Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House - The Key: Systems That WORK For YOU

You just got hired at a new job.

You show up promptly at the time that your shift starts and immediately find your manager to clock in. "Where should I clock in," you ask. "Well..." (Your new manager looks around unsure and very oddly looks around the room and proceeds to grab the closest piece of paper.) "Here, you go! Why don't you jot down your name and starting time right here!" 

You reluctantly do it, all of the time wondering if that small piece of paper is ever going to successfully make it to HR. 

"Where should I pick up my uniform?" Your manager responds by taking you to a room, opening the door, and then says, "Here, grab whatever you need!" You look ahead to see a massive pile of various clothes mixed all together...in different sizes and different styles. You come out after much time has passed hoping that what you salvaged and assembled is somewhat acceptable. "OK, what should I work on first?" you ask your manager next. You keep asking questions and keeping getting looks of confusion, or simply not much response at all. These are all questions that you assumed were going to be easily answered during your first day of training, but there is only one problem. 

You discover that your new job, doesn't have a system for anything. 

Quickly you realize how much time (and money!) this company is losing by trying to operate this way. Many times, without even realizing it, we try to operate our homes just like that.

We hope for the best. 

We are too busy to change the way that we are doing things.

Maybe too overwhelmed.

And we are comparing our home to our friend's home and their friend's home and...

All the while we are running around for the fourth time that week looking for our keys again, because that is just life, right?

But does it have to be?

We want more time in our day.

We want more money in our bank accounts. 

We want more peace in our homes.

And we want more time to spend with the people we love and...

We want more time to create meaningful relationships with the people around us.

But how do we do that?

The key is having systems that WORK for YOU!

A system is simply a way of doing things.

When you have a system in place that works (functions well in the dynamics of your home) for you (not your best friend!) then it literally WORKS (saves time & energy!) for YOU (yep, that's you!)

You've heard it said before, a place for everything and everything in its place.

But perhaps, like me, you have gotten caught up with the word everything in that phrase. In fact, you've often wondered how could EVERYTHING really have a place? Anyone who has a place for EVERYTHING is probably lying. And, well, you're probably right.

But just like our family's budget uses envelopes to help us be prepared for our basic family's expenses and needs...not everything in our life has an envelope. I remember when I first started using a budget and I needed to buy stamps. I thought, "I don't have a "stamps" envelope." I quickly realized that I didn't need an envelope for everything, I just needed to create a "miscellaneous envelope" for random things like that. By doing that we could still work with a budget and it didn't fall completely apart just because I didn't have envelopes for the 10% of things that I had no clue where to put. (I really like using the free version of this online site for budgeting so that I'm not actually caring around envelopes.)

Since applying this same theory to our stuff in our home, I have discovered the overwhelming JOY and SIMPLICITY of finding a place for 90% of your stuff!

I'm serious, it works!

But Sarah, why then are systems so important?

Having a place for things is a great start!

However, communicating where things go or how things are done to the rest of the people living in your home is key! Because, when you can communicate to them your laundry process, that works best for your family and in your home, then you have a system!

And that system will save you time & energy the more that you repeat it, which will ultimately allow you to do all of the OTHER things that you love!

In a few weeks I'll start taking you through our home room by room. I'm hoping that you'll gain a fresh perspective on some of the systems that we've implemented and why. You also might catch some of the things that aren't in our home and how that makes things function more smoothly for us as well.

Our home isn't a typical "minimalist" home. We have two couches and two crock pots and we even have two coffee pots. We have two of those things because we use them a ton and they function well for our family and lifestyle. But there are also a lot of things that we don't have in our home because they don't fit into our family and lifestyle. We've sorted almost everything in our house and 90% of the things in our home have a designated spot, are functional or bring beauty to our lives, AND have some sort of system to keep them clean or in their place. Which means that I no longer run around an hour before my husband announces that he is bringing people over, frantically cleaning both of the bathrooms! (I shared that hypothetical scenario here, ya know, for a friend.)

Systems are what makes living in a not so tiny house with a whole lot of people so easy

Not harder.

Because let's be honest, the laundry isn't going anywhere. It is always going to be there. But you don't have to dread it for the rest of your life. You just have to find a system that works for your family, implement it, communicate it to everyone, and move on! 

Let's break down those steps next. 

1) Find A System That WORKS For YOUR Family. Just because your best friend has a different system for having her kids pick up their toys, don't switch your system just because you saw hers. (Unless you don't have a system and come across one that you think would work well for your family.) Ultimately there are a ton of different ways to do something. So instead of pouring a lot of time into fine tuning that one system and making it absolutely perfect. Instead create a system that works best for your family, in your home! The goal isn't to have the BEST organized toy system in the whole wide world...the goal is to simply have a place for the toys to go with a system that allows your kids to be involved in the process so that you aren't the only one putting the toys away. (Doesn't that sound heavenly?)

2) Implement it! Creating a system doesn't mean that you have to commit to doing laundry the SAME WAY for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Maybe you currently have an infant at home who doesn't sleep through the night and you've discovered that working on laundry at midnight really is the best use of your time right now. Do it! Maybe your kids are big enough to figure out how to unlock your phone and "accidentally" text grandma (Thanks for showing me how skilled you are little dude!) which makes you wonder if they are now big enough to start helping put their own laundry away.  So you might rethink your system to incorporate your kids. Do it! The question is, in this season what is the simplest way for our family to do this and go with it!

3) Communicate it! Other people in your home are going to need to know where the shoes go or where the extra toilet paper can be found or where the rag is to wipe off the dining room table. The other KEY to living in a home that gives you extra space to fit your crew is the benefit of having extra hands to help take care of it. Just like at work, it is all about the team, and what can be accomplished when you all work together! But just remember that the team can't work as a team if they have no idea where they clock in.

4) Move on! Your system is probably going to be tweaked in the future, it is after all about seasons. It doesn't have to be the BEST system in the whole world. It just has to be one that works in your home and with your crew.

To get you started thinking about helpful systems in your home I want you to think of one task in your home that goes really smoothly. You probably already have a system in place for that task but maybe you have never thought of it that way. You'll know if you have a system in place if you can answer, "This is how we do...fill in the blank" for a specific task or thing in your home.

Next I want you to think of one task in your home that really frustrates you. What simple system could you create to solve those frustrations? Just think of the time and energy you could save yourself for days, weeks, months, YEARS to come!

I'd love to hear what you come up with in the comment section below!

Subscribe for updates and to receive the free PDF "7 Scenarios To Help You Evaluate Your Stuff & Declutter Your Home!"

* indicates required


  1. What a great word picture to make us realize our homes are our jobs. Love this!

  2. I appreciate your blog and am so thankful for this series you're doing. We are a family of eight (4 biological children and in the process of adopting our 2 foster children) preparing to move to a smaller home with less storage. I'll be going through everything as we pack and putting new systems in place once we get to the new home. I'm hoping to find ideas and inspiration as you go through your home room by room. Thank you!!

  3. Yes, systems! Systems turn into habits which help us do things without even thinking about it. Can't wait to read more! Thank you!

  4. I've been thinking about this for a while before commenting:
    ~ A system that works pretty well for me~ My clothes, I've been slowly but surely growing my African wardrobe. And even if a capsule or minimalist wardrobe doesn't look the same with African clothes as Western styles, I still follow the mantra of only having what I wear. I tend to re-organize my clothes often and sort through them. If I don't wear them, I figure out why, does it need to be fixed, do I not like it, does it not fit. If I'm not sure about something I put it away in a tub, and after awhile I can decide if I just need to give it away. But I love not having my closet cluttered up with clothes I don't even wear.
    ~ What doesn't work so well~ My kid's homeschooling has been kinda clunky, but that's mostly because my husband was doing it while I finished French study and now I'm going to be taking it back over. I have some systems I'm planning on implementing once the Grandparents leave and we get back at it.


Thank you for commenting, I read every single one. Because spam is so prevalent I moderate all comments. I also will delete any that are inappropriate or hurtful. All other comments will be approved and published in between me chasing around my five little tornadoes! For any specific questions feel free to email me at aninvitinghome@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and following along!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...