Create a relaxing, clutter free home
by Sue Kay
When you walk around your home do you feel relaxed, in control
and surrounded by things you love and that reflect your life today?
If not, then probably your home is being taken over by clutter.
As a clutter consultant, I work with clients to banish clutter
and reorganize their homes. I believe that letting go of clutter can
make your life flow so much more freely so you have more time to
So what is clutter?
Clutter is things you no longer use or love. It’s things that
remind you of a difficult time in your life. It’s things you liked
ten years ago but your tastes have changed. It’s those gold shoes
that you wore once and can’t bear to part with because they cost
£100. It’s broken TVs. It’s piles of unopened junk mail and old
newspapers. It’s hundreds of plastic yoghurt pots that might come in
useful one day. It’s pots of dried up paint or nail varnish. All
these things are clutter.
So how do you deal with clutter?
First don’t panic. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to walk away
and have a coffee. Here’s some tips to help you on your way.
1: Start today
Procrastination is the major obstacle to decluttering. So
2: Choose a small area to start.
Say you decide to sort out your sock drawer. Set a timer for
15 minutes. Put on some upbeat music and you’re ready to go.
Then completely empty it and give it a quick clean. As you pick
up each item ask yourself why am I keeping this?
Are you keeping old holey socks you no longer wear because
they used to be your favourites? Either decide to mend them or
let them go. Odd socks are peculiar, I’ve had clients with
dozens of these. Set aside a further 15 minutes and scour the
laundry basket, the washing machine, dryer, wherever. If your
can’t find the matching sock then let it go. Old textiles can be
recycled, check with your council.
3: Keep up the momentum
Well done. You've made a great start. If you feel energised
then keep going. But always work on one area at a time and
finish it before you start somewhere else.
Decide to do a set amount a day such as 30 minutes. Remember
one person’s clutter is another person’s treasure so get the
rest of your family involved in sorting out their stuff.
4: Letting go of old stuff
Once you have decided to let things go, it’s crucial to get
them out of the house as soon as possible. Unwanted items can be
given to charity, friends or family or recycled. Or you could
sell them at a car boot sale or second hand clothes shop or
advertise in your local newspaper.
5: How does it feel?
As you put things in the bin or charity shop bag, you may
feel great and feel a huge sense of relief. Or you may feel
guilty that you are wasting money by throwing things away. You
may also feel guilty that you are letting go of unwanted
presents or baby clothes. I know many people feel it is wrong to
ever discard a photo, even if it is blurred or brings back
People are often scared that the minute they part with
something they will need it and consequently hold onto copious
junk. I call this the “ghost feeling”, it takes a while to get
used to a newly decluttered home.
All these feelings are a completely normal part of the
decluttering process. They often stem from what you were taught
in your family. Many of my clients come from families where
hoarding is a common problem.
6: So how do you cope with these feelings?
i. Sentimental items Be sentimental but selective. Choose
a beautiful box in which to keep sentimental items. Keep a
few cherished baby clothes and give the rest to someone who
will use them. Put photos into albums only keeping the best
ones and let the others go.
ii. Broken things Give yourself a deadline for broken
items to be fixed, if not discard them.
iii. Presents – if someone gives you an unwanted gift and
there is no polite way to refuse, accept gracefully and
respect the other person’s feelings. But remember it is your
home and if you do not like something, it will drag your
spirits down every time you look at it. So dump the guilt
and let it go.
iv. Paper Be ruthless with paper. Put junk mail straight
in the recycling and decide how long you will keep
newspapers For example in Barnet we have kerbside recycling
so every Thursday I go though my house and gather up any
newspapers read or unread. Remember no-one has time to read
v. Fear The “what if” thoughts are some of the hardest to
deal with. I call these clutter thoughts. I recently bought
a new light weight Hoover. Then the thought crept into my
head, what if the new one breaks down. Perhaps I will keep
the old one. But I overcame my wobble and gave away the old
one. A useful tip is “one in, one out”.
If you really feel panicky about letting go of something
then store it for 6 months in the loft or shed. Put the date
on it. If you haven’t used it in 6 months then give it away.
Once you have decluttered and decided what to keep, then it’s
time to look at storage. To maintain a clutter free home it is
essential that everything has a home, so it’s easy to find. So
store like with like, such as all vases together. We use 20% of
our possessions 80% of the time so put this 20% in the most
accessible places. Treat yourself to storage items such as a
filing cabinet, a shoe rack or a pretty box in which to keep
8: The benefits
There are so many benefits to decluttering and letting go of
old stuff. A more relaxing home where you can find things when
you want them. Enjoy the lighter feeling you get when you look
around. Next time you indulge in a little retail therapy you’ll
have a much clearer idea of what you own and what you actually
If you need more support then there are web sites available
and professional people prepared give individual decluttering
advice. There is, in fact, an Association of Professional
Declutterers and Organisers (UK). (apdo-uk)
There are also many excellent books and e-books on the market
covering all aspects of decluttering and organising which will
help you get more organised.
e.g. "No more clutter – how to clear your space and free your life” by Sue Kay is
published by Hodder Mobius.
No More Clutter is the ultimate guide to liberating
ourselves from the tyranny of clutter. It has simple practical
solutions to immediate problems as well as advice on tackling the
challenge of staying clutter-free in the long term, by getting to
grips with the psychology of hoarding and the ethical basis for
simplifying our lives. With case studies which pinpoint common
clutter triggers such as moving house or divorce and practical tips
on everything from tidying the cutlery drawer to creating your ideal
harmonious home, No More Clutter is the essential tool for
streamlining your life.
Being organised will save you time and stress.
How to declutter and
organise a Home Office
A little organisation does you
good - quick and easy ways to get
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