Clear the clutter
No nonsense tips for organising your home in 2019
Professional de-clutterer and organiser, Cath Hindle, shares her tips for living a more orderly life.
If I’d been given £1 each time somebody told me last year that they couldn’t get rid of something because their mother in law / friend / next door neighbour (you get the idea!) had given it to them, I could’ve spent Christmas in the Maldives. Gift giving and receiving is one of the key reasons we allow clutter into our homes and one of the key things to tackle if you’d like a calm and ordered living space in 2019.
In my job I hear many excuses for not getting rid of things, but guilt about disposing of gifts that you neither like nor need is a biggy. In order to help clients get over this hurdle, I remind them of two quotes that have proved invaluable to me in my own quest for a simplified, clutter free life:
‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ William Morris
‘To live is to give.’ Anon
The point here is that once someone has had the pleasure of giving you a gift, it’s up to you what you do with it. Following William Morris’ advice – if you don’t love it or use it, then chuck it!
Of course, there are lots of sustainable ways to ‘chuck’ stuff whether you recycle, give to charity, pass on to a friend or actually use the dustbin. However you declutter, here are five tips to ensure that your home stays beautiful and clutter free in 2019.
1. Start small
Don’t overwhelm yourself with a huge project to start with. I often ease clients into decluttering by starting off with that drawer in the kitchen – you know, the one with flyers, sellotape, a few elastic bands, the odd screwdriver, an old fuse, phone charger and perhaps some cutlery. By starting off with a small space or area, you quickly get to see and feel the satisfaction of clearing and organising.
2. Don’t buy storage boxes
It’s more clutter! I often turn up at a new client’s home who tells me that they have tried to declutter and get organised. Their evidence of this? They’ve bought storage boxes! Interestingly, I’ve not come across somebody yet who, once they’ve decluttered, doesn’t already have enough space and places to store things. Existing baskets, shoe boxes, clear cupboards and drawers generally mean that the storage space is there – you just need to use it effectively.
3. Yes, No, Maybe
There are lots of strategies on how to successfully declutter. Mine subscribes to the KISS theory (keep it super simple). Sort whichever space you are organising into three – ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ piles. When finished, re-sort your ‘yes’ pile into two – stuff that’s going back into the space you’ve cleared and stuff to be put back elsewhere.
Next sort your ‘no’ pile into four – things to sell, recycle, re-home or throw away (see point 5). Then turn your attention to your ‘maybe’ pile and try to reduce it further by adding to your sorted ‘no’ stuff. Whatever is leftover, apply the questions in point 4 to it again to decide what you actually need to keep.
4. Identifying the clutter
As well as the gift guilt detailed above, the following highlights some of the things you should let go of now:
- Items you ‘should’ use but don’t (exercise bikes).
- Things that cost a lot but you still don’t use (often clothes).
- Anything broken or inoperable that you are planning on fixing but haven’t (lamps).
- Heirlooms – see gift guilt (always pictures).
- Anything uncomfortable (see expensive clothes point).
- Duplicates – just in case.
- Magazines you’ll never get round to reading.
- Old electronics especially cables.
- Out of date paperwork.
- And…just because its January, Christmas decorations that you didn’t put up this year.
5. Remove it from your home
The biggest mistake people make when embarking on decluttering is to think that once they’ve sorted their stuff, the job is done. Putting stuff in bin bags and leaving it in the corner is not decluttering, it’s merely moving stuff about. As mentioned in point 3, decide what you want to do with your unwanted things and act. Don’t make grand plans to put stuff on Ebay if you haven’t got the time or inclination and don’t have an account (FYI I find Gumtree and Facebook Market Place far easier to use with a higher success rate).
Make sure you take stuff to the charity shop and don’t just leave it in the boot of your car (and make sure you gift aid – it’s very satisfying). If passing on to friends or family, actually hand the item over and if the disposal is the only option, make the trip to the tip or the wheelie bin. Whatever you decide to do, make sure the stuff leaves your house.
If all else fails, don’t think of decluttering as throwing stuff away and instead focus on the very positive things it adds to your life
- Time – being able to find things quickly and easily.
- Space – the creation of additional space in your home.
- Clarity and focus – decluttering removes a cause of stress and worry.
- Happiness – I ask clients to think about how they feel once they’ve organised and sorted their wardrobe. Apply that to bigger areas / spaces and you can see how decluttering improves your mood.
- And best of all, these are gifts you won’t feel guilty about. Happy 2019.