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We're Ben and Kelly Zugay, and we're on a mission to live small and give big!  Since 2015, we've been on a renovating and decorating our well-loved 800 square foot condo — our home on Harvest!

When we're not biking, hiking, kayaking, and enjoying beautiful western Wisconsin, Ben is a a university-level entrepreneurship educator and I'm a small business owner.




Welcome! We're Ben and Kelly!

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Lifestyle

Our Home on HarvestA few weeks ago, I decided to give up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for few weeks. After turning 30 in December, I really wanted to challenge myself to do what I love as often as possible. Time away from social media has given me an opportunity to explore what I do love — being present, spending quality time with Ben, reading, blogging, decorating…

Ben recently surprised me with an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, and the first book I bought, based on Amazon’s recommendations (Thanks, Amazon!) was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In just a couple of days, I read the book, shared my favorite tips from the book with Ben, and we got to work.

(I should mention: I really believed we were as organized as we could be, prior to reading this book. I’m notorious for discarding and donating regularly — so I assumed this book would solidify what I already knew and practiced. I was so wrong!)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I want to share a few of my personal takeaways from the book — and how we applied these takeaways in our home!

  • We have more than we need. Though Marie doesn’t explicitly say so, I believe we all have much more than we need. As we go through life and our living spaces become bigger and bigger (Typically!) it’s easy to think, “We’ll never use all the space we have.” Eventually, though, the space always seems to be filled. For the first time, I became really grateful to live in a small condo — where space is limited, and we can’t majorly over-consume. After reading this book, it was really important for me to discard more than ever before, and to ensure everything we own has a purpose and “sparks joy.” (A common theme from the book!)
  • Organization isn’t the key. I assumed Marie’s book would be about organizing everything we do have. I prepared myself to run to Target and pick up more bins, more shelves, and more tools to help us organize everything we own in a more methodical way. Little did I know, this book is actually more about discarding, discarding, and discarding. Marie says that every single thing you own should have a purpose or “spark joy.” So, all those clothes I believed I’d eventually wear, or all the books I believed I’d eventually read, or all the beauty products I’d convinced myself I needed but never used — they were all donated or discarded. In the end, we didn’t need to buy any organizational tools at all; even crazier, our big bookshelf doesn’t have any books on it anymore.
  • It really is life-changing. After a full weekend of cleaning, discarding, and donating — we delivered 4 car-loads to Goodwill. We discarded 8-10 bags of garbage, or what we determined to be garbage. We created a designated place for everything we own — everything from our clothes and books down to the spices we use for cooking. Everything — and I mean everything — now has a “home” in our home. There is something so, so freeing and so satisfying about not being consumed by your consumption. It really is life-changing! We know exactly what we own, and everything has a purpose or sparks joy.

So, how did we transform our condo? Here are the steps we took:

  1. We set aside a solid amount of time. Marie insists that this overhaul should be done in one fell swoop, so we spent the entire weekend overhauling our home from start to finish. Having a weekend dedicated to this one goal or mission was really helpful, because we got to experience the planning, the execution, and the excitement of reaching the finish line!
  2. We began by discarding. This was honestly my favorite part of the process — because I just knew we were holding onto belongings that didn’t need to be held onto. More than your typical, everyday garbage, we were holding onto documents, resources from undergrad and grad school, and more. It was so refreshing to just say goodbye to everything we no longer needed.
  3. Then, we donated. This was another favorite part of the process, because I just love knowing that someone else will get more use and more joy out of something that wasn’t being used or loved. I am not proud to say, I donated close to 15 bags or purses. (Those who know me know that I rarely even carry a purse!) So, having 15 bags or purses was kind of silly! (Sidenote: We found $11 in change among all of my purses, so we celebrated by going to Noodles & Company! Their tofu is my favorite!)
  4. Finally, we cleaned. It was so exciting to clean after everything was discarded or donated, because everything felt so, so spacious. The air felt fresher, the floor seemed so spacious… it was just amazing!

The week after our big weekend overhaul, I decided to get really honest with myself… because deep down, I felt like I was still holding onto too much. (Isn’t that so interesting? Before reading the book, and even after our overhaul weekend, I would’ve sworn I had pared everything down as best I could.)

I packed up one more bag of clothing for donating, and I challenged myself to put together a capsule wardrobe. (I think a capsule wardrobe is a bit easier for me to do nowadays, since I work from home and only really need casual clothing and yoga apparel.) Now, I have only the clothes I absolutely love, the clothes that fit me well, the clothes I feel comfortable in… and what a difference it makes when I open up my closet and decide what to wear! I was definitely holding onto a lot of “I’ll wear this when…” pieces, and it was such a relief to let them go, too! Less is more.

In the end, I would definitely recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It really is a life-changing book that has helped to transform how we look at consumption and how approach organization. Best of all, it has transformed our condo from top to bottom, and has shown us how to create a joyful, purposeful household.

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Lifestyle

Feb 25

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