New Year’s Resolutions – Part II

What’s YOUR most Valuable Real Estate?

December 27, 2022

Once Christmas is over, it is nearly impossible to escape the end of the year evaluations and lists of everything which went right – and wrong – during the previous year. It is that moment to step back, look in the proverbial mirror, and decide which ‘resolutions’ to embrace for the next year.

Five years ago I wrote about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions and how they came into existence. That Tuesday Newsday link is here.

Although the Infallible Wikipedia does not have a page on the most popular resolutions, I did find a list at From the article:

“Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change. The recurring themes each year include a more active approach to health and fitness, improved finances, and learning new things for personal and professional development. Chances are, more than a couple of the top 10 most common resolutions will look familiar to you:

We purchased this extra ‘real estate’ as the kitchen didn’t have quite enough. This is used every single day and is the favorite spot for food prep.

1.     Exercise more

2.     Lose weight

3.     Get organized

4.     Learn a new skill or hobby 

5.     Live life to the fullest

6.     Save more money / spend less money

7.     Quit smoking

8.     Spend more time with family and friends

9.     Travel more

10.  Read more”

For me, it’s almost always #3 which makes it to my list each year. People who know me often say to me “Get organized? But you’re already organized.”

The truth, however, is that it takes effort and constant monitoring to get and stay organized. I was an incredibly messy and disorganized child. But over the years, I have developed some strategies which I follow that help me stay on track.

The biggest thing I do is jealousy guard the Valuable Real Estate (VRE) in my home.

No doubt this phrase is causing more than a few of my readers to scratch their heads and ask “what the heck is she talking about with ‘valuable real estate’?”

I coined the term a few years ago to describe any surface or space which was needed on a daily basis to be used, particularly, by all the members of the household.

In our house, there are several spots which spring to mind.

First, and foremost, are the kitchen counters. I jealously guard the counter space. Now, while there are some decorative items and countertop appliances on them, for the most part, the things which are out include the knife block, the dish drainer, the coffee maker, two ceramic holders with either spatulas or whisks, salt and pepper grinders, a butter dish, a food scale, and an electric tea kettle. While it may sound like a lot, for the most part these things sit at the back of the counter, leaving plenty of space for food preparation.

But, back to figuring out what is, or is not, VRE.

The first thing I ask is:

Is the item used daily?

The corner of the kitchen where small appliances and a few decorative items ‘live.’ This is not the most VRE in the kitchen but I still don’t allow it to become overly cluttered.

The things which meet that criterion remain. Everything else is subject to the next question:

Can the item be easily moved and stored and is there a place other than where it currently is where it can go?

There are some kitchen appliances – like the mixer and the blender – which are too tall/large to be stored in a cupboard, so they live at the back of the counter. Fortunately, we have enough counter space that we can afford to have them where they are.

Of course there are things we have in our homes which we just like. That’s the third question: Does it have sentimental value or bring pleasure?

I do not underestimate the need for a vibrant plant to brighten a winter’s day; or a couple sets of favorite salt and pepper shakers given to me by a friend. We all need things which bring a smile to our face.

And the final question: Do I even NEED the item?

There are things which ultimately don’t even belong in the kitchen or the house as they’ve outlived their usefulness. Unless it has a sentimental value based on question #3, it’s probably time to get rid of it.

These four questions can be applied to any spot in your house. Is your dining room or kitchen table covered with mail and other junk? What about the bathroom counters? Can you park a car in the garage? Do you have a decent work area on your desk?

Let’s apply the VRE model to the dining room table. If yours is covered with stuff which prevents you from using it for eating a meal or other activities, then perhaps it is time to designate it as VRE and send in the excavation crew. The hubby and I both embraced this particular space as VRE early on in our marriage. We simply did not allow things to stay on the table.

I change the table clothes and salt and pepper shakers frequently. Nothing is ever allowed to build up on the table.

For me personally, I enjoy sitting at the table and having a meal with family and friends. Currently there is a small Christmas tree, four sets of salt and pepper shakers, and a holiday table cloth. For the sake of efficiency we will evaluate all items together:

Is the item used daily? The salt and pepper shakers, maybe. The cloth protects the table, so yes. The tree? Just arrived there yesterday as a decoration for Christmas dinner. So, no, it’s not used daily.

Can the item be easily moved and stored and is there a place other than where it currently is where it can go?

Yes. All the items have places in the house where they are stored when not in use.

Does it have sentimental value or bring pleasure?

Yes. Everything on the table brings me pleasure to look at.

Do I even NEED the item(s)?

Nope. But #3 is the deciding answer.

I do not diminish the challenges of daily life. Keeping up with dishes, mail, paperwork, laundry, etc. etc. etc., is not always easy and certainly, not fun.

The other piece of this equation is commitment. I usually clean the kitchen each night before I go to bed. Some days, like on Christmas when we had people over, the cleaning and putting away was not finished that night. But it was all completed in less than 24 hours.

That’s the commitment. Years ago I promised myself – for my own sanity – to make sure that those spots of VRE remained clutter free.

My resolutions for 2023 are pretty much the same as they are every year: spend a bit of time and evaluate how I want to use life’s most valuable commodity: time. And one of the best ways to do that is to make sure that the VRE in my life never gets out of control.

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