The Magic of Three


Simon enjoying his new beanie animal

Many times, I have written about the magic number three in my decluttering/minimalism goals. Three items on a surface, three things hanging on a wall … This week the magic of three does it again.

Minimalist Mondays this year are a way for me to try to organize and declutter my house. I want to be sure what I have is only what I love and what I need. Just because I have double the space now, does not mean I need double the stuff.

This week was kind of a wash. I have not been feeling well for most of it. Thursday I was pretty much a vegetable. For minimalist Monday this month, I have four Mondays to address the area in question for January. That area is one of two walk-in closets. Since there is a holiday coming up on January 21, I am hoping to catch up then since I have been under the weather this week.

Where the magic of three fits into all of this is in cleaning. My goal in decluttering is so that I can actually enjoy my life my being able to do things and not be chained to this house having to clean it all the time.

This week I discovered that by putting three CDs into the CD player, I can clean the whole house. #Score

Three CDs of cleaning. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

While the first CD was playing, I worked on cleaning downstairs. By the time the CD was done, I had everything clean downstairs except for mopping the kitchen floor. As the second CD began, I mopped the kitchen floor.

I can’t clean the entire house in one go. It’s just too much for me. Especially since I have not been feeling well this week, I was way too tired to clean the entire house in one swoop.

Once the kitchen floor was mopped and the second CD was spinning merrily along, I took a break. Not only did I take a break, but I cranked the volume and danced around in my socks (and Victoria’s Secret yoga pants, of course #weekend) a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

I’m sure if any of the neighbors bothered to look in any of my windows they were probably laughing hysterically. I mean, I washed all the windows, so they definitely had a clear view.

One of the things I absolutely love love love about the house is that all of my CDs are unpacked and out. They are displayed, organized, and ready to use. Not only that, but I can play them as loud as I want. In the apartment, the maximum stereo volume was 10. In my house, the minimum stereo volume is typically 16.

So for the second CD of this exercise, I took a break from cleaning. If you decide to try this at home, be sure to pick some kick ass tunes for all three discs.

Then, when the third CD came on and I was sufficiently rested, I cleaned upstairs. Just like with the first CD, by the time the third CD ended, I had the entire upstairs clean with the exception of washing the bathroom floor. So then I washed the bathroom floor and the whole house was clean.

It basically took three CDs to clean the house. It was a lot more fun with music.

Now, with both upstairs and downstairs, when the CD ended, I had everything done except mopping. I hate mopping, so I always leave it for last. My personal goal is to get the house minimized enough so that by the time a CD ends, the entire area of the house is clean.

We’ll see how that goes. It may be wishful thinking. Three CDs worth of time to clean an entire 1600 square foot house is pretty good, I’m thinking.

When I am feeling better to get to minimalism Mondays this month, the area for January is one of two walk-in closets. Some of this is organization. For example, the walk-in closet in question has all my camping stuff. However, I have found camping equipment in two other locations in the house. It’s a consequence of moving. Part of minimalist Mondays is going to be recreating my “zones” in the house. Once I get all of the camping equipment together, then I can evaluate it.

For the record, while many people’s walk-in closets are jam packed with clothing, mine are not. I have been doing pretty well with my minimalist wardrobe. My walk-in closets are mainly storage for seasonal and sentimental items. I’ll be going through things like camping, running gear, luggage, Christmas, fans, and the “sentimental” box when I finally hit the closet this month.

I would love to get everything down to one walk-in closet instead of two, but I don’t see that happening. I have too many summer hobbies that require equipment. Yes, I actually do USE all of that equipment.

Maybe when I’m engaging in minimalist Mondays, I will have to invoke the magic of three. If I can use three CDs to clean the entire house, I should be able to use three CDs to declutter and organize and entire closet, right?

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I’ll just be sitting here in my shades grooving to some cool tunes in my clean house.




The rule of three. Bad luck comes in threes. Many religions believe in some divinity form of the number three. Two is company; three is a crowd. A hat trick in hockey is three goals by the same player in one game. Stories are told in terms of three: a beginning, middle, and an end. Races are run in thirds: with your body, your mind, and your heart. A triangle has three sides; a pyramid is one of the more stable structures. In baseball, three strikes and you are out. Three is an arbitrary number, really. I don’t even particularly care for the number three. It is not my favorite number. It is, however, quite significant for a number of reasons.

Since I have begun my slowdown, I have started living my life by the rule of three. It is going pretty well so far. My house is less cluttered, my anxiety levels have decreased, and I am able to accomplish more in a day. This is how the rule of three has affected my life:

  • Less clutter. It is really overwhelming to come home after a long day at work, and to see surfaces covered. Maybe it’s the stand when you first walk in the door that is covered with keys, coins, and umbrellas. Maybe it is your kitchen table full of the kid’s homework, leftover dinner dishes, the day’s mail. I have gradually gone through my house and cleaned off every surface. COMPLETELY. So it is empty. Then, I find the three things I love the most in the pile in front of me and put those three things on the table/shelf whatever. Not only does this make it easier to clean, but also I feel more relaxed now that my surfaces and shelves are less cluttered. What to do with the stuff you have removed? If you don’t love it enough to look at it everyday or to clean it or clean around it, it leaves. Yes, this is hard. Put it in a donation box for a month. If you forget about it in that month, it wasn’t that important, was it?
  • Shorter to-do list. I have a honey-do list. Everyone does. Unfortunately, I have no honey, and I have a lot of do. When I was working 60+ hours a week, I was always running around trying to do something. Even though I love Wonder Woman, and sometimes wear the t-shirt with the big bright W on my chest, I finally realized I can’t do it all. Nor should you. Unless you are going to be naked for the day, sometimes laundry can wait. I have cut down my to-do list from 15-17 things per day to 3 things per day. I now have time for the important things, like my family, and am less stressed when I do spend time with them. Sure, it may have been three days since I’ve mopped, but you need to create those memories with your family that give you a reason to mop.
  • Three weeks, or 21 days, is how long it takes to make a lasting change in your life that is going to stick. You hear three weeks about anything from starting a new exercise routine to a new sleep schedule, or basically anything you want to become a habitual form of your behavior. All change is hard, but if it sticks for three weeks, it is probably permanent. I have used this to accomplish goals, such as spending more time at the parks and beaches relaxing. Chose your goal, write it down, and circle a date on the calendar 3 weeks from now. If you do not meet your goal, that does not mean that you failed. Look for progress. My goal for these three weeks was to go to a different beach each week. Did I make it to three beaches? No, I only made it to two. While I may not have met my goal of three, the fact that I made it to two is progress towards my goal of spending more time outside. I am changing my behavior gradually and marking progress.

Can you do it? Can you shorten your to-do list to three things per day? What will really be missed if you do? Focus on the important things and not the minutia so that you can enjoy the moments of your life.

Can you downsize your surfaces so that they only contain three items? Start with one area – one shelf or table. Can you keep that one shelf from becoming cluttered with more than three things on it for three weeks? If so, that’s progress. Choose another surface and do it again.

Three is not my favorite number. Eight is actually my favorite number. It’s all part of slowing down. I’m going from eight to three and freeing myself for what is important in life – family, friends, and experiences.