A friend of mine bought me the “The Happiness Project One Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record” for Christmas last year and it was the first time I had heard about  Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project“. I recently downloaded it to my Kindle after learning Ms. Rubin is going to be in Austin for the Texas Conference for Women. I wanted to make sure I read it before hearing her speak at the conference. I’ve been inspired.

Happiness. In the book, Ms. Rubin actually walks you through her personal journey on how she decided to go about being a happier person. She wasn’t miserable when she started the project. She just didn’t feel happy. I’ve been there in the past and sometimes that same feeling creeps up on me but lately I’ve been pretty happy and I didn’t think her book applied to me at this point in my life.

Was I wrong. After reading just the first few chapters, I took her actions to heart. I didn’t waste time by creating my own goals and commandments, I just started doing what she did. I could analyze what’s really important to me from now until next year, but using her suggestions just seem quicker, easier, and required less thought on my part.

First step was to un-clutter my life. We live in a pretty small house so I have always thought that we don’t accumulate much because we can’t. But, I knew there were things I could work on. Baby steps. I decided to tackle the kitchen and get rid of the three extra wine tools, two extra cheese cutters, a third set of silverware and multiple unused platters. That was just the start. I worked to reorganize and put things where they make sense. In doing so, I was in the pantry, which is an odd area under the stairs where things just got tossed. My husband saw what I was doing and decided to help me by going out and buying more shelves, moving the shelves we have to a useful location and making the pantry a useable space.

The to go pile. This is just a fraction of what’s leaving our house.

I wish we had a before photo. I’ve been walking in here and pinching myself.

Since we opened up space in the pantry and in the kitchen, I started to work on the office. I now had other places to put the extra lightbulbs, the electronics and the box of batteries. My office is often the dumping ground. We call it the “staging area” because any time we have a party, clean the house, get ready for a new item in the house, get tired of the papers on the dining room table, we throw our stuff in the “staging area.” I hadn’t even been working from my office because it was draining just to walk into it. I still have work to do, but compared to what it looked (and felt) like before, the office is a tremendous improvement.

The office. I can see the floor, and it looks 10 times bigger.

There are other things I’ve done. I instituted my very own “No Screen Saturday.” I stayed away from the computer and my iPhone all day Saturday. It felt so good that I kept going and “No Screen Sunday” occurred organically, without any thought on my part to stay away.

I still have a lot to tackle. I’m determined to get both my business and personal finances in better order, get our wills straightened out and keep working on my paperwork issues. I need to clean my daughter’s room and go through my closet and the attic. But I’ve seen what I can do in just a one weekend, which, by the way, was also busy with a birthday party, painting with my daughter, going to a show at the Paramount Theater, and generally enjoying the days. It was not a whirlwind of organizing. The de-cluttering came in waves and increments.

And now, it’s Monday. For some odd reason, I didn’t schedule myself into any meetings, phone conversations or long email discussions. I’ve stayed off Facebook and Twitter and out of my email. I inadvertently instituted another new rule for my work life. Monday is going to be meeting free. It’s liberating.

All of this de-cluttering, physically, mentally, has worked so far. Do I feel lighter? Absolutely. Has Gretchen Rubin’s book been working for me? I’m going to say yes. You see, this blog post, the one I’ve been meaning to write for the last few months, is happening. I’m in my office. Writing. A blog post. I’m inspired.

And I’m pretty damn happy.

Join me in the future on Twitter for #meetingfreemonday. I’d like to know how you are celebrating your meeting free Mondays.