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apdo organised autumn garden leaves

Autumn organising for the garden

In the garden, we love to enjoy the beauty of the moment. The first snowdrop, a drift of daffodils, your very own vegetables, bright pots at the door or on the balcony, leaves changing colour in autumn. Gardeners, of course, are always looking down the road as well, planning for what comes next. So we are lucky to have Moira Stone, owner of Uncluttered in Wales, APDO member and keen gardener, to take us through what we need to be organising in our outdoor spaces this Autumn.

Act now so your garden or balcony stays lovely all the way through till spring

It’s time now for a little autumn cleaning, tidying, reorganising and planting to make a difference in your garden straightaway and over the next few months. A neat and well-tended garden will lift the spirits as the weather turns nasty, play its part in sparkling winter festivities, and help to welcome spring. (Yes, spring is on schedule for 2019, however far away it feels at present!)

Autumn weather can be lovely, so get out and enjoy it when you can!

apdo organised autumn garden

Clean up

Get a bucket of hot soapy water ready – with a dash of bleach if there’s algae or moss involved. Autumn cleaning and tidying prevents pests and diseases getting hold and will make a difference when spring and summer roll round again.

Clean, dry and put away the garden furniture and the BBQ. And the garden toys too, unless they are an essential part of outdoors. Scrub the decking to get rid of slippery patches.

Clean empty pots, hanging baskets, canes and plant supports and store them out of reach of wind or frost. Empty the hoses and drip-feed systems and put them away so they don’t freeze and split in the cold winter temperatures.

If you’ve got them, give the greenhouse and cold frame a good going-over. Move the plants temporarily to a sheltered area, protected with fleece, and then brush out all that debris where pests and diseases love to hide. Let in as much daylight as possible by cleaning the glass, including between the panes – use something flexible like a plant label. Remember to put the plants back!

Clean out and disinfect bird boxes.

apdo organised autumn garden furniture organising decluttering

Tidy away

Head for the compost heap, garden waste bin or leaf mould container with:

  • all the faded and finished contents of summer pots and hanging baskets
  • old crops from the vegetable garden
  • fallen leaves from your lawn, path or road.

Trim the hedges and help overwintering wildlife

September is the month to give a last trim to your hawthorn, privet, lonicera, laurel, box, escallonia, holly and yew hedges. New tightly packed, healthy shoots will thicken the hedges up a little before winter and they’ll look neat and tidy for a long time. It’s probably a bit too late to trim beech and hornbeam and don’t trim conifer hedges (apart from yew) now as it encourages bald patches.

Make a place for wildlife to overwinter by creating a ‘dead hedge’ with woody hedge trimmings, tucked away behind the shed or the compost.

Declutter and reorganise the garden shed

The garden shed can quickly become overwhelmed with things, stuffed in hastily as life rolls on through the summer. Decluttering and reorganising will make sure you’ve got an ordered working environment for busy times ahead.

Plastic flower pots just love to fall over and roll out of reach. Ask yourself how many of these troublesome pots you actually need, and get rid of the rest. Many garden centres will recycle them. In my small shed, I’m currently trialling storing the ones I do need in horizontal stacks within box frames.

apdo organised autumn garden pots

Prepare for autumn rains and gales

We all know this weather is coming so be prepared! A few quick checks and a bit of work now is certainly a lot easier than clearing up later.

Check gutters, downpipes and their hoppers for any obstructions like clumps of grass, young buddleia, leaves or moss. Make sure they haven’t come loose and that their joints are sound.

Scrub out the water butt, rinse and then let it refill. A lightproof cover will suppress any green algae. Clear debris out of your pond too, and put a net over it to stop leaves getting in.

You don’t want your plants to get waterlogged or frozen so remove and store any pot saucers, and put the pots up on ‘feet’ or stones.

Autumn wind can ‘burn’ plants, rock them about badly and even make them keel over. To prevent this, cut back shrub roses and other tall summer-flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants. Make sure young trees and shrubs are tied carefully and firmly to stakes that are also firm in the ground.

Plant and move

The soil is still warm and moist in early autumn and plants love this. It’s a great time to divide large clumps of perennials to make more plants and this is the best time to put in bare-root plants, if you’ve been thinking about fruit trees and bushes.

My pots of pelargoniums are still flowering madly but I’ll soon be planting up some autumn/winter pots. I love Sarcococca confusa, the Christmas box, with its dark-green leaves and tiny, highly scented cream flowers. I’ll also use heather and skimmia. And bright cyclamen.

Now is also the time to plant bright and cheerful spring-flowering bulbs, such as crocus and daffodils. Put them in the lawn or in pots.

Wait until late November to plant tulips. I’m a convert to this wonderful bulb and I’m delighted with the show that a few pots of them can make in the spring.

apdo organised autumn garden tulip

Take time to wonder and admire

There’s plenty to do but do take the time to admire your garden and your hard work. Work steadily, as and when you can, and the garden will continue to bring you delight as the seasons turn.

If you are looking for a professional organiser to help you organise your shed and outdoor spaces for autumn, you can find your local professional organiser here

APDO blog - organised travel

The Holiday Afterglow

Imagine this: you are returning from a wonderful time away from home. Whether you have been relaxing on the beach or hiking on some distant mountain, on your own or with family, there are certain things you’ll REALLY need to do before you start enjoying the afterglow. Tilo Flache, founder of Brighton-based professional organising company ClutterMeister, explains…

Your luggage

Whatever type of trip you return from, near or far, you’ll be faced with a luggage which holds a mixed mess of clothing, books, phone chargers, souvenirs, papers, pens and, depending of your holiday destination, a quantity of mud and sand. What you won’t find in there, though, is joy! Even if you are someone who loves packing before a trip, nobody likes to handle the mess you return with.

However, there is something to be said for taking care of the luggage right away! I hear you say “but I want to enjoy that holiday feeling some more! I’ll take care of that later”, and I would answer “I hear you.” Sadly, one of the most annoying things in the world is stuff sitting around for longer than necessary. Sooner rather than later you’ll need something in that luggage. The question is simple: would you rather find your phone charger in its proper spot or dig for it inside your disorganised luggage, creating even more mess in the process?

laundry unpacking organising

It only takes a moment to put all your clothes in the washing basket and you’ll find you are left with just a couple of items that can be quickly returned to their regular spot. Once that’s done, you’ll have one more reason to enjoy that holiday feeling.

Your car

If you’ve spent an extended amount of time in your car, a lot of things may have accumulated: the passenger space alone will now suddenly contain Tupperware, plastic bottles and packaging, rubbish in a bag, stuff that fell to the floor, wayward toys, and stray pieces of clothing. And that is without considering all the dust, mud or sand everyone has dragged in during the trip. Any constricted space we live inevitably fills up with the debris of life.

Do you want to be reminded of that task every time you step into your car? Probably not. There’s something to be said about making enough time to clear the mess before you start using your car again for regular runs.

Here’s a simple recipe to make your car ship-shape again:

  • bring a rubbish bag and a box for items to take into the house
  • extract the surplus contents from car
  • separate into the bag or the box
  • do NOT put the box down until you have returned everything to its rightful place!
  • clean car, if necessary – which it probably will be!

 

On a general note, many cars really should be classified as moving clutter boxes. The next time you go to your car, take a good look around and consider some of the thoughts above. You might just find that there is a lot of clutter in your car that you could easily do without. Give it a go!

Your home

Once you have taken care of everything you brought back with you, maybe it’s time to look after your house as well. Even though leaving it empty for a while does not make it any worse for wear, you may want to give it a quick once-over. Keep your eyes, ears and nose open during this process. You’ll probably find nothing, but it will avoid surprises later. Having someone take care of your home while you are away is good, but they may not have been as thorough in their visits as they intended.

organised entrance hallway decluttered

Another thing you may want to keep in mind when returning home: you are in a unique position to detect things that may have slipped your attention before you left! Remember that feeling when you arrived at your vacation spot, when everything felt airy and open, empty and clutter-free?

Take a moment to become aware of spaces in your home that need attention because you may just see them in a different light now that you have been away. There is no need to get going there and then,  just take note of anything that seems off, and schedule a time to take care of it in the future.

Catching up with everyone

Finally, the most important lesson of all: once you have taken care of these little tasks, make time to arrive properly. Enjoy the fact that – except doing your laundry – there are no residual tasks related to your return home. Sit down, lean back and breathe.

This is the time to meet your friends and family, talk about your adventures, keep the relaxed feeling of being away from the daily routine going for another while. Listen to others’ tales of what has happened during your absence, and leave whatever you do for a living out of the equation for as long as you can. A vacation does not start and end at your front door, you can decide if that is the case.

Or you could decide that your vacation is not quite done yet…

If you have returned from your summer holidays and think you’d like a little help to get your home organised, you can find your local professional organiser here.

APDO Swedish Death Cleaning decluttering organising

Death cleaning: The six basic principles

Have you heard of Swedish Death Cleaning? In this post, Filipa do Carmo of Khora Space Sorted reviews Margareta Magnusson’s book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” and explains how it works.

The six basic principles of Swedish Death Cleaning

If you found true joy in Marie Kondo’s decluttering tactics, then it’s very likely that you’ll fall in love with Margareta Magnusson’s new book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”. The title might be somewhat off-putting, but this system is much more focused on the “gentle” side, rather than on “death”.

Death cleaning is what Swedish people do when they retire or slow down their working lives and have more time to deal with all the possessions they have accumulated over their lifetime. It’s about getting rid of the stuff they don’t need, so that their descendants don’t have to deal with it all.

In the author’s own words “it is a term that means removing unnecessary things and making your home nice and orderly when you think the time is coming closer for you to leave the planet.”

Margareta Magnusson is a Swedish artist “between her 80th and 100th birthdays”, who studied at the Beckman College of Design. A mother of five, she has lived all over the world including Singapore and Hong Kong. Her debut book is a New York Times Bestseller.

Here are my top six lessons from the book, although I would recommend getting a copy, reading it and then passing it on to someone who might also benefit from reading it.

1  It’s not sad

Simplifying your life and making your day-to-day life easier should never be considered sad. Margareta has a wickedly dry sense of humour, so by reading her book you’re most likely to approach the whole process from a lighter perspective.

She also takes pragmatism to its most sublime when she writes things like “Some people can’t get their heads around death. And these people leave a mess after them. Did they think they were immortal?”

2  Be gentle

Having said that, it’s also important to recognise that this won’t be the most cheerful task you’ve ever done. It’s important to be really kind to yourself throughout the process.

You will also find that the more you do it, the easier it will become and the less time it will take. The “practice makes perfect” principle applies seamlessly in this instance.

3  No time to rush

Unlike Kondo, Margareta’s approach relies on taking time to go through all your possessions and decide what to do with them. This is a slow journey taken over a long period of time. This means that you can work at your own pace and think well about what you want to do with the things you own. You can distribute them amongst your family and friends if you’re downsizing. Or, for things you are keeping, you can label them with instructions so that people know what to do with them when you’re no longer here.

Another important aspect is that death cleaning is a state of mind. You don’t have to wait until you’re 65 to start. The sooner you start, the easier it will be. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all the things you have, this a practice that you can start now, regardless of your age.

APDO blog Swedish Death Cleaning decluttering organising empty armchair window

4  Think legacy

One thought that might help you throughout the process is that death cleaning will make life so much easier for your loved ones. By discarding your things and taking full responsibility for what you own, you will not only feel empowered, but you will also be leaving only good memories and valuable references for your family. Grieving is painful; anything we can do to make it better will be highly appreciated.

Margareta has done a lot of death cleaning for her family and her testimonials of those experiences help us understand the importance of this practice.

During the process, keep asking yourself “Will this object give happiness to anyone I know?”.

5  Leave the best to last

As with Kondo, the best way to proceed is to start with the things that will be easier to part with. Your kitchen is a good place to start. You will probably have more plates than you need, duplicates and gadgets you rarely use. These are all good to donate.

“You may even have forgotten what it is you have there. Good for you, because you will now realize that you will not miss anything if you throw it away.”

Photos, personal letters and other memoirs should be saved for last. Margareta’s rule of thumb is to shred photos if you don’t know the name of the people in them. Also, she has scanned photos from her children, saved them on a memory stick and given each of them one for Christmas. Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

Pile of black and white photographs to be organised

6  Tell

Finally, it’s good to be up front about this process and tell the people around you know what you are doing and why. It will be easier to get the help you need and to find new homes for your unwanted objects. It’s also a good way to share the fond memories associated with some of these objects and an object with a story to tell always has special value.

If this post has inspired you to start with your own death cleaning or decluttering process, you can find your nearest professional organiser here.

staging your home for sale red front door

Staging your home for sale

Selling your home can be an emotional and long process. Professional organiser Zoe Berry of Life / Edit shares her home staging tips in this blog post, to help make the process as stress free as possible.

Selling your house is well known to be one of life’s most stressful experiences, so anything you can do to ease the process must be a good thing. Home staging is something which is a standard part of the home selling process in some places (like north America) but here in the UK we are only just learning what a difference it can make both in terms of the speed of sale and profit you can make from your home. It’s amazing to think that buyers form an opinion in your home in around 10 seconds of walking in the door, so with that in context it’s incredibly important to make the right first impression. I recently staged a home for sale in Dundee and with a few tweaks and a keen eye, the property achieved 10% more than the pre-staging evaluation, and I only spent approx. 1% of the sale price on the changes.

Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your property when you are selling:

Start with your kerb appeal

There’s no point spending ages making the inside of your house look desirable if the outside isn’t up to the same standard.  It’s important to make your home as eye-catching as possible from as soon as potential buyers first see it. So tidy up plants and lawns, give the front door a lick of paint and make sure your door furniture is looking super shiny.

Declutter and depersonalise

The most important thing you can do to showcase your home to its best standard is to declutter, as many people simply cannot see past someone else’s possessions. It is important that buyers can imagine themselves living in your house which is more difficult if your surfaces are full of your family photos and mementos. One or two carefully chosen pictures and ornaments are great – you don’t want it to look stark, of course.  Cast your eye around and check that your surfaces and floorspaces are clear.

Check your flooring

What state are your carpets in? Are they patterned and dated? Or have they worn and need to be replaced? What about your wooden floors? Do they need to be re-varnished? Remember the more jobs people mentally tot up in their heads when looking round a property, the more likely they are to be put off from making an offer.

organised entrance hallway decluttered

Is your décor up to date?

When selling your home it’s best to consider a neutral palate. That crazy feature wallpaper might be your taste, but to appeal to the widest possible cross section of people it’s best to go sophisticated. A subtle background means that people can imagine their belongings in your home more easily. Make sure that curtains and blinds are in good condition and fit properly. Long curtains can make windows feel larger and blinds can be a good option for replacing dated curtains as low cost.

Check each room one at a time

Hall

Buy a new doormat for your porch and clear all the usual shoes, coats and bikes away. A top tip for the hall is to hang a mirror on the wall to bounce light around.

Sitting room

Really look at your furniture placement. Yes, that might be where you have always had that chair but could it be repositioned to show the room off more? Make sure your sofas are in good condition and brighten them up with some new cushions. Clear magazines and books off shelves and from under coffee table and put back only what looks good: a few mags on the table and some carefully chosen pieces on the shelves.

APDO - staging your home for sale decluttering organising kitchen

Dining Room

Consider how your dining table looks with no one seated at it. A runner and a bowl of fruit or some flowers make it look inviting. Make sure you show the room size off as much as possible. If this means playing about with the positioning of furniture then do!

Bathrooms

When decluttering and depersonalising, all the same rules apply to your bathroom as elsewhere in your home . For a bathroom it’s also key to clear away any ‘functional’ items such as cleaning products, toilet brushes, weighing scales and toothpaste and toothbrushes. Update even a tired looking bathroom with fresh new towels, well-chosen toiletries and fix anything that needs updating such as grout/sealant etc. This way you show the buyer the potential of your bathroom without breaking the bank.

Bedrooms

Make sure you bed is in the right position to show buyers the proportions of your bedroom. Declutter and stage the room channelling  ‘nice hotel room’ i.e. make sure the bedding is clean, ironed and the bed made well. Make sure your bedside tables and dressing tables are clear, with just a few photos and carefully chosen possessions on show which compliment the décor.

Kids’ stuff

Children’s toys should be sifted through and, although you can’t disappear all of them, a large amount should be put away for when buyers are viewing.

APDO staging your home for sale organising decluttering playroom

Appeal to all the senses

Make sure you home is warm enough, clean and as bright and cheerful as you can make it. If it’s a dull day and your house is dark, make sure you have replaced lightbulbs. If you have a pet you need to eliminate any associated odours by washing upholstery, cleaning carpets and using air fresheners and giving the house a good airing.

And finally

You are trying to make your home seem uncluttered, have plenty of storage but also loved and lived in. It’s a fine balance and it’s a difficult one to achieve when it is your own home – which is why you might consider employing a professional organiser who specialises in home staging. It will be totally worth it when your house sale goes through. Happy selling!

If Zoe’s post has inspired you to stage your home for sale you can find more information about your local professional organiser here.

organised travel holiday organising seashell APDO

How to make the most of your holiday

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining and our thoughts will soon be turning to summer holidays. Tilo Flache, The ClutterMeister, shares his thoughts on getting the most out of your travels… and being organised, of course!

Travelling is all about experiencing things differently

Living life quietly in your home is a lovely state of affairs, but there is a danger of getting stuck in routines. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but getting into the habit of always having things your way can prevent you from moving forward and applying changes when it becomes obvious that your way no longer works to your best advantage.

This holds true as much for your physical environment at home or at work, as it does for your mental agility. Doing the same thing, the same way, at the same time gets engrained into your being and occasionally needs shaking up to see things from another angle. That’s what a vacation is for!

Being exposed to new influences, be they different ways of living, meeting different people, staying in a different space for a while, will ideally show you things and spawn ideas that you never knew you had in you. It may take a moment to unchain your mind from your daily routine, but it is worth it.

One good way to ensure that you make the most of your trip is to disconnect your mind from home BEFORE you even leave. It is a good idea to leave as much of your regular life behind as you can: after all, you are on a vacation! That not only means that you want to take a day or two to transition from a busy work life to a more relaxed state of being before you leave, but also to separate the necessary from the normal and pack your bags accordingly.

APDO blog - organised travel

It’s not so much what you take with you, but what you pick up on the way

What does that mean? For one thing, don’t start from the assumption that you will need the same things on your trip that you would have at arm’s length when you are at home. Make room in your mind to quickly adapt to the circumstances you find at your destination, or during your journey.

Part of that process is to define what you expect from your holiday: is it interaction with others, peace and quiet, exposure to culture, a fortnight of partying? This knowledge will impact what you really need to pack. Of course, you’ll need to pack the basics, but does it really matter if you have a coordinated wardrobe for a beach holiday? Is it important to have a pretty shirt to wear just in case you enter a high-class establishment while hiking through the backwater jungles of Ecuador?

Give yourself the freedom to be different from the person you are at home and don’t get too upset over the thought that you might have wanted another piece of clothing you left at home. Work with what you have, and if all fails, add something local to your wardrobe; a small accessory may just make all the difference. Any such thing can even serve as a practical souvenir in the long run (hint!).

Similar consideration should be given to anything else you take with you besides your clothes: is it really necessary to take all those electronic devices? How many books are you really likely to read? How many toys does your child really need on the road? How much stuff can you leave behind rather than take just in case it might turn out to be useful? Make your choices before you leave and do not leave them for later.

Taking less luggage with you and adjusting your mind to stick with ‘what I’ve got’ rather than ‘what I want/need’ is ultimately the most wonderful start of a holiday. It’s an instant switch from daily routine to the exceptional state of holiday spirit. You’ll be more prepared to experience properly what’s going on around you, to relax and to enjoy your time away from it all. You’ll also be more receptive to noticing things around you and considering incorporating them into your life, perhaps bringing a positive change to your daily routine.

organised travel beach holiday organising APDO

Post-travel check-in with yourself

Many of us pack for all eventualities, and return with a suitcase half full of unused clothes, while at the same time having worn the hell out of that one pair of shorts because they were comfy. What does that tell you? You didn’t pack for the occasion after all!

It may feel strange, and you may not think you want to do this, but maybe you can spend 10 minutes looking at the items in your luggage after you return. That could simply take the form of you laying out all the items in your luggage to two sides: ‘used’ and ‘unused’, and taking a picture of the arrangement for future reference and as a reminder of where you may have gone wrong. Take note of what you used and what you didn’t. Maybe even ask yourself why you didn’t.

If anything, packing for a holiday is an exercise in avoiding any thought of ‘just in case’: ‘Maybe I’ll need this’ is the worst advisor for holiday packing, and even worse a notion for keeping things in your home. Learning how to overcome this urge on a vacation might just be the highway to happiness when it comes to stop cluttering up your attic, your garage, your cupboards…

Returning home also gives you a fresh perspective on what you have got used to, and you may end up wanting to make some changes to your home. By all means: go ahead!

If Tilo’s post has inspired you to get organised before your holidays, you can find your local professional organiser here.

 

San Francisco 18th International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering

Studying in San Francisco: The 18th International Conference on Hoarding & Cluttering

Cherry Rudge (Rainbow Red), Jo Cooke (Hoarding Disorders UK CIC) and Heather Matuozzo (Clouds End CIC) are knowledgeable declutterers. Between them, they have over 20 years’ experience of working with people with extreme cluttering and hoarding problems. They regularly deliver training, coaching and advice to a variety of organisations including housing associations, mental health teams, charities, fire services and social care teams and recently flew transatlantic to further their own professional development and bring their learning back to the UK.

APDO members attend MHASF’s Institute for Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering Conference 2018

For the three of us, the idea of being able to talk about clutter, hoarding and “stuff” for an entire week was heaven.  Forget about drugs, sex and rock and roll – clutter was the buzz word and we used every opportunity to tell folks what we do and why we were visiting California.

Clinical studies of hoarding disorders began to be published in the USA about 20 years ago, so it was with great excitement that the three of us set out from Heathrow Airport (in the snow) on Monday 19th March 2018 to attend the 18th annual Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) conference on Cluttering and Hoarding – Thinking Outside the Boxes: Innovation in Action.

MHASF is comprised of a diverse team of peers, supporters, advocates, family members, and providers dedicated to taking the peer and recovery to the next level.

The conference was held at the University of California, Berkeley, and was attended by over 100 people from across the USA and Canada, including clinicians, peer group members, social workers, people with hoarding behaviours, housing officials and professional organisers – all as passionate and as keen to expand our knowledge of the subject as we are!

Training day

Wednesday’s fascinating training day was by Dr Michael A. Tompkins (author of “Digging Out” and “The Clinician’s Guide to Severe Hoarding – A Harm Reduction Approach”), and covered the basics of two major topics important to anyone working directly with clients dealing with hoarding challenges: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement.

Interestingly, Dr Tompkins believes that (a) change is a state, not a trait, and (b) it is depression that underlies hoarding behaviours, with loss triggers being secondary to that.

hoarding conference organise declutter

Heather Matuozzo, Dr Michael A. Tompkins (author of “Digging Out”), Cherry Rudge and Jo Cooke,,

Day One

Day one of the conference opened with a wonderful keynote address – “DisordR, The Play”, a solo show brilliantly written and performed by Hilary Kacser, an actor who had travelled from Washington DC. It was very clever to start the discussions using visual creative art-based interpretation, devised by a person with lived experience, who also works in the theatre.

The play introduced us to self-confessed hoarder Pakrat Patty, and used humour to illuminate mental health, and the interactions with people who she met during her journey to recovery.

There followed several breakout sessions which divided the attendees into four groups:

  1. Public Health
  2. Housing
  3. Stigma
  4. Prevention

Over the two days, the aim of each of these workshops was to find three key areas of concern and then spend two further sessions seeking potential solutions for those concerns.

There were various options for the afternoon sessions on Day One:

  1. Resilience and Overcoming Hoarding, by Satwant Singh (Nurse Consultant in CBT and Mental Health, and a Clinical Lead for a primary care psychological service in London).
  2. Building peer supports on the stages of change continuum – David Bain + peers from MHASF.
  3. Listening and learning from participants in the Help for Hoarding Treatment study – Monka Eckfield (Qualitative PCORI Study, San Francisco). Peer-facilitated support groups used the “Buried in Treasures” work-book over 16 weeks, and therapist-lead CBT groups, which included home visits over the same amount of time.

In the afternoon, we attended the Experience Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) for Hoarding session, presented by Chia-Ying Chou (MHA Therapy Group, San Francisco).  She explored what compassion is – i.e. a sensitivity to suffering and a willingness to try and alleviate it or prevent it – and looked at wisdom, strength, commitment and warmth and the need to use self-compassion.

Meanwhile, the selective sessions we sadly missed were:

  1. It takes a village – Nancy Trout, Prairie View, Winston, Kansas. Discussed how she created a multi-agency taskforce, drawing on every aspect of village life.
  2. Journal writing – the techniques, the purpose the benefits – David Bain – how to keep a hoarding action journal
  3. Legal aspects of hoarding – Kellie Morgantini (Legal Services for Seniors, Monterey, CA)

The evening’s social event gave us the perfect opportunity to network and develop strong relationships with delegates from across the US and Canada.  They were most impressed when we explained how the UK’s annual Hoarding Awareness Campaign has helped increase understanding of hoarding behaviours and reduce the stigma associated with them.

18th International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering

Day Two

Day two started with all three of us attending a breakout session by Donald Davioff and Kay Jewels (McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, MA) – “A Neurocognitive Approach to Hoarding Disorder”.

After an insightful video about the MHASF, the final key-note speech on the final day was “New Developments in Hoarding Research: a novel approach using virtual reality” by Hanna McCabe-Bennett from Ryerson University, Toronto.

Through a series of room images, two groups (individuals with hoarding behaviours and then another group without hoarding behaviours) were tested for their levels of discomfort, versus the levels of items in the room.   In another experiment people were invited to choose as many items as they liked from a virtual reality thrift store (charity shop).  These were then restricted to how many can be fitted into a trolley and then how many of those items could they fit into a bag.

They then changed the mood of the people by reading a script to induce anthropomorphism which, it was found, increased the difficulty for the hoarders in discarding even virtual items.

After a couple of days sightseeing, we returned from San Francisco more inspired than ever, and fired up for UK Hoarding Awareness Week (14th – 18th May 2018) and the National Hoarding Conference on 14th May.  Later in the year we are also looking forward to the International Hoarding, Health & Housing Conference in Edinburgh on 4th October, organised by Life Pod CIC. Hope to see you there, or maybe at the MHASF conference next year!

If you need advice on hoarding or want to find out more about APDO, please visit the APDO website for further information or to find your nearest professional organiser.

house decluttering service

Clear Your Clutter Day: How to reduce the single-use items in your home

MoneyMagpie’s Clear Your Clutter Campaign is a year-round push to get us all to declutter on every level, to make a positive change, gain freedom and reduce stress in our lives. Friday 13th April is National Clear Your Clutter Day 2018, and to mark the occasion, the team at MoneyMagpie are sharing this post about cutting down on single-use plastic in our lives.

How to reduce the single-use items in your home

Cutting down costs often starts with cutting down waste. Many households are filled to the brim with items designed for one-off use. Replacing these single-use items with reusable solutions will save you time, money and is a great way of contributing to the protection of the environment. There aren’t many opportunities to save the planet and save money at the same time, so get involved! Read on to find out the top wasteful items and how to replace them.

Plastic bags

This one is truly a “no-brainer,” especially since supermarkets introduced the 5p carrier bag charge. Depending on how many shops you do, the costs quickly stack up and over a year you could be looking to spend close to £10 on something which destroys the environment and has little benefits for you after its one-off use. Replace plastic carrier bags with a sustainable fabric carrier bag. Usually you can buy these in the supermarkets themselves or get one online. The other advantage to these bags is that they aren’t as flimsy as plastic, so you can fill them to the brim without having to worry that they’ll tear.

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Plastic water bottles

Here are some not-so-fun facts. Only 1 in 5 plastic water bottles is recycled. Plastic water bottles can take between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose. Over twice as much water is used to produce a plastic water bottle than is contained within the water bottle when it is sold. Plus they sap away money unnecessarily, considering the UK is a country where tap water is safe to drink and has more stringent safety checks placed on it than bottled water!

Get yourself a reusable water bottle, which will save you a heap in the long run, stop the endless influx of water bottles lying around the house, and can be a quirky way to express yourself. Speaking of water, here are 12 ways to save on water bills.

Takeaway coffee cups

MPs have recently called for a “latte levy” of 25p to be placed on disposable coffee cups. Brits drink 70 million cups of coffee per day, and a lot of those 70 million cups are single-use paper ones. It’s a huge waste, and they’re not even very handy. It’s easy to burn your hands or spill your drink. Plus, you’ll save money by using a reusable cup::

  • Pret gives customers 50p off hot drinks if they bring a reusable cup
  • Starbucks will give you 25p off
  • Costa will give you 25p off
  • Paul will give you 25p off
  • Greggs will give you 20p off

Want to find out how much you’re spending on coffee, click here.

Plastic straws

Next time you’re at your favourite bar or restaurant, bring your own metal straw! It may seem a little silly at first, but it’s an easy way to reduce the amount of waste you are responsible for, plus it makes any drink look better. You can get them from most high street kitchenware shops, or online. It’s a cheap way to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Disposable razors

This is one which can earn you huge savings over the years. A bag of disposable razors can set you back up to £10. Ladies, you can pick up a solid wet and dry shaver for under £15. Gents, you can get a top quality electrical razor for under £50. Not only will you save big by cutting out disposable razors, you’ll also have a far more efficient and quick shave! Look good and do good at the same time.

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Food packaging

So much fruit and veg comes pre-packaged by nature – it doesn’t need to be wrapped in plastic. Andy Clarke, the former boss of Asda, has called on supermarkets to stop using plastic packaging, saying most of it won’t ever make it to a recycling site. Even if supermarkets continue to use plastic to wrap almost everything, you can do your bit by trying to buy plastic-free. Apples don’t need to be sold in a plastic bag, nor does broccoli. If you can’t find these items unwrapped, try shopping at your local market instead. You’ll be supporting your local community and doing your bit for the environment.

If this post has inspired you to start decluttering for Clear Your Clutter Day, you can find out more about the campaign here, or find your local professional organiser on the APDO Find An Organiser page

APDO conference 2018 professional organisers

APDO Conference 2018: A review

It’s been an exciting four weeks for APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers. Not only was there the creation of Spring Clearing Week between 24-30 March (a brand new public awareness week focused on decluttering and streamlining home and life), but that came hot on the heels of the APDO annual conference, held on 15 & 16 March.

The conference was a sell-out and was wholeheartedly enjoyed by the attendees, who included national and international APDO members and professionals from international associations. There was a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers, lively workshops on diverse topics, a Q&A session with experienced professional organisers, networking opportunities and fun socials. In a nutshell, this was two days of learning and sharing with a vibrant community of organising experts, who have endless passion for their jobs.

Kate Galbally (Better Organised) provides this blog based on what she took away from the event and it sums up the ‘feel good factor’ of the event.

Your message needs to be bigger than your fear!

The headline above was the rallying call from visibility strategist Ruby McGuire (Rock Your Fabulous Biz) on day one of the annual conference for the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers in London. What followed was motivation and inspiration with keynote speeches, plenary sessions and workshops delivered by industry-leaders from across the globe.

Perhaps you’re wondering what professional organisers found to talk about for two days? Or maybe you’re thinking about starting up your own decluttering business but haven’t yet taken the leap. I’ve rounded up some of the main takeaways from the event.

The culture of positivity

On arrival at the venue, Resource for London, it was immediately apparent that the people that I’d only ever interacted with online were just as friendly, welcoming and supportive in person. The inclusive and collaborative nature of the members shone through and the place was soon buzzing with introductions and conversations. There is definitely a collective drive and enthusiasm to learn more about how we can enhance the offerings to clients, whilst developing professionally and nurturing our businesses. The positivity was infectious!

How the industry is growing

APDO was formed in 2004 and now has 281 accredited members, but the statistic that really stood out was that the membership has grown by a third in the last year alone. It is so exciting to be part of such a rapidly growing industry – it is particularly reassuring to be sharing the journey with a thriving community of such professional and supportive business owners.

APDO Conference 2018 professional organisers

The breadth and depth of professional skills and services available to clients

Life coaching, counselling, interior design, social work, housing, law, PAs – one theme that struck me was that the organisers I spoke to all seem to have spent their working lives in roles that have primarily been about supporting other people. Now they use their expertise to help clients on a practical and emotional level by assisting them to get better organised.

From empathetic and long-term assistance for people with ADHD or hoarding tendencies, to hands-on help for people who are clearing out a loved one’s belongings after a bereavement, the ways in which organisers help their clients are many and varied. It was so fascinating to hear others’ stories of what has led them into this field of work.

How perfectly the content was tailored to the audience

Leslie Josel (Order Out of Chaos) delivered a powerful keynote speech about demystifying executive functions and ADHD. One key point she made was that understanding how your clients think is the only way to instill change. Well, the voluntary board at APDO had clearly understood the way their members think, as they had identified topics that are at the forefront of their members’ minds. We were spoiled for choice when it came to workshops, with topics including how to film and edit compelling footage on smartphones, the development of business workshops and webinars, supercharging social media content, readiness for GDPR and how to declutter your business ideas to avoid burnout.

What I’ll do next

I’ve already done it! I’ve cleared my diary to make sure that I will be attending next year’s conference.

APDO conference 2019

I love being part of this industry and seeing the growth that my business has achieved already. Working alongside my clients is satisfying and rewarding and as Cassie Tillett (Working Order) the founder of APDO has said, ‘When you know you’ve made a positive difference in someone else’s life, there’s no other feeling like it!’

 

If you’re not an APDO member but are interested in being part of the community, you can find out more here. Also keep an eye on the events page for upcoming campaigns.

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You’re ready to declutter. So where do you start?

Guest blog author Jules Langford runs Cluttered to Cleared specialising  in virtual decluttering and offers the “30 Days to a New Clutter-Free You”, a unique combination of an online e-course with 1-2-1 skype and email support.  She can work with clients all over the UK.

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You know you need to declutter…

You’ve set some time aside

You’ve even stocked up on bin bags!

Now you just need to decide where to start.

So how about starting in…

  • The bedroom. After all, you’re fed up of the place being used as a dumping ground, and it would be much easier to get a good night’s sleep in a calm and clutter-free room.
  • On second thoughts, wouldn’t it be better to start in a room guests see, like the sitting room? And think of those relaxing evenings after dinner with your feet up, once it’s cleared.  Lovely!  But until…
  • The kitchen is sorted out, there won’t be any relaxing evenings anyway. Making dinner in such a cluttered environment takes far too long.  So maybe that would be the best place to start.  And you can get that healthy eating regime under way…
  • Then again, if you cleared the basement, think of all that useful storage you would gain. After all, the stuff from upstairs has got to go someone where…

By this time, you probably feel totally worn out.  And all without having decluttered so much an unpaired sock. But never mind, there’s always next week…

So where SHOULD you start?

The bottom line is it doesn’t matter so much where you start – just that you do.  See looking for that perfect starting point for what it is – a form of procrastination. Otherwise, you will be going round and round like a hamster on a wheel forever and a day.

Still craving a starting point? Consider the options below:

  • The room that’s bothering you most. What room is causing you the most hassle day-to-day?  The stress caused by a cluttered, chaotic room can’t be underestimated.  You don’t have to be in it, you’ve only to think about and it drags you down. Just think how great it would be to get that cleared, a real weight off your shoulders.
  • The room you would enjoy most if it was clutter free. Maybe your yen is for a bathroom that is more spa than swamp.  Or a bedroom that is more a sweet dream than nightmare.  Don’t let clutter stand between you and your bliss.  Your home is to be enjoyed, not endured.
  • One small area – build your confidence. If a whole room is too daunting – downsize your decluttering!   Be it clearing off the dining room table, the kitchen junk drawer, or maybe the overflowing coat hooks on the hall, this is the little difference that makes a lot of difference. And one thing always leads to another…

So make a decision –  and then make a start.  Because the sooner you, the sooner the clutter will be cleared.

If you need help to clear a path through the overwhelm, an APDO member in your local area would love to help. Search here.

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Clear Your Clutter For A Tidy Profit

On Saturday 11 March, Jasmine Birtles, founder of self help money site Money Magpie is running the second ever UK National Clear Your Clutter Day. She will be encouraging people all over the UK to declutter their homes – and their lives – to gain freedom, space and a useful pile of cash! In this guest blog, she shares some of her tips for making money out of the junk that households don’t need anymore.

clear your clutter day
APDO members probably know better than most just how much junk the average home has.Of course, professional organisers are not generally expected to sell their clients’ goods, but it’s worth being aware of what some items could be worth if they were sold.

Happily there are now a few more outlets that will help to sell items quicker than you might expect, so with some of the junk at least, your client can get it out of the door and make some money all in one go.

Here are a few ideas for making money from the different types of junk that clients have finally decided to throw out:

DVDs, CDs and more?

Now is the time to make money by selling these as the market for them will only decrease with time as more and more people download them or subscribe to streaming services like Netflix.

If your client has shelves full of lovely old programmes, films and concerts they could be making instant cash from them through sites like Zapper and Ziffit If they have a lot of items the company will generally arrange to collect them for free. If there are just a few books and CDs they can send them for free.

It’s quick to upload the details and you get an instant quote for everything and either a payment through PayPal or a cheque in the post in a few days time.

Vintage and antique items

Here’s where your clients could potentially make some sensible money. Even if the family heirlooms were bought on the pier at Blackpool back in the day, your client could be pleasantly surprised at how much they might get now.

Collectibles often sell well on eBay. Find out how much you might get by putting the name or description of your collectible into the search bar and then clicking on ‘sold’ on the left-hand sidebar. You will see how much similar items went for. You’re often best uploading things on a ‘Buy It Now’ basis rather than auction in order to get the best price.

For more valuable items try the local auction house. Most of them have on-site specialists who can advise on a myriad of collectibles and minor antiques and will usually provide you with free verbal valuations.

If your client thinks they have something really valuable, email or send a picture and description of it to Sotheby’s, Christies or Bonhams in London. They will come back to them with a valuation.

Sometimes, a few items aren’t worth selling on their own at an auction house but they could be sold in one lot. Ask the auctioneers if this would be an option

Get rid of old gadgets

You’d be surprised at how much you can get for some gadgets, even if they’re ‘ancient’ technology or broken. There’s a growing market for gadgets of all sorts as you can see in this article.

It can be worth getting the client to search around on eBay for how much broken versions of their old gadgets are selling for and then either uploading them individually or selling them as a job lot on the site.

Mobiles
Your client can make money by recycling their old mobile phones. Even battered, ancient ones can be recycled for parts. You can make up to £200 for good ones, particularly iPhones. Try the mobile phone recycling tool here on MoneyMagpie.com [http://www.moneymagpie.com/make-money/make-money-recycle-mobile-cash] to find the best deal.

Printer cartridges
A few companies will pay for old printer cartridges. Cash for Cartridges for example will pay you £4.50 per item.

Odd electronic bits
Sometimes people sell a bundle of wires, adapters, odd bits of electronics that nobody recognises which are bought by enthusiasts or engineers who need the parts. Put them in a box and upload a picture with a description of the contents to eBay.co.uk and see what you get. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Selling alternatives

eBay is a wonderful resource for people needing to de-junk, but a few other sites are worth considering too.

 Facebook Groups
The best thing about Facebook Groups where you can sell items is that they are free. They’re local so you’re generally selling to people who are not too far away and that makes them handy for large items like furniture. But people are selling anything and everything on them, so it’s worth seeing what is available in your clients’ areas.

Gumtree
Again, Gumtree is local and, often, free. You have to be aware of the fraudsters that lurk there – rather like Craigslist in America – but as it has been going for so long, there are still a lot of people who look there first for certain items like cars and furniture.

Let everyone know about Clear Your Clutter Day where you can see some APDO members talking about how to declutter, how to organise and how to do it all on the cheap! If you need a helping hand to motivate you through feelings of overwhelm or provide a structured plan, find a local professional organiser.