Take a good hard look around. Right now would be a good time. Because the spaces where we spend our time — where we live and work — and how they function or don’t function, impact our health and stress-level in a very large way! Yes, if you are a regular reader, you have heard me pound this drum before at THM — your surroundings affect your energy and stress-levels, productivity and even how you feel about yourself! And, I have listed important steps to take to organize and design your surroundings to ensure your home and work spaces reflect your values and goals, who you truly are and how you actually live your life. (Please do check out here and here and here for the specific how-tos!)
But, today, I have a big treat for you: advice from a genuine pro on the topic – an interior designer from across the pond (if you reside in the US that is). Meet Jack Stevens from London who is lending us a big British hand today offering loads of tips to help you get in the mindset to create a space to energize you and help you reach your goals and even lower your stress to improve your health.
With a new year that has just arrived, it couldn’t be a better time to reflect and create a new path. Perhaps a bit of clearing out and starting a fresh and new to your surroundings may be in order to help you make those new year’s resolutions a reality. So, let’s open our minds to what Jack has to say about it all and help us get to where we want to go! I promise you, you will find his words very inspiring, the points he makes so clarifying and his perspective on the topic spot on!
Q &A: LONDON INTERIOR DESIGNER, JACK STEVENS
ORGANIZING OUR LIVING SPACES TO BOOST OUR HEALTH
Here is my conversation with Jack on how and why organizing our home and work spaces can do so much for our health and outlook and why it is so worthy of our attention:
1. You are an interior designer with the company OKA creating beautiful and functional spaces. Jack, tell us a bit about who you are as a designer and what you do.
For us, luxury is the order of the day. At OKA, we focus on sourcing the finest materials and working with the most talented craftspeople, combining global skills to create pieces that showcase the very best of authentic British style and design.
2. How do you feel the design and organization of our spaces affects our health? How can it influence our health and state-of-mind in a positive or even a negative way?
Much has been written about the relationship between a person’s well-being and their home, attributing all manner of ideas to it. It’s actually incredibly simple: a healthy home is one that is bright and bespoke to you, designed for comfort and simplicity. Decluttering is a fundamental part of achieving this. This OKA infographic shows how clutter can clog our homes and workplaces, impacting how we see ourselves and how others see us. It’s not just aesthetics, it’s an important part of looking after yourself.
3. What a great point and a clever way of stating that! That infographic is really helpful, too! I so agree that our spaces do impact us in so many great ways and fixing the issues we have in them is part of taking care of ourselves! But, it can be so overwhelming getting our spaces well-organized and decluttered! Do you have a favorite method to start the process and lessen the pain for those that abhor it?
A very simple way to get started is the four-box method. Label four boxes with:
- throw away
Room-by-room, divide up your odds and ends, then decide what can be stored more effectively in the room, what would be better kept in the shed or the attic, what could be sold or donated and what is destined for the bin. It’s a delightfully simple method, but an incredibly effective structure for starting the decluttering process.
4. Those labeled boxes really streamline the process and that is the method I use as well to declutter and clear out my space. Taking it a step further. What are your favorite top five tips for getting our home and/or work spaces organized and working efficiently?
1. If you’re a big reader, books and magazines can quickly pile up. Keep them tidy and organized from the moment you bring them into the home. Don’t allow them to become a permanent feature on coffee tables and sofas.
2. Studies have proven that a tidy workspace makes for more organized thinking, so think hard about how you work. Do you need all of these paper copies? Stationery is useful, but do you have too much? There are technical solutions too – most businesses use Google Docs and cloud storage systems to work these days. If you’re working from home, keep up to speed with these innovations – they can have a transformative impact on both your workspace and your productivity.
3. Make sure everyone in the home is involved with simplifying your spaces. Make decisions together and get people to take responsibility for their belongings.
4. If you can, do it daily. Whether at the start or end of your day – whatever feels natural – review your key spaces for five minutes. It’s an amazing way to de-stress.
5. Avoid focusing solely on the appearance of rooms. Consider your wardrobe – do you need this many clothes? Refining your wardrobe offers you the chance to reduce clutter and reform your style.
|Jack Stevens, OKA Interior Designer|
5. Great ideas there, Jack! Many of them could be even life-changing! How about any special tools you suggest we have on hand to make the process go smoother and be more successful?
It’s always very tempting to look for the latest app or a neat organizational shortcut to help declutter your home, but the most effective tool for simplifying your spaces is to involve your housemates, partner or family in the process. Getting the whole team on- board guarantees that decisions are collective, making it more likely that your new state of simplicity will last.
6. Absolutely true! Must get the buy-in from those you live with to be most effective. So, what about after all the tossing, sorting and reorganizing is complete? And, everyone agrees with the process and decisions. Do you have any “must-do’s” to keeping our space organized/decluttered? For example, is there something you’d advise we do daily, monthly or yearly to keep our places clutter-free?
Finding an ongoing declutter structure that works for you is important. It could be that on the first day of the month, you take a step back and consider the busiest spaces in your home. What changes would make these spaces easier to enjoy? To avoid decluttering becoming a chore, think of it more as curation, an act of design or chance to be creative. You’re improving and styling your home for the better, and there’s fresh potential to be realized in every home.
7. Can you share a story of how a decluttered or reorganized space changed someone’s life and his or her health for the better?
I love how this blog post demonstrates that doing a little bit of tidying here and there can gradually transform a family home – both aesthetically and psychologically. Clutter is commonly associated with stress, living in the shadow of all of the things you need to get done. It’s absolutely spot-on when describing the feeling of stepping out of that shadow; going clutter-free is a peaceful alternative that can improve your focus and help you to appreciate what you have.
8. Where is a good place to go for more information on how to get and stay organized and decluttered? (Websites, books, social media channels?)
This Guardian article is excellent for summarizing contemporary attitudes to domestic simplicity, including the latest books and a step-by-step guide to embracing minimalism. Pinterest is a fantastic site to explore for design and decoration inspiration across many schools of design. It’s particularly good for discovering inspired storage solutions and streamlined living spaces to get the imagination firing.
9. Please share one or two of your other favorite health practices that you incorporate into your life – besides keeping your space beautiful and functional and perfectly organized and clutter-free, of course!
I always aim to go for a run, first thing in the morning. I live in South London, and there are some great parks and green spaces that are so peaceful early in the day. I find it gives me space to think and plan for the day ahead.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell The Health-Minded readers?
Clearing out the clutter could be the most transformative thing you do for your home (and yourself) this year, so don’t put it off any longer – start today!
SHOP 5 TYPES OF STYLISH STORAGE BINS
Well, I’m inspired to get my space organized and working well for 2016! How about you all? Don’t miss my other posts on getting your space in top shape to live the healthy life you want. Here are a few to tap into:
- Organizing your medical records easily
- Steps to declutter your space and keep it that way
- Ensuring your home is a true reflection of you and just how to go about designing it
- Keeping the air in your home clean and toxin-free
- Designing a kitchen for healthy eating
Thank you so much, Jack for your wise words beautifully stated and taking the time to ignite some meaningful action for the THM readers to take to create their healthy spaces! I’d love to hear how the readers plan to do so! Please share in the comments your reaction to Jack’s ideas and thoughts.