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Angela Hoxsey, House in Order: Editor’s choice
House in Order

Angela Hoxsey, House in Order: Editor’s choice

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One of the opportunities of the shelter in place has been to rethink how we use two of our finite, and often wasted, assets: time and space.

As we move back towards normalcy, folding more activities into our day and start shopping again, it’s a time like no other to choose whether or not something makes the cut and is allowed into your precious schedule or beautifully organized shelter. You have the power to edit your life.

Before I became an organizer, I was an editor at a wine magazine. Knowing what to cut and how to categorize are essential skills in both jobs. Sometimes the decisions are tough. Even if you love a romantic, flowery peasant blouse, it just may not fit your body or your lifestyle, just like a romantic, flowery bit of prose, though beautiful, may not suit the subject of an article and has to be cut.

Check in with your gut. When you’re confronted with a decision to restart an old activity that is possibly not mandatory, close your eyes and feel your feelings about it. Does it make you tense or anxious to think about doing it? Elective doctor’s appointments are an activity you might edit out, botox for example. Personally, I’ve reduced getting my teeth cleaned to once a year, and I haven’t gotten X-rays for ages. Since I’ve never had a cavity, I floss daily, I don’t eat sweets and—importantly—don’t have dental insurance, I decided that was a prime anxiety-producing activity and expense to edit from my life. (Each of our health histories are as unique as fingerprints, so talk to your physician or dentist before deciding to make your cuts.)

Another example of an activity that could cause anxiety and might not be mandatory to add back into your life is a long commute. If you’ve been lucky enough to work at home during the shelter in place and have relished not getting into your car each day for a long commute, is there a way you could negotiate continuing to work at home at least a day or more per week?

Most of the people I’ve talked to have enjoyed spending far, far less time in their cars (and Mother Earth has been enjoying it too). Our home real estate has become even more valuable as a place to earn money, and people have gotten very creative about it. I believe the trend to work at home will be huge and permanent, and having a well-edited home will be more important than ever.

That leads us to shopping. As physical retail sites open up, we have the opportunity to consider our purchases thoughtfully. Post 9/11, we were encouraged to shop up a storm and, of course, we do want to support our suffering local merchants as much as possible, but not to the detriment of our own tighter budgets and need for serenity at home, where we are spending so much more time.

The massive amount of stuff that went to into the landfill as people organized during the pandemic and the unbelievable amount of stuff awaiting the reopening of donation centers is testament to the fact that we Americans have shopped ourselves silly. Don’t let all that decluttering go to waste by refilling all the empty spaces you’ve created. New possessions need to earn the right to take residence in your beloved shelter.

There’s such a feeling of peace and control that comes from making conscious decisions as to how you spend your time and what is allowed in your space. Not every activity or thing can be cut, negotiated or otherwise compromised, but take advantage of considering those that can. Even if you change nothing, the serenity of knowing there was a thoughtful process taken is wonderful.

Angela Hoxsey is offering coaching and consultation on your organizing projects via phone, e-mail and FaceTime. E-mail her at for more information.

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