When we think of bad habits we might think of biting our nails or smoking, but a habit is any regular tendency to do something, especially something that’s difficult to give up. It’s often a behaviour that has become engrained, we don’t even realise we’re doing it, or think that there could be another way. In this blog for Spring Clearing Week, Lesley Naylor of Clutter Therapy gives us some ideas on how to change old habits, look at how we organise things and realise that change is good and possible.
The hall is the first thing you see when you get home. If you don’t have a hall as such then it’s wherever you hang your coats, kick off your shoes and throw your bags. For a lot of my clients this is a real problem area. They walk into their house and are straight away confronted by clutter. What a welcome! But rest assured, it’s often just habit. You wear a coat or jacket, then leave it in the hall. You use a bag, then leave it in the hall… and the same goes with shoes and post! But we’ll come to that later.
My first tip would be to sit and think: what is it used for and what do you need? If you have space, I suggest a cupboard. One of my clients has a cupboard with hanging space and shelves which are used to store the ironing, because that’s what makes sense to her. Bars or shelves can be fitted at the bottom for shoes. Hooks for school bags or shopping bags can also be a good addition.
In a smaller space, coat hooks, with a shelf above, also work well. You can place small baskets on top for keys, gloves or hats. This also keeps keys out of sight of windows or the door. Limit the number of coats per person, as this easily gets out of hand. Have a day each week when the coats are cleared and hung back in the wardrobes. This also helps the coats and jackets keep their shape.
Shoes are often stored in the hall and there are many different styles of storage available. My old friend Google can help here. These can look very attractive and keep shoes tidy, but again once each week declutter and store surplus shoes upstairs.
Drawers are great for scarves. Fold scarves and store them so that you can see them all at first glance. It’s like a filing system. It’s important to make the space work and look inviting for you and your guests!
Let’s face it, life is busy but turning your back on the post can be like turning your back on the ocean – it catches you out! Piles of paper come into our homes every week through the letterbox, in children’s school bags or home from work. It’s so easy to get into bad habits of “I’ll open it later” or “I’ll deal with it tomorrow”. Often clutter is merely delayed actions and decisions. If you have a mail avoidance habit and want to take control, it can be done. I have spent a lot of time with clients opening avoided post, which they thought was unimportant, only to find cheques, important information and invitations or appointments, which they missed!
Again, spend some time thinking about what will work for you. The first thing I suggest is having an easily accessible recycling bin for all the unwanted advertising letters and flyers. Having a shredder nearby also works so you don’t put any personal information straight into the bin. You should aim to cut down the amount of stored paperwork and, whenever possible, have a one touch habit. Don’t need it? Deal with it now!
In an ideal world, dealing with everything immediately is best. Alternatively, having trays or a drawer containing separate sections, close to where the post comes in works well.
1. Action (Give yourself a time limit to deal with this)
2. File (Empty regularly)
3. Time-limited information (e.g. notifications)
Once a week check through and most importantly, take action.
Car clutter seems simple, but it really is a bad clutter habit. My big tip is to have a roll of small bin liners in the glove compartment. When you’re stuck in traffic or arrive early somewhere have a tidy. Take your parking tickets, sweet wrappers, papers and sandwich wrappers home and bin them. It’s a good habit to get into!
This habit can happen anywhere and it’s a big one. Once something has been left there for some time it just blends into everything else and gets added to and added to. It becomes one mess instead of individual objects. This can easily become overwhelming.
To avoid this happening do the reset test. Take a few minutes at the end of the day. Look around on your way upstairs and take the things that belong up there with you. Deliver them to where they live. Having a place for everything – like with like – is key. Get others in the house to help and build good habits for your children. Coach them in being organised when they’re young, it’s like giving them a gift for the future, and make it fun! A few minutes a day is so much better than the unsettling feeling of always having lots to do but not being able to face it because it’s a huge task.
These are just four habits that, if broken, will make a big difference, but all clutter habits can be thought of in the same way.
Think about your clutter making habit. Why is it happening? What will work for you? Can you put a better system in place? Even small changes can make a big difference. Then keep it up. Good luck!
If you would like some help with resetting your habits to organise your home, you can find a local professional organiser here.