right in the thick of it, aren’t you?”

I nodded, feeling like I might cry because of her kindness and recognition.

“I was like you once, but now my children are all grown and my husband died last year,” she said, holding up her one grocery bag. “So it’s just me now.”

We looked at each other and nodded, and I sensed that she would give anything to be back “in the thick of it” as I was.

I think of that holy encounter when I feel overwhelmed, and try to remember to be grateful for these jam-packed days. Someday, I know I will look back on my child-raising years as the Good Old Days. We do the best we can, so let’s be kind to ourselves during each of life’s seasons.

This Weekend’s Challenge

In the coming days if you’re in the mood, spend a little time decluttering one area. It can be a small or big project, depending on how much time you want to devote to it. You could tidy your bedroom so it feels like an oasis of calm at the end of the day. Or you could 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 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.

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 of this page.

And if you’re tired and you just feel like relaxing, by all means do that.

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


The signature for Eliza Cross

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 Day 15 – Create a Calm Space

  • Sarah

    My husband took my keys to work with him by mistake. This left me with the whole day to declutter. My house looks so much better un-holidayed and strightened up! I loved this challenge!

  • Lynette

    I have been decluttering slowly for over a year now, finally completely cleared my garage this week, painted the walls and now it is set up as a Lego room. The Lego area in my house is now cleared it is so nice to have reclaimed that space I can now use my back door again.

  • Lynn Louise

    Earlier this month I cleaned out the corner cabinets with the lazy susans in them. The lazy susans each got a good cleaning and then I organzied the contents of the cuboards tossing old pans and tupperware that I never used. Now each time I open those cabinets, it makes me smile that they are so clean and organized. I have a stock pile of items that will go to our yearly garage sale that I hold with my friends. Last year we made a good sum of money and are hoping to do the same this year. Today I organized my sweaters and also the sock drawer. I found 2 socks that didn’t have matches so they were tossed. I have 2 sweaters that I am going to get the most out of this winter but then they will need to go as they have seen better days. I also organized the pantry again. I haven’t gone shopping at all this month except to pick up bread and fruit. Other than that I have been using food that we have in the house. I have found things at the back of the pantry that I had forgotten about. A can of enchilada sauce, a box of stuffing, and a jar of salsa that my friend made. Planning on using these items for this coming weeks dinners. Saving money and getting organized. It’s a great feeling!

  • Lois

    I got the declutter bug right after Christmas. The remodeling of my home left me with tools in each room and was the spark to address the decluttering and straightening of my finished rooms. The moment a room is cleared of the unnecessary I feel so much better.

  • Colette

    Today I plan to tackle the VHS movies. I still have a VHS player, but haven’t watched most of the movies in a long time. My problem is attaching sentimental value to everything. However, when I do de-clutter, it feels so good, everything is organized and easy to find. When I need some motivation, I watch one of the “hoarder” shows on TV, and I’m spurred into action!

  • Oy! I have a massive amount of decluttering to do. It’s “Operation Reclaim the Basement!” Not gonna happen this weekend because I have a migraine today – and tomorrow & Sunday there is football to be watched! But, I did go online and found out that I can take the old CRT TV and monitor to Best Buy for recycling. So that’s happening next week. Woo Hoo!

  • Lyn

    Love love love this assignment. Uncluttering is one of my favorite money diet projects! You got me started 4 years ago and I have been at it ever since. I now actually take a few house each January 1 to clear out and clean up a space – – this year it was under my bathroom sink. I put is small metal shelving on the walls to hold some things and got rid of really outdated bottles and soaps from hotels. Inspired, I then tackled some drawers in the kitchen, consolidating, eliminating, and putting all the things we use 1 – 4 times a year into a drawer that we hardly ever use. By doing all of that, we were able to create a “tea and cocoa” drawer between the refrigerator and stove – – now my 14 year old daughter, who likes to drink tea, can actually reach what she likes! Finally, throughout this month, I have been trying to find moments to sit in my ‘sacred space’ I created two years ago… Thank you thank you for the ongoing inspiration!

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