We’re delighted to share this guest blog by APDO member Hannah Young about bite-size decluttering tasks. Hannah is also a contributor for Houzz, the leading platform for home renovation and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device (Original article first published on Houzz)
Got half an hour to spare? Spend it productively with these small organising jobs that will have a big effect:
A really thorough declutter and organising blitz should be done in short chunks over several weeks, but if you don’t have time for this there are still ways to get your home in order. These simple half-hour ideas will be perfect to help you organise the most visible and frequently used areas of your home, to make daily life that little bit easier.
Clear your kitchen surfaces
Kitchens can be a clutter magnet, with all sorts of things ending up on the worktop. Items that are used most days can be kept out if you prefer, but try to keep similar items together in attractive storage canisters. This means that multiple items become a single entity, which looks more streamlined, and it also makes cleaning underneath much easier.
Start by clearing all the surfaces in your kitchen – you may be surprised at how much you have accumulated. Think carefully about which items you want to display on the surfaces. A good tip is to keep only those items that you find beautiful, or that are used daily.
Sift out items that you’re happy to let go of, and those that don’t belong in the room. The other items can be stored in cupboards and drawers out of sight.
Streamline your toiletries
Gather together all your toiletries and cosmetics from around your home. Throw away or recycle anything that’s old. You can find out the shelf life of toiletries by looking for a number next to a picture of a pot. There are a few charities who specifically accept new and nearly-new toiletries and cosmetics, such as Give and Makeup. Check online to find organisations locally, too.
As you go along, make note of which items you haven’t used, to ensure you avoid buying them again in the future.
Put items back in cupboards and on shelves and corral smaller things into pretty jars and baskets. This will keep them all together and make it easier to clean the bathroom.
Sort the silverware
How many things in your cutlery drawer have ended up there without you realising? Set aside half an hour to completely empty the drawer and sort through everything that’s there. When the drawer is clear, give it all a thorough clean. This is a good time to replace an ill-fitting drawer divider with one that sits neatly, too.
Put aside any unwanted utensils, tools or cutlery to donate to your local charity shop or recycle at the local household waste centre. Then only put back what you want to keep, allocating a section for each type of item, including utensils and baking accessories. The roomy drawer divider pictured even has a section for clingfilm.
Investigate under the sink
Slide-out storage that fits in the awkward area underneath your sink is a great solution to avoid having half-used bottles of cleaning products festering at the back of the cupboard. A good immediate solution is a small box or two that you can pull out like a drawer to easily access products stored at the back.
There are so many single-purpose cleaning solutions available now that it’s easy to end up with zillions of products that are rarely used. With a few exceptions, multi-purpose cleaning products are the best option. And many people are now choosing chemical-free products, or microfibre cloths that can be used simply with water.
Hang up that broom
Broom cupboards can easily get out of control, with mops and brooms falling out every time you open the door. Keep things in order by hanging as much as you can from hooks on the wall. It’s then easy to locate the cleaning implement you need, and to pop it away securely.
Hanging pockets or baskets like those pictured are also a great way to organise your cleaning products, keeping them up high out of the reach of pets and children. Allocate a basket for your cleaning cloths, too. Storing them in this way has the added benefit of allowing them to dry and air between uses.
Post your mail
Do you have somewhere to put the post in your home? Or do you end up finding unopened mail in random places? A post and stationery station will hopefully make it easier to deal with your incoming letters.
You won’t be able to create a recessed area like this in 30 minutes, but you can easily invest in some wall-mounted pockets or box files. Remember to label each box in a way that works for you. A good place to start is by having a slot for each of the following categories: mail in, to action, to file, mail out.
Tackle the desk
If you need to work from home, it helps to have a clear desk space and everything you might need close to hand.
Before you organise, you’ll need to try out all your pens and chuck any that don’t work. Donate any duplicate tools to charity. Make a note of what you tend to over-buy and put it on your ‘no-need-to-buy’ list.
Utilise shelves for books or relevant files and hang up a pocket tidy to keep all your stationery items in order. If you’ve space for a drawer to hold pens and other stationery essentials, a great way to keep it in order is to use a cutlery tray to compartmentalise different items.
Sift your socks
A whole wardrobe declutter can be a daunting prospect, but tackling your socks and tights is a perfect place to start. In fact, professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn advises clients to “start with your sock drawer” and has written a book with just that title.
Empty out the drawer onto your bed. Get some shallow boxes to use as dividers and pop these in the drawer. Pair and fold up the socks you’re keeping and pop them away – keep like with like so you can find sports socks or long socks, for example, more easily.
For any socks or tights that are past their best, pop them in a bag, label it ‘rags’ and send it to your local charity shop for recycling. If this motivates you to tackle the rest of your wardrobe, find your local professional organiser through the APDO website.
Encourage your kids
Get your children involved with a 30-minute clear-out in their bedrooms. Empty just one cupboard or toy box, and ask your child what they would like to do with each of the items inside. If they no longer play with a particular toy, ask them if they would like to give it to another child to play with, and introduce the idea of giving to charity.
Start small and avoid overwhelming them with lots of decisions. When one cupboard is tidy, you could give yourselves a reward by playing together with the toys they’ve decided to keep. You can declutter another cupboard or toy box next time.
Love your linen
A neat and tidy airing cupboard with plenty of space makes putting away linen much less of a chore, so this is a great place to have a 30-minute blitz.
Take an inventory of what sheets and towels you have. You only need two sets of bed linen for each bed – one on the bed and a clean set. The same goes for towels – a maximum of two per person, plus one for each guest that you might have at any one time. Once you’ve done a linen count, you can put any additional sets in the charity bag.
Now put everything back in the cupboard as neatly as possible. Place towels with the fold at the front as it looks neater. A good trick is to keep bed sets folded inside the coordinating pillowcase, so that everything’s together when you need it.
Sometimes your decluttering tasks can appear too overwhelming to tackle alone. If you need specialist expertise and support, look no further than the APDO directory of accredited members. Find your nearest organisers here.