In my last blog post, where I took you through the ten essential steps to designing your dream decor, I talked about the importance of decluttering before you begin to decorate. Having clutter-free, clear space in your home means that you can live in a calm and organised environment, and enjoy your space.
Planning the storage for your decorating project is a big thing. Wardrobes, cupboards, boxes and cabinets all take up precious space in your room, and so it’s important that you only keep what you really need to. We often think that we have storage issues, but in most cases the issue isn’t about having insufficient storage, it’s about the amount of (often unnecessary) possessions we hold on to.
People hold on to clutter for two main reasons: (1) they don’t have systems in place to deal with the clutter and/or (2) they are emotionally attached to their possessions. Marie Kondo, who I’ve talked about before, has written extensively on the subject of decluttering and home organisation. In her book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying”, she talks about overcoming the emotional attachment to possessions. She suggests that you thank the items for their usefulness and memories they have brought you, and acknowledge that it is time to move on. I don’t really do her work justice here, but if you are emotionally attached to items, then definitely check out her writing.
So today’s post is about the practical elements of decluttering: how to do it, and which systems you need in place to deal with clutter going forward.
Declutter by Type
Declutter your house item type by item type (rather than room by room). So for example, you sort out all paperwork first no matter where it is in the house, before moving on to shoes, or toys or clothing.
Calendarise your decluttering
It’s no good just thinking, “I need to clear out that room. I’ll do it when I have more time”. If it isn’t in the diary, it doesn’t happen, so make sure you calendarise some time to do this. Be realistic about how much you can achieve in the time set.
There’s no time that’s going to feel absolutely right to start clearing space in your home and it’s really easy to procrastinate about getting started. Commit to spending just 10 minutes (choose one drawer or one item to organise) and make a start. Once you get going, you are likely to find the enthusiasm to continue.
Deal with paperwork immediately and once only
I don’t know about you, but I used to drown under the weight of the never ending paperwork that comes home, especially once my children started school. You’d think, living in the digital age, that paperwork wouldn’t be a problem, but we still receive heaps of the stuff. I now have a really good (and simple) system for dealing with papers, and I use technology to help. As soon as paperwork comes into my home, I deal with it there and then, and then recycle the paper. Sounds really simple? It is, but it works. Here's an example: If I get an invitation to a child’s party, I respond there and then, write on the invitation that I’ve responded and then -here’s the clever bit- I take a photo of the invitation and then throw the paper in the recycling. At the same time, I also put a note in my digital calendar of the date of the party and I put a task into my calendar to buy a card, present, wrapping paper and so on. Yes it takes a few minutes to do this, but in the battle between paperwork and me, it’s now me that’s on top. Do this for magazines and newspapers too. Photograph (or scan) what you want to keep, and recycle the rest.
Employ technology to help you out
I use Microsoft OneNote to store the photos of the paperwork I destroy and I use the Calendars 5 app, which I love because it allows me to add tasks directly into my calendar, rather than keeping them on a separate to do list (if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen). Once an event has happened, simply hit delete.
Rid your shelves of books
If you have a bookshelf which is heaving with books it just looks disorganised and ugly, and attracts more clutter. In the day of the Kindle, E-readers and tablets, you don’t need books cluttering up your home. Really you don’t. If you have any sentimental books, put them in a box and store them away out of sight, otherwise get rid! A few books as part of bookshelf styling is great; keeping every book you’ve ever read is not.
Cull your clothing
Clothing means different things to different people. For some people, clothing is just about warmth and covering up, but for others, clothing can be a style statement, and it can even represent someone's identity. Some people keep clothing that reminds them of special moments, forming part of their memories. Now that’s all well and good if you have a large dressing room with oodles of space, but if you don’t not being able to access your day to day clothing because you can’t see through the sentimental items just makes life really difficult. So you need to make a decision. Allow yourself one or two items to keep for sentimental reasons, and then get rid of the rest. Marie Kondo recommends that you thank the item for the wonderful experiences and memories that it has given you, but that now it is time to give it away and move on. I kind of like that. A memory doesn’t stop existing because you’ve given an item away. And keeping items which don’t fit you because you're dieting and hope to get into it again one day? I have some news for you- it may well not fit in the right places or be in fashion even when it does fit you. Do yourself a favour; get rid now, and treat yourself to something new when you hit the weight goal you’re after.
Until next time x
*Main Image Source: Hammonds Furniture