How To Declutter

For many of us, the most overwhelming part of cleaning our homes is getting rid of the clutter. There are no two ways about it, decluttering your home can be a huge job. For so many people it seems that ‘letting go’ of their surplus belongings is the biggest hurdle to overcome – it stops them from properly finishing or even starting the decluttering process in the first place.

Our lives should not be so burdened with clutter. A minimalistic approach to life can be very uplifting both to the spirit and one’s health. Besides, effective cleaning can be almost impossible if your home is full of clutter. You spend the time you have set aside to clean merely picking stuff up and tidying away old newspapers, magazines, and toys.

If your home is starting to feel cluttered and you find that you are struggling to locate your belongings when you need them, then you know that this is a job that you need to do.

My advice is to break your home into sections and tackle one section at a time: Bedrooms Bathrooms Kitchen Living rooms Garage/garden shed Plan some time to achieve these tasks – slot them into your diary. If you need help, ask for it.

Involve other family members or ask a friend to help out. A weekend can be a practical time for tackling jobs such as the garage or the garden shed and you may want to choose a dry day to do these.

When it comes to decluttering, it’s easy to take a negative approach. The worst way to tackle decluttering is to grab a box or a few bin bags and literally just throw stuff away in order to speed up the process.

Decluttering needs a more positive approach. Evaluate each item before you make the decision to throw it away.

Ask yourself: Do I use it? Do I need it? Do I really want it? If your answer is no to any of these questions, you should think about getting rid.

It helps to sort your items into piles: Keep pile Donates pile Rubbish pile Take the useable items to your local charity shop, have a car boot sale or use local social media selling sites to move them on. If your items are in good condition, it will give someone else a good turn to use them.

THE 5-MINUTE CHALLENGE

Baby steps are important for some people when decluttering. If the thought of dedicating a day or weekend to it is too much, then why not try my 5-minute declutter challenge? Even if it only makes a dent in your mountain, it’s a start. Celebrate after you’ve made that start and be proud.

Then, take another 5 minutes tomorrow… And another 5 minutes the day after that… Before you know it, you’ll have cleared out a whole wardrobe or a room, then half your house. Before long, your house could be even more uncluttered than mine.

For those who are overwhelmed by their clutter, here are some great ways to get started, 5 minutes at a time: Paperwork Choose a designated spot for incoming paperwork – a good place is a worktop in the kitchen or in the main family area.

Invest in some storage that looks aesthetically pleasing – I like a wire basket and use it to keep school letters, mail, bills and those other bits and pieces that come in throughout the week. Then, dedicate 5 minutes a week to sorting through it. Pick a shelf Take 5 minutes to evaluate what you have on it. Tidy it up and remove whatever is not needed or anything that has not been used in the last 6 months.

Pick up 5 things These should be things that you actually use, but that you just seem to put anywhere, because they don’t have a home. Take a minute to think it through – where would be a good home? Then assign them a spot and stick to it.

Clothes When you are getting ready in the morning and looking through your wardrobe for something to wear, spend 5 minutes pulling out items that you haven’t worn in a long time.

If they are seasonal clothes, store them in vacuum storage bags or in under-bed storage bags. Get rid of the rest. Do this a little at a time, until your wardrobe only contains what you like to wear. Pull everything out of a drawer. Just take the drawer out and empty it onto a table.

Sort the items into 3 piles: HANDY HINT Start with all your hangers turned the same way. Whenever you wear an item and put it back on the hanger, turn the hanger around. After a few weeks, the hangers that haven’t been turned are items that need to go. Stuff that really belongs in the drawer. Stuff that belongs elsewhere.

Stuff to get rid of. Clean the drawer, then replace the items from the first pile in a neat and orderly fashion. Deal with the other piles immediately! Learn to love the uncluttered look. Once you’ve decluttered an area, take the time to enjoy it.

It’s a lovely look. Make that your standard! Learn to hate clutter! Then catch clutter and toss it, wherever it crops up.

50 things you need to chuck away

Don’t be overwhelmed by the build-up of clutter in your home – be ruthless.

I mean, do you really drink out of every single mug in your cupboard or do you just use a few? Turn it into a bit of a game and set yourself a goal. Here I have listed 50 things to chuck away.

Check each category and go for it!

Out-of-date newspaper and magazines Scraps of wrapping paper Old paperwork (make sure you shred anything with personal details on it) Takeaway menus that you don’t use Birthday and Christmas cards Burnt-out candles Diffusers that have lost their scent Plastic food tubs that are discoloured Out-of-date tinned food Odd cutlery Mugs and glasses that don’t match sets Tablemats that are peeling and look worn Recipe cards you don’t use Old tea towels with holes Empty jars Empty boxes Medication that has expired Bathroom products that have expired or that you just don’t use (see also pages 106–107) Odd socks Odd earrings Broken or scratched sunglasses Underwear that has frayed or has holes Worn-out hair bobbles Make-up that you don’t wear Tatty make-up brushes Bedding that no longer matches your colour scheme Worn-out bath towels and mats Hair brushes with bristles missing Clothes that don’t fit anymore Belts that are worn and close to breaking Battered handbags and purses Books you have read and won’t read again DVDs that you won’t watch again Dried flowers that look tatty Chipped ornaments Old mobile phones Old phone chargers Broken light bulbs Games consoles that no longer work or aren’t played with Used batteries Broken toys Felt tips and pens that don’t work Receipts Business cards Old family planners and calendars Post-it note messages Old format computer discs Used note pads Used ink cartridges Used gift cards Chucking yourself in at the deep end like this will make you feel so much better.

You will find it much easier to organize your home when you only have items you actually want and need. Don’t forget to donate, recycle and sell, too.