How to declutter your home – ahead of the festive clutter!
-Oct 31, Caroline Blight, Living -
Following Halloween, your home is most likely packed with giant carved pumpkins, ghost outfits and lanterns. But once November rolls around our thoughts will turn to decorating for the festive season. If you’re in America, the you’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving, and elsewhere in the world, you’ll be decking the halls with boughs of holly, twinkly lights and putting a garland on your front door. But, before it all kicks in, have you considered decluttering your home, before the guests start arriving for plates of mince pies and glasses of mulled wine?
There is nothing like the festive season to make your home feel full to bursting. With decorations up, gifts stacked up to give and lots of lovely new things received, suddenly it can feel like your house has shrunk. And feeling like our homes are filled to bursting can be bad for our mental health too. It can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and also frustration as we struggle to find what we need, when we need it. So this year get yourself prepared and gain the feeling of calmness which a decluttered home can give you.
Declutter guru, and author of Home Declutter Kit, Helen Sanderson, says a streamline, organised home is not only easier to manage but is actually good for our wellbeing. Luckily she has plenty of tips to help some of us natural hoarders clear our homes before we deck the halls…
The very idea of having to declutter can be overwhelming to some people, what are the first steps they can take to tackle the clutter?
Start with one room or area. This could be your desk, kitchen or bathroom. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. The idea’s to start with something manageable, so you achieve success. This will help with the overwhelm, which is often based in emotional panic and a belief that the task’s impossible. The more small successes you have, the more your confidence will grow. Don’t start too small though, make sure you tackle something that’ll give you a sense of achievement.
What would you say to someone who thinks they don’t have time to take on the job?
Don’t underestimate yourself. If you set aside time, remove distractions and really focus, you’ll be amazed what you’re capable of. Often clutter’s built up because we have busy lives and haven’t put the time aside to deal with it. If a garden isn’t tended, it will become overgrown and so will your home. It really helps if you stay on top of things, so I recommend scheduling a regular clear out.
Can decluttering genuinely be quite painful for some people?
If you’ve had a traumatic experience or lost someone you love, objects can come to represent something very meaningful. If this is the case, it’s important to get support and do the process mindfully and carefully. I’ve included a section and cards to assist you when dealing with memories at the end of the Home Declutter Kit. The idea of change is scary, so we may put it off. If living with clutter has become familiar, you simply might not see it anymore and think it doesn’t matter. But it does, because you matter. Boost your self-esteem by taking back control of your home and letting that surplus stuff go. Addressing what you find difficult and challenging will free you more than you realise.
When you have helped people what are the most common initial benefits they often find?
The first noticeable change is in people’s energy levels. A day of decluttering can be tiring, but most people feel liberated and energised by the process. After that, there’s an increased sense of power and positivity that something that’s been getting them down is being dealt with. They feel more relaxed and have more headspace as they’re not stuck in procrastination anymore.
How do you recommend tackling clutter as an ongoing problem rather than having a clear out a couple times a year? Or is it better to set aside time every few months to keep on top of things?
I recommend making your initial declutter a priority project and setting aside a few dedicated days to deal with it. Then keep moving on with your life and doing something creative or fulfilling with your time. Once you’ve done this, the key is to keep it maintained with regular tidy ups. So if you are someone who loves to shop, have a ‘one in, one out’ policy!
What can we all do about that pile of stuff which accumulates in a certain corner or say the kitchen on the table by the door – with things we need to action, the odd lip balm, something from your pocket…
I love this question! Every home has what I call a ‘homeless’ corner where objects accumulate and no-one knows where they live. The key is to get into the habit of regularly addressing that pile and sorting it into, Keep, Bin, Recycle, Donate and Action. Then take your Keep pile and allocate homes for things. I recommend using labels or post-its to help you remember to put things away. Then set time aside to deal with those Action it items. If they need mending, mend them. If they’ve been sitting there for 12 months, ask yourself honestly if you’ll ever do it. It can be helpful to have an ‘action it’ drawer, and set time aside to deal with those things, in the same way you might put time aside to deal with filing, once every month or so.
If you’re spending Christmas or Thanksgiving weekend alone this year, we reveal why it could be one of your most enjoyable years yet. And, don’t forget that meditation might just be the key to surviving the next eight weeks in one piece!