Everyone is prone to collecting and hoarding items that we might not necessarily need, it’s human nature!
However, decluttering has been shown to have some amazing benefits for our overall health and well-being. It can be hard work, sometimes a little bit emotional, but in the end you feel a sense of accomplishment, pride, and clarity of mind. And, with spring just around the corner, we think this is the perfect time to streamline your spaces. After all, the calm and satisfaction received from a clutter-free home comes from bringing aspects of your life you perceived as disorganised back within your control.
Here are our key steps for tackling the ‘stuff’ that’s been weighing on your mind to leave you positive, relaxed, and refreshed.
There are a few things to bear in mind when tackling household clutter. So, to help make things easier, we’ve given a room-by-room break down of three sections of the house we know to be prime ‘dumping ground’ areas:
The living room is where we relax, put our feet up, and entertain guests so it makes sense that the area should radiate positivity. Ensure you create a sense of openness, making the most of your floor space to give the room a lovely airy atmosphere and letting as much natural light in as possible:
Consider purchasing a cupboard for keeping your electronic goods in check. This can house your television, consoles, channel boxes, remotes, and those pesky disorganised wires in one fell swoop. Organising things into categories in this way helps you compartmentalise your living room into organised sections.
Installing shelves might seem an obvious choice, but the benefits are twofold. Not only does a shelf help keep small items off the floor (but still within reach) it can provide a focal point to a wall – just like a piece of art or a picture.
Use your creativity when it comes to storage. One option is to purchase a sofa with in-built storage, or an ottoman that’s in-keeping with your living room which can house those little knick-knacks you might occasionally use like blankets, magazines, and newspapers. Having miscellaneous things like these is absolutely fine by us, so long as they’re in one place!
Upon entering, we think your home should uplift your mood. Having to traverse an abyss of shoes, coats, umbrellas, and school bags can cause stress at a time when you need to unwind. But, with a couple of small changes you can easily eliminate clutter and create a feeling of tranquillity upon entering your house:
Installing plenty of hooks for coats helps avoid stacking them on top of each other and encroaching into hallway space.
Shoe racks are possibly one of the most valuable space-saving assets to any house. It’s nice to kick off your shoes after a long day, but not aesthetically pleasing to have then strewn across the floor. Shoe racks come in all shapes and sizes, from ones you can hang on the wall, to shelved cabinets.
The bathroom is often the smallest shared space in the household but one which houses the most disposable products. Some people have more toiletries than others, but the same rules should apply to everyone. You’ll thank yourself if this space is clutter-free when it comes to cleaning it:
If you don’t use it, lose it. Most bathroom cabinets have products and electronics in there that are either empty, broken, or never used – get rid!
Maintain a seasonal rotation. In spring you probably won’t be needing sun lotion, after sun, or any other warm-weather products. Store them somewhere out of the way ready for summer.
The Work Space
Whether you work in an office or at home, it’s been proven that having a clutter-free personal work environment can help you manage your workload better, leading to a more productive and stress-free environment. Decluttering little by little is one tactic, but often documents, files, and notes build up quicker than you can manage.
Decluttering your personal office space
Start from scratch. We suggest removing all items from your desk or room, going through them one by one and deciding then and there what is useful. When placing things back into an empty work space you will have a clearer idea of where things should go for ease of access. This is something called the ‘flow’, a hierarchy of importance to help you categorise your files.
Decluttering your online space
Our lives are more online than ever and our personal cyber space can become just as cluttered and confusing as our homes. So, spending a morning working through your online files, documents, and bookmarked pages is an invaluable time saving exercise in the long run. If you’re reluctant to delete files, then find yourself a hard drive to store them on. You’ll feel on top of the task in hand and this is the first step towards solving it!
Refreshing the Mind
Now that your home and workspace has received a positive lift, it’s time to focus your attention towards yourself. Here’s our top tips for refreshing and decluttering a busy mind:
Take some time out of your day to unwind. We find that including some relaxing music can really help concentrate the mind and uplift your mood. Focusing on sound relieves stress and helps alleviate any worries you’ve had that day. When you decide to return to your daily tasks, you’ll approach it in a more relaxed and measured manner.
We’ve selected three playlists you might like to try – perhaps you can have it in the background when you’re decluttering your home or office!
Playlist 1: Instrumental meditative music
Playlist 2: Focusing on the task in hand
Playlist 3: Mindfulness
Don’t just take our word for it! If you’re looking for further inspiration to help you on the road to a clutter-free lifestyle, there’s a wealth of material out there supporting and exploring the benefits of decluttering.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
By Marie Kondo
Arguably one of the best in the business, Marie Kondo treats decluttering as an art form. She explains how to banish clutter forever and looks deeper into the overall benefits it has on well-being. As a taster, here are some of her rules:
Imagine your ideal life – what do you want to be able to do inside your house?
Tidy in one go – shock your mindset.
Keep items that spark joy for you.
Decluttering your mind
By S.J. Scott
This book explores how to overcome those daily tasks that can cause distress and anxiety. The key is creating more space in your mind for the important things that matter.
Unstuffed: Decluttering your home, mind & soul
By Ruth Soukup
Ruth Soukup’s book looks into the connection between mental well-being and decluttering. Perhaps more storage space isn’t the answer.
Kate Ibbotson – A Tidy Mind
We asked professional declutterer Kate to provide some pearls of wisdom and this was her response:
“Life these days is busier than ever and it’s so important to find a sense of calm amidst the chaos. As a Declutter Expert, Professional Organiser and Life Simplification Coach, I founded A Tidy Mind to support overwhelmed people to declutter their homes and simplify their lives – the end goal is always to achieve the mental clarity to focus on what really matters.”
“Your environment has a huge impact on your mood and well-being. You deserve a refuge, a place where you can relax and re-energise. Too many possessions or an untidy space send a message to the brain that there’s work to do. For each and everything you own you also need to allocate headspace to store, maintain and organise it. By keeping only what adds true value to your life, you can be sure each item deserves a place in your home – and head.”
KATE’S TOP TIPS TO TACKLE CLUTTER
(1) Have a plan of attack
Don’t try to declutter your whole house in a week – you’ll exhaust and overwhelm yourself. Declutter in bite-size chunks of between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. Focus on contained spaces such as a drawer, cupboard or shelf. Arm yourself with paper and a pen to make notes of ‘actions’ and designate rubbish, recycling and donation bags
(2) Have a place for everything
Assign a permanent ‘resting place’ to each and every possession, especially for items which tend to accumulate in ‘clutter hotspots’. For example, if school stuff accumulates on the kitchen table, create a ‘homework’ box on a shelf for each child. Of course, you must also return items to their homes after use, so try to live by the mantra ‘don’t put it down, put it away’.
(3) Ensure easy access
If you can’t easily lay your hands on an item, it might as well not exist. Group like with like and use drawer dividers to keep track of what you own and avoid buying duplicates. Use under the shelf storage and ‘lazy Susans’ in cupboards to ensure you’re utilising all available space. If you use boxes to contain items, don’t assume you’ll remember what’s in them – label them, so you will know at a glance.
(4) Make a decision
In my industry, we say that clutter is often a result of decision delay. It can be hard to decide what to do with some items and seem easier to pass them by. But by pushing through that challenge, that’s how you will see real results.
Suzie Young – Live your Decluttered Life
Suzie is a Professional organiser and Declutter Coach. So, you can be sure she knows the ins and outs of tackling a cluttered house. She explains that clutter is not simply stuff that you’ve acquired over your lifetime, it’s anything that gets in the way of you and your ideal life. She offers solid, practical advice to people looking to streamline their lives, with the support of a sympathetic ear on her blog.
“I’d really like you to take some time this week to think about what you honestly want for your home or clutter. Really truly deep down inside how do you want to feel? Begin with the end in mind but think about how you want to feel as well as how you want the space to look. What do you want to get out of your decluttering?”
Keeping hold of the things you hold most dear, or those items that you find most useful contributes towards creating a positive and purposeful space to be in. In the words of Marie Kondo, ensure you keep those possessions that ‘spark joy’ when you see or touch them. Overall, we hope we’ve explained that decluttering your home or workspace is as much about how it makes you feel as it is about tidying. Don’t forget to take time out to refresh your mind every now and again.
The Willow & Hall team