Every January 1st, we all resolve to rid ourselves of bad habits and step forth into the New Year with good intentions and high aims. Of course many of these changes quickly fall by the wayside but here are six ideas for the home that will hopefully have a positive impact on your life and consequently we think you’ll stick to.
Leo Babauta, author of the fantastically minimalist Zen Habits blog, thinks that people make too many New Years resolutions making them difficult to stick to. His suggestion is that people choose just six things to change and work on each idea in turn. Leo also says that by making your progress public, you’re more likely to stick to your resolutions. If you spend 8 weeks on each of our tips, you could help change the atmosphere of your home for the better.
January/February: Learn to buy less
Start with the January sales. Every time you buy a new piece of furniture stop and think “Do I really need this?”. Maybe you can re-purpose an old item, find something second hand or ask a friend if they’re chucking out something similar. Not only will this save you money, but also you’ll begin to appreciate the things that you already own more. If you must buy something, save up and go for a higher quality item, it should last longer and you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction every time you look at it.
March/April: Get organised
Spring is the perfect time for a clear out. Either go through one room a week or take the Easter holidays to get rid of anything you no longer use or need. It’s great to do this regularly every year but if you’re a hoarder, make 2011 the year you throw out that clutter. Anything you don’t need can be donated to a local charity shop, recycled or given away to a friend. Maybe you can even arrange to trade items for something more useful.
Hoarding can be unhealthy (just look at the bizarre items in The Guinness Book of Records) one man has even spent years collecting his own belly-button fluff. Eek! Getting your cupboards and drawers looking shipshape will free up space and give you the glow of a great shopping trip when you find things that you’ve probably forgotten you had.
May/June: Finish a project
Think of all those household projects that never got finished. I bet there are dozens. It could be baby-proofing the living room, fixing the shower or repainting the spare bedroom. Once you’ve made a nice long list of those projects, choose the room that most needs work and aim to get it done in your eight weeks. Break your project into bite-sized chunks and work on one section at a time (it makes it feel more manageable). The warm weather at this time of year should allow any paint or filler to dry easily.
July/August: Bring nature inside
At this time of year everyone with more than a handkerchief-sized piece of grass is taking advantage of the sunshine. Loads of us love to get our hands dirty and plant flowers and veg in the garden. Greenery makes us happy, but why keep it outside? While the garden centres are well stocked buy some plants for your home. If you’re not green-fingered, grab a succulent or cactus (well not literally) and put it somewhere you’ll see it regularly.
Plants have been proven to boost productivity, A Washington State University study even said that interior plants led to a 12% quicker reaction time on a set computer task. They also help clear the air and are far easier to care for than pets.
September/October: Clean up your act
Over the summer, we all tend to neglect the house while we spend our time outside or on holiday. So spend the autumn getting to grips with a cleaning routine. Design a timetable for everyone at home at the start of the school year. This gives you chance to get the kids used to the new schedule. Rotate the tasks to make it more fun. If there’s something you don’t enjoy doing find a new way of doing it that’s easier or requires less effort. Of course, once you’re into a routine it’s much easier to stay on top of the mess.
November/December: Invite more friends round
“The gift of your time spent with others is the ultimate display of unconditional love”- Robert Merriweather
I know you’re busy this time of year but what use is a fabulous home without someone to share it with. Make an effort over these colder months to shelter a friend or family member for an evening. You don’t need to go over the top but try and invite someone different over once a week to share some quality time. Entertaining keeps our spirits up and gives us a reason to keep the place tidy and clean. Why not resolve to host a Christmas party or meal with your nearest and dearest. What a lovely way to show someone that you care.