Friday, 6 January 2012

Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right*

It’s the beginning of 2012 and with that comes the setting of annual resolutions that we will typically break within a week (well done if you are still adhering to ambitious resolutions around abstinence from alcohol) – one of my main resolutions for this coming year is to stop hoarding clothes and other items I haven’t used for years. So, in an effort to at least get things off on the right footing (as we are still in the first week of the new year) I thought I would provide you with some top tips on how to de-clutter effectively.

Many of us want to keep our home in order, but it can be tough. Over time our homes (read ‘we’) have a tendency to accumulate and collect all kinds of stuff – we grow into the space that we have, then we outgrow it, then we either move house (expensive) or decide to de-clutter (cheap, free or, if you get it right, revenue generating)… Most of the time we deceive ourselves into thinking that all the stuff in our home is absolutely essential, but it’s not! We are all guilty of holding on to too much stuff that we don’t really care for but are afraid to get rid off, just in case… Most of us hoard things and stash them away in valuable storage space, whether it is old clothes, letters, magazines or even plastic bags! Or, we have declared attachment to items for sentimental reasons, such as gifts, holidays and heirlooms. Blokes inevitably have random drawers full of cables (that they will never use because they don’t know what they are for) and old gadgets and phones (which can be easily sold for cold hard cash).

Given it’s the start of a brand new year, it’s time to redefine our deeply ingrained beliefs around the need to hoard, let go of the soppy sentimentality and get rid of all the stuff that is cluttering up your home.

Here are seven top tips on how to de-clutter your home:

1. Start Now – Procrastination is the major obstacle to de-cluttering (this may be driven by inability to accept that hoarding is a bad thing)

2. Start Small – Take one room at a time, set aside a day and commit to finishing it! Whether it is your bedroom, a spare room or kitchen. That way you won’t panic at the enormity of the task. You’re more likely to succeed by focusing on one room instead of flitting between rooms (which in itself makes de-cluttering a much larger and more complex task that is almost impossible to complete – we also end up moving stuff from one room to another and deceive ourselves into thinking that we are de-cluttering)

3. Make a Mess – This is the bit I love but my husband absolutely hates! My belief is that the starting point of an effective de-clutter is to make as much mess as possible and try to ensure that the room in question looks like a bomb has hit it… it’s good to see the magnitude of the task ahead and all the stuff that you have to sift through

4. Be Selective – Group like with like and determine; what you use, what you like and what is surplus to requirements. Only items that are used, perform a useful function or bring pleasure should be kept

5. Don’t Transfer Clutter – Try not to transfer clutter from one room to another – you will only have to deal with it properly another time and that can be soul destroying, more so if you have lots of rooms in your house – imagine what the final room on the journey will look like… (see point 2…)

6. Assess Storage Solutions – It is tempting to splash out on attractive storage boxes before you start de-cluttering - Don’t! Once you have de-cluttered and decided what to keep then it is time to look at storage options. To maintain a clutter free home it is essential that everything has a home;

a. We use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time so put this stuff in the most accessible places.

b. Keep belongings in the room where they are going to be used

c. Treat yourself to new storage items such as new bookcases/ shelves, shoe racks, filing cabinets and boxes for sentimental items (so you can store like with like)

d. If you do keep stuff that you don’t use very often (or at all), it is worth investigating storage options that can both compress the size of these things and protect them from dust, moths, damp, etc.

7. Let Go and Feel Good – Don’t put items in a box and then store them in the garage (this is not de-cluttering and, if you live in London like me, a garage is luxury most of us can only aspire to – imagine!) - give your stuff to charity, offer things on Freecycle, sell on eBay or go to the local tip! Or, for effective disposal of items with any real or perceived value (primarily in London), leave on the street outside your front door for approximately two minutes (even Paul Daniels would be impressed how quickly these things vanish)

In the long run, de-cluttering your home will make life easier, ‘clean up’ the space in your home (both look and feel), help create a more relaxing environment and make way for all your new stuff that you will begin to accumulate to clutter things up again! It may even tempt you to redesign or decorate a room in your house, which is always a good thing!

Another resolution of mine is to reduce my stress levels and really enjoy this year – de-cluttering is just the beginning – I found this quote on the Worldwide Interweb and just love it as I always get properly frustrated with my husband on Sundays when he just wants to read, watch TV or go to the pub in his pyjamas (as I feel we are wasting the weekend). However, this year I am going to try and embrace these days, which he loves so much…

(Image from Pinterest)

So, having preached religiously about de-cluttering, I am now feeling distinctly guilty about the state of my dressing room and study, so I am going to take some of my own medicine and make a start on one of these rooms now…

Jane Price-Stephens in an Interior Designer who runs her own business so, while she probably won’t be able to help you with the de-cluttering work (other than cutting through all the sentimentality…), she would be more than happy to advise on storage solutions, re-decoration or re-design of rooms. 
To find out more visit or call 07970 547433

*Oprah Winfrey

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