6 essential tips from decluttering experts
Although it may sound like a posh word for tidying up, decluttering is not as easy as picking up a few things and chucking them out.
In fact, it’s difficult if you don’t know where to start and how to keep going without breaking down while knee-deep in stuff. That’s why we’ve asked 4 of our favourite decluttering experts from around the web to share their top tips with us.
Rachel Papworth, Green and Tidy
Amanda Manson, Orderly Office and Home
Vicky Silverthorn, You Need A Vicky
Sarah Bickers, Free Your Space
First things first: why should you declutter? Well, as Rachel from Green and Tidy puts it: “Save time and money, improve your mental and physical health, cut your carbon footprint and simplify your life. What’s not to love about decluttering?”
Sounds like a good enough reason to us. Let’s get started…
Time is the biggest obstacle to your decluttering efforts. You’re too busy. You’re too tired. It’ll take too long. These are just excuses, of course: everyone has time. They just have to make it.
“Set aside the time – all very well saying you’ll do it, but book some time with yourself to get stuck in or it will never happen!” writes Amanda. “Set a timer and work in blocks until it’s finished.”
As well as setting aside time for decluttering, Rachel suggests scheduling time to do the jobs that your decluttering throws up, including “repairing, returning, auctioning.”
Decluttering isn’t a one-off task either. Amanda suggests making decluttering “a habit – don’t let old ways creep back in. Make the effort to maintain your newly organised space.”
Declutter one step at a time
We’ve said it many times before but tackling all your clutter at once is a bad idea. Our experts agree, and have offered up some extra tips too!
‘Tackle it in bite-sized chunks. Perhaps a couple of hours at time.’ writes Rachel, ‘Focus on one small area and deal with everything in it, one item at a time, before moving on. Take on a small area in those two hours. If you finish early, you can always do another bit.’
Vicky agrees: ‘Focus on one tiny area a day – a drawer, a cupboard, under the bed. Once you’ve done one small section, stop yourself doing another. It is far better to start, work, complete than it is to start, feel overwhelmed and stop unfinished.’
Don’t buy storage prematurely
Storage is just a pretty way of housing stuff you don’t need. That’s why Sarah recommends that you ‘Declutter BEFORE buying storage.’
‘You don’t know what you’ll need until decluttering is complete, and you may surprise yourself (hopefully) as to the amount of space you end up with,’ Vicky writes.
‘Remember, it’s not just our belongings that create clutter, but furniture too’, she continues. ‘Our tendencies are to fill any space we have, so if you have excess drawers and cabinets, your subconscious may be telling you to fill them! Stop the clutter in its tracks!’
Decide what to do with your clutter
Moving your clutter is only half the battle: you need to find a new home for it too. Luckily, our experts have a few suggestions…
‘The satisfaction you feel when clutter leaves your house is huge’, Vicky writes. ‘The irritation you feel when you trip over boxes of junk in the hall for a week is almost as powerful. Before you start, check when your local charity shop and tip are open and don’t forget to stock up on rubbish bags.’
You can also use your clutter for good, as Vicky explains: ‘Donating items to charity shops allows you to tap into the joy the next owner will feel. The items you are passing on were used and loved by you and will be again useful to and cherished by someone else. Focusing on this positive aspect makes it much easier to let go of items you do not use.’
Both Amanda and Sarah suggest sorting your clutter by category, with Amanda suggesting that you ‘gather all the CDs in your home and sort them together’ and Sarah suggesting categories such as: ‘bin, recycle, charity shop, sell or give away’.
The practice of asking whether you truly love the stuff you own became mainstream in 2015 thanks to Marie Kondo’s bestseller The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Our experts think it’s a good idea too!
‘Be honest with yourself,’ writes Sarah. ‘Do you love it? Do you use it?’
Amanda agrees: ‘Need it, use it, love it? – If the answer is ‘no’, consider removing it from your space.’
Vicky has an extra piece of important advice too: ‘When it comes to photographs or sentimental items, you should gather them all in a neat area and leave them until the end of a day to deal with. Start reminiscing and it will slow your progress down. Think of it as a reward for a hard day’s work.’
And finally, after a long day’s decluttering…
‘Pat yourself on the back for everything you achieve,’ writes Rachel. ‘Before and after photos are great for seeing your results.’
You can find loads more decluttering tips on each of our experts’ websites, the links to which you’ll find above. Don’t forget to check out our own decluttering section for regular tips either!
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