Change Begins at Home: You Can't Reinvent The World If You Can't Find Your Keys

June 1, 2020

Business as usual seems a bit tone deaf when so many people are agitated and focused elsewhere.

And: it’s hard to change the world when you can’t find your keys. Really.

Knowing where your cell phone, wallet and other essentials are as you head out the door is super helpful and sanity-saving—whether you’re running errands or protesting injustice. It’s one less thing to think about and sap your energy.

If how you do anything IS how you do everything, and your bag and your space are a mess, you’re probably going to be less effective in creating the change you want to see in the world.

So, you can dismiss this week’s article as superfluous or irrelevant… but I would argue that, in truth, making space for change, freeing up our energy to focus on what’s most important to us, is essential to constructing the kind of lives we want and the freedom we desire, at home and in the world.  

As we ride out this pandemic, many of us are stuck at home... face-to-face with clutter. 

Where you may have been able to ignore the mess before, now you’re painfully aware of it. 

There’s no escaping it, is there?

 All. That. Stuff. 

Let me ask you this: Does your home currently feel like a sanctuary or a cluttered mess?

If it’s the latter, then that clutter is affecting your mental and physical health, energy levels, and productivity. 

Whether it’s a closet that needs organizing, an office that’s out of whack, a first aid kit that’s expired or a whole home that isn’t functioning, this article will help you reinvent your space fast and for free. 

(We’ll be showing you how to do this in more detail in our next “De-Stress Your Mess 5-Day Challenge.”)


First things first, there are only 3 rules or guiding principles to getting organized—it couldn’t be simpler. 

Rule #1: One Home for Everything

Every item has one, and only one, home. No ifs, ands or buts. People lose a year or more of their lives just looking for things. A lost year sucks. When stuff has a home, no more lost things.

Rule #2: Like with Like

All like objects live together. And we do mean all. (Oh, we’ve organized every type of object imaginable. Yep, even those. But that’s a story for another day.) So, for example, all your tools live together in the toolbox, instead of being squirrelled away throughout the home. 

Rule #3: Something In, Something Out

Once you reach stuff equilibrium—having enough of everything that serves you and nothing that doesn’t—when something comes in, something goes out. This prevents clutter creep.

You can learn more about The Organizational Triangle® here.

If you were to implement these guidelines alone, your space would be transformed. Investment: $0. This just takes some elbow grease and a willingness to change.


Before you can turn your space around to serve YOU rather than you IT, you need to clear the clutter and get things organized. Use the three principles above to help you get started, and get rid of the things you no longer need, want or use. 

Everything in your home should add value to your life, whether it’s that piece of art that inspires you to be a better person every time you look at it, or the blender that you use to make your smoothies every day. 

Because if it’s not adding value to your life, why is it still taking up precious space in your home?

The problem is that the average home is ridiculously cluttered, wherever you live:

  • In the U.S., 25% of people with two-car garages don't have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle! (US Department of Energy)
  • The UK uses 37.6 million sq ft of storage space, or 0.58 sq ft of storage space per person—5x the European average. (House Beautiful)
  • 76% of respondents to a China Youth Daily poll said they kept items they did not need. (China Daily)

And you can’t take it with you … seriously. Tut tried … didn’t work.

Stuff does not define you.

And more stuff doesn’t make you more of a person. (Or stave off death, which I think is the real fear driving so many of our obsessions with stuff. Yeah, I went there.)

All this clutter does is burden you and suck up your energy. Physical clutter is tied to mental clutter and emotional baggage. 

Every item has a story, not all of them happy, so why do we find it so hard to let go of that rug from our ex which makes us miserable and reminds us of our breakup every time we look at it?

(If you have something in your home like this, that makes you twitch every time you look at it, for the love of all that is holy, stop reading and go get rid of it. Now. I’ll be waiting for you when you get back.)

As you sort through your things and let go of what no longer serves you, you will free up energy and reduce stress. Imagine your space is organized and clear even if it’s not yet. You’ll breathe more easily and let out a sigh of relief. And that will keep you going.

Decluttering can be cathartic. 

And lets you feel in control of something you actually CAN control.

And what better time to tackle it then when you’re feeling out of control and every day seems more uncertain? 

Once you clear away what’s unnecessary, your stress goes down and home starts to feel safe. Even if nowhere else does.

In the coming weeks, we’ll look at some tips on how to continue organizing and decorating your home, WITHOUT buying a single thing.

In the meantime, stay safe and resist the urge to buy your way out of however you’re feeling.

In times of stress and unrest, community and family is often what keeps us positive and moving forward. So, keep that in mind and collect experiences and relationships with the people you love. If you’re going to collect anything, collect love! 

Don’t collect things—they’ll never love you the way your friends do

I am all about unstuffing your life—in fact, I wrote a book about it.)

Until next week …


Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!