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APDO Redecorating

Re-decorating your newly decluttered space

You’ve decluttered, you’ve reorganised and you are almost completely happy with the end result; but something is not quite right. You may find that after doing a big declutter your space has become a more relaxing and attractive place to be, but needs some re-decorating to bring it into its full potential. Below we have compiled some tips for redesigning your space in order to capture the newly found tranquillity and practicality of the room.

  1. Design your organisational systems first

While picking out new furniture and accessories can be the best part of re-decorating, start with your organisational systems first, so that you don’t design yourself into a corner. For example, if you have decided you no longer want to have a chest of drawers in the room think about where you will put the items that are currently in it. Will you need some open shelving on the walls? Some decorative baskets in the corner? Have a really good think about how you’re going to re-jig the items in the room so that you’re not left with a pile of items with no home.

  1. Use natural materials and colours to promote tranquillity

If you’re hoping to keep the feeling of a calm, organised space, natural materials should be used over plastics and other man-made items. Wools, linen, cotton and wood will give your room that spa-like softness that many people are looking for. It’s essentially the same with colour. Be careful with bold colours as they can stimulate a subconscious response in your brain, making it hard to relax in your space. Colour is a great way to inject some of your personality into a room, but pair them with more neutral, relaxing colours to water them down a bit. If you don’t have an eye for design, it can be very helpful to create a mood board with natural materials as a reminder when you are shopping for the room.

  1. Trendy accessories tend to end up as clutter

When it comes to putting the final touches on your design, it is important to remember not to go too crazy on the accessories. Staged homes and bedroom set-ups in department stores often have little statues and trinkets sprinkled around. While they do look nice in a de-personalised space, in a real home these will end up collecting dust and getting donated several years later. This is the perfect opportunity to put things on show that you saved during your decluttering sessions. Putting up photos that never made it to a frame, displaying your souvenirs from trips you’ve been on and your children’s hand-made gifts can be great finishing touches to a space. House plants and a candle or two are also good accessories that add to a room without being overbearing.

  1. One final declutter

At this point you’ve probably already spent a lot of time decluttering, and maybe the thought of it isn’t that exciting to you. However, once you have your new space there may be things that you were unsure about keeping that you realise you no longer need. You can do this as you unpack your things back into the room so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Once it’s all done and put away, light a few candles and snuggle up with a good book to enjoy your brand new oasis.

The most important thing to remember when you’re decluttering, organising or re-decorating is that your space should work for you. You should be trying to create a room that is both functional and personal. If you follow the above tips, you should be able to create the best space for you and your family.

If you’re interested in re-designing a room but need some help decluttering first, check out our Find an Organiser page to find organisers near you!

Krista Thompson

Article written by APDO Blog Manager Krista Thompson (Zen Den Oxford

APDO Organised Shelves

5 top tips on making the most of your storage

There has been a lot of buzz recently around decluttering, and how we can improve our homes and mental health by letting go of what we don’t need anymore. While the charity shops fill up and we’re left with only what we need, some of us are left feeling a little lost on how to organise what is left. Have no fear, as Lynda Wylie (Tidy Rooms) is here with her top tips on how to make the most of your storage!

There are 3 golden rules for buying storage which I always share with my clients from the beginning:

  1. Never buy storage until after you’ve decluttered – You’ve just gotten rid of a bunch of things you don’t need anymore, don’t add more!
  2. Store items where you will use them – Not only will items be easier to find, but it’s much easier to put them back.
  3. Label everything – You’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily.

Now you’re ready to organise, what type of storage do you look for? Aside from your personal style and taste, you’ll need storage that neatly contains your things and allows you to retrieve them without frustration.  Here are some tips for some of the most common areas that benefit from an organised touch:

Inside drawers

Drawer dividers allow you to group similar items together such as tights and underwear so the contents don’t get mixed up. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get organised in your drawers though; shoe boxes and other empty boxes such as phone boxes and toiletry gift sets are perfect at doing the job. File folding clothes and standing them upright in a drawer allows you to see everything available, as opposed to piling things on top of one another. As an added bonus, it is easy to slot things back in when it’s time to put the washing away.

On the wall

Using the wall to maximise storage potential is often overlooked, but shelving and hooks can really transform a cluttered area. They’re a simple and effective way to keep things off the floor and provide a permanent home to return things after they’ve been used. They are particularly good in hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Use hooks for coats, scarves, kids school bags, work bags, cycle hats and scooters. Shelves with baskets are fantastic for gathering lots of things together that might otherwise end up spread over the floor, such as accessories, hair and make up supplies or stationary.

Under beds

Some people prefer to keep the space under their bed clear, but if you’re short on space, this can be an invaluable storage area when organised well. Shoe bags allow you to keep several pairs in a compartmentalised bag whilst the Ikea Skubb zip bag is great for storing out of season clothes, bedding or your children’s next sized clothing, all dust free. If you don’t have much height under your bed vacuum bags are an essential item. They compress your clothing or bedding to allow them to sit neatly until you need them. If you still need some help learning how to downsize your clothes, check out our blog post on moving towards a minimalist wardrobe.

In the kitchen

Some of the go to products I suggest to clients to help maximise their cupboard storage space, can be found in Lakeland. The 3 most popular products for my clients are:

  1. The expandable shelf organiser, allows you to see what’s stored at the back of a cupboard so ingredients don’t get re-bought
  2. A shelf insert helps you make the most of a tall cupboard
  3. A bakeware organiser allows you to stand your baking trays upright for easy access

An important tip for the kitchen is to keep what you use most often close to the front of the cupboard. Machines and crockery that are only used once or twice a year should be kept at the back of the cupboards or in the spaces that are a bit more awkward to get to. This is because we’re much more likely to spend the effort putting it back once we’re finished with it if we know we don’t need to take it out for a while.

In the loft

Lofts are ideal for things you need infrequently such as Christmas decorations, seasonal sports equipment and suitcases. Storage needs to be dust and moisture proof and sturdy clear boxes with a solid closing mechanism are often the best. Remember not to overfill them or they’ll be too heavy to lift up the stairs and make sure they’re small enough to fit through the hatch! If you want to be extra organised, put a list or map at the entrance so you know what to find where next time you’re looking.

If you need help decluttering and/or organising your space, you can find your nearest professional organiser on our Find an Organiser page! 

APDO clutter

Clutter: out of sight, but not always out of mind

Imagine this: your home is sparkling clean with no clutter in sight, ready for your evening guests. You look around proud of your home, but something is not quite right. Could it be the 10 pairs of shoes, 3 coats, junk mail and broken lamp that you’ve chucked in the spare closet to clear the space? Emily Wapples of Simply Sorted is here to tell us all about why hiding our clutter is not the answer.

We all have that one area of our home where our belongings go to, never to see the light of day again. The area that amazes us with its insatiable storage capacity and which we affectionately refer to as “Narnia”, or “The Tardis”.  Maybe yours is in the loft, under the bed, the spare room, or (for people who don’t live in London) in the garage. These areas are crammed full of things that we no longer use on a regular basis or, possibly, at all. But it’s fine, because at the end of the day, we can close the doors and forget about them. Except, often we don’t.

These items may be out of sight, but they’re not always out of mind. In fact, we mentally and emotionally carry this physical clutter around with us all day, fretting and stressing over how long it will take us to sort it out.

This clutter consumes important brain space and clouds our judgement. We perceive the task to be insurmountable, so we put off trying to tackle it, which encourages negative thought patterns. As a result, we are more likely to procrastinate in making changes in other areas of our lives. While we may be able to escape the physical clutter, it is more difficult to escape its psychological effects. Constantly ruminating on the situation can cause, or contribute to, poor mental health. This in turn can make us increasingly unmotivated to tackle the area and to make those life changes we so desperately crave.

So why don’t people just bite the bullet and tackle their clutter?

The most common reason I’ve heard is that they don’t have time (or at least, they think they don’t). And even if time isn’t so much of an issue, they would (understandably) rather be doing something more interesting. Some may be overwhelmed by the perceived size of the task at hand, while others may just be lacking motivation to get started.

But whatever the reason, help is at hand. You just have to ask for it.

I’ve worked with many clients to help them declutter and organise the problematic areas of their home which they can’t stop worrying about. Some have accumulated belongings over 30 years that are now tightly packed into their loft. While others have unopened boxes of things in their spare room, or under the stairs, left over from a house move.

The intention was never to leave the items in these spaces forever; they were all placed there as a temporary solution, just to keep them out of the way. But months, or years pass and the items remain boxed up (if they’re lucky) behind closed doors.

Clutter breeds clutter.

And not only do those original items stay there, additional pieces join them. Because, once we designate an area as an unofficial “dumping ground” for items we no longer need, want or use, we are more inclined to add to the clutter collection, thereby perpetuating the problem. It may take a few hours to a few days to declutter and organise the area concerned. However, once we’ve finished, clients have overwhelmingly reported that they feel an immense sense of freedom and relief.

The space it creates isn’t limited to square footage.

Clients are able to think more clearly and have the capacity to make decisions and bring about changes in other areas of their lives. They feel empowered to take action; the process often motivates them to declutter other areas of their home or to start that project they’ve been putting off for years. And although it is too simplistic to expect that the process is able to cure mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, it may help to alleviate some of the symptoms; even if the benefits are experienced on a more long term basis.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  • Don’t try to avoid it – Accept that you need to declutter and organise these belongings to bring about positive changes in your life. Yes, the process will be physically and emotionally exhausting, but its benefits will be felt in all aspects of your life going forward.
  • Learn how to recycle – Sometimes the thought of an item ending up in a landfill is the reason people avoid decluttering. To learn about recycling more difficult items, take a look at 6 Ways to Avoid Waste While Decluttering.
  • Enlist help from a supportive friend or family member or, ideally, a professional organiser via the APDO website to help you tackle the area.
  • Break it down into manageable tasks if you are feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project, and take it one task at a time.
  • Speak to your GP if your clutter is causing you to feel anxious, depressed or stressed. You may also want to investigate other strategies for maintaining good mental health such as yoga, mindfulness, exercise and healthy eating.

A picture of Emily Wapples of Simply Sorted

You can learn more about Emily and her business at www.simply-sorted.co.uk 

 

 

Folded clothes.

FASHION FAST: What the #SixItemsChallenge taught us about our relationship with clothes

How many items of clothing do you have in your wardrobe? How many of them do you actually wear? And how much do you care about where they come from?

These are some of the questions two of our APDO members considered recently when they took part in the Labour Behind The Label #SixItemsChallenge earlier this year.  Mel Carruthers of More Organised and Rosie Barron of The Tidy Coo both took part, each choosing six items of clothing from their wardrobes and wearing only these six items for the six weeks of the challenge.

Mel and Rosie were both interested in the aims of Labour Behind the Label, a campaign which works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. Their annual #SixItemsChallenge asks people to embark on a fashion fast, to rethink their wardrobe and really question their shopping habits.  So, when APDO President Katherine Blackler suggested members give it a go, Rosie and Mel both volunteered.

This is what they learned along the way!

Why did you decide to take part in the #SixItemsChallenge?

  • Rosie: I wanted to raise awareness of the impact that fast fashion has on garment workers.
  • Mel: Over the past few years I have tried to keep only items of clothing that I really loved and wore regularly. Having been a fan of Courtney Carver’s #Project333 for several years, the #SixItemsChallenge seemed like a way to challenge my relationship with clothes even further.

What were the clothes that you picked and why?

  • Rosie: Here in Aberdeenshire I live a fairly outdoor life, but I also had two conferences in London to attend during the six weeks, as well as clients to help, so I had to pick clothes that would be warm enough for home, but also smart enough to take away with me. In the end, I chose:
    – a dress I could wear to the conferences and clients
    – a cardigan
    – a jumper
    – a pair of jeans
    – 2 T-shirts

 

6 items of clothes that are file folded

Rosie’s 6 items

  • Mel: Like Rosie, I live in a rural setting so needed “outdoor” clothes as well as outfits suitable for client work and more formal occasions. I chose:
    – a black and white short-sleeved dress
    – a pair of dark skinny jeans
    – a black and white jumper
    – a black long-sleeved T-shirt
    – 2 striped Breton long-sleeve tops

 

Mel's 6 items file folded on the bed

Mel’s 6 items

What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?

  • Rosie: With four home-educated children, 11 horses, five dogs, a cat and poultry, keeping clean was by far the biggest challenge! I went to one business meeting in a damp dress and cardigan…
  • Mel: The challenge was in March/April, as the weather was very changeable. We’d had a warm spell in March when I was choosing my six items which fooled me slightly… later in the challenge it became very cold again and I wished that I had chosen a couple of warmer items for my capsule collection! It made me realise that in our uncertain Scottish climate we need a variety of clothes for different weathers.

What did you learn?

  • Mel: That clothes don’t interest me as much as I had thought. The relief of not having to choose what I was going to wear each morning saved so much time and stress – it was so freeing to simply grab what was clean out of the six items, get dressed and get on with my day!
  • Rosie: My experience was the opposite! I realised that I care for clothes more than I thought I did, and that I like wearing dresses.

Were you surprised at this?

  • Rosie: Yes, I always had myself down as someone who wasn’t bothered about clothes and I was surprised by how much I missed some of them.
  • Mel: I was surprised too. I love pretty things and trying on clothes when out shopping. So it was a real epiphany for me to realise that I don’t need lots of clothes to make myself feel good, and that beating “decision fatigue” when getting dressed in the morning really made up for any feelings of deprivation that I was expecting to have.
4 side-by-side pictures of Rosie wearing a combination of her 6 items.

Rosie wearing 4 combinations of her 6 items.

How has the #SixItemsChallenge changed your view of your own wardrobe and shopping habits? Will you be doing anything differently now?

  • Rosie: I ended up updating my wardrobe a bit after it. Having to use only six items really made me consider how each item in my wardrobe worked with all the others. For someone who usually only shops once or twice a year, this was out of character! Apart from that, I will continue as I was before, buying quality over quantity and keeping my shopping to once or twice a year.
  • Mel: I thought that I had a fairly minimal wardrobe (about 40 items in my wardrobe and another 30 stored under the bed for better weather/a thinner Mel). The challenge helped me to decide what I really loved out of those items, and I donated the rest. I then shopped for a few more items to really complete my wardrobe and make it work better… but I did it all from local charity shops and eBay. I have definitely changed my shopping habits after learning more about the distress and waste of our society’s addiction to fast fashion and I don’t want to be part of it.

How has the challenge helped you to better support your clients?

  • Mel: I have done a few wardrobe sessions with clients since completing the challenge, and I have been able to share my experience with them which has led to some interesting conversations! At the end of the day though, our clothes say so much about us and are such a personal choice, that I will still coach my clients through their decluttering journey, rather than dictate to them based on my own feelings about clothes and fashion. But I hope that through my experience, I can raise awareness of the misery and destruction of fast fashion and help people to make better choices.
  • Rosie: I think it has made me more aware of how some people view their clothes. I am not sure I have the skill to help clients rebuild their wardrobe after a declutter, but fortunately I can refer them to someone who I trust to help them. I know my limitations!

Mel & Rosie’s’ 6 ways to beat fast fashion:

1.      Buy pre-loved clothing – charity shops, eBay and social media are rich picking grounds!

2.      Share with and borrow from friends – especially for clothes for one-off occasions.

3.      Pass children’s clothing to others when they outgrow them.

4.      Buy quality over quantity, focusing on more ethical brands.

5.      Hold a clothes swap evening with your friends.

6.      Develop your own style and rely less on the media to tell you what to wear.

If you would like to find out more about Labour Behind The Label and the #SixItemsChallenge, head to their website at www.labourbehindthelabel.org  Perhaps you could sign up to the challenge next year!

Feeling inspired by this post, but need some help with the process? Visit our Find an Organiser page to find support near you.

Recycle Logo

6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering

After several generations of accumulation and prosperous consumerism behind us, decluttering and minimalism is on the rise. With climate change and plastic reduction a normal part of our everyday thoughts, items getting added to landfills are becoming a hurdle for people looking to have less. Professional organiser Jodi Sharpe from The 25th Hour in Inverness is here with her top tips on avoiding waste while decluttering.

One of the statements I frequently hear from people who get in touch with me for help on the decluttering front is that “I can’t part with xxx, as it’s just so wasteful”. We’ve all done it; made that irrational, unnecessary purchase, left a piece of clothing with its tag still on at the back of the wardrobe or “lost” a sauce in the cupboard only to find it passed its use by date! We often hold onto things because we feel guilt that it is somehow wasteful, but leaving items to collect dust in your home is wasteful because they could be getting used by someone else. So here are my 6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering by passing on your items:

1 – SHARE & BORROW

Loaning an item can save both space (from storage), time (for upkeep and maintenance) and money (initial purchase). Things like drills, a car roof box for a one-off camping trip or even a squash racket to try out a new sport are all things that can be easily passed around a group of friends. Over the last few years there has been an emergence of centres which facilitate sharing. One such venture is “The Library of Things”. As the name suggests it works like a traditional lending book library but has a much broader collection of things available. Even if you don’t live near a “borrow” shop of this ilk, you can still make an effort to find a possible solution from friends, families and neighbours. You also get the added bonus of social interaction, something often missing in our communities.

2 – PASS IT ON

Charity Shops accept a whole host of things that can be given a new life. Some will even come to your home to pick up your donations. Most donations are expected to be in good condition so they can be resold, but many larger charities will also take stained, torn or very worn clothing and sell them on as rags for recycling. Old textiles can be turned into carpets, cleaning cloths and even insulation. If you are unsure what your chosen charity will take, then just give them a quick call.

Cloths on Display

3 – SET IT “FREE”

Freecycle” & “Freegle” are just 2 good examples of online platforms that allow you to offer items that may not quite fit the criteria required for charitable operations, but are still in great usable condition. I have used these websites to easily pass on used paint, hangers, magazines and padded envelopes. Another great option are animal sanctuaries who welcome bedding like pillows and blankets to help their furry friends feel comfortable.

4 – RECYCLING

As well as your limited standard kerbside home recycling, there is an ever increasing range of things that can be recycled. “Terracycle” are an organisation aiming to eliminate the idea of waste by recycling the unrecyclable ! They have free programmes for crisp packets, contact lenses, pens, coffee pods and more. Not all areas are covered so pop over to https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/ to see what is available near you. Another fabulous opportunity that is often overlooked is plastic bags such as bread and veg bags and even bubble wrap, that can now be collected at most major supermarkets. Last but not least, don’t forget to look into your local recycling centre options that can take mattresses, electronics, scrap metal, batteries and much, much more.

5 – SELLING

Although this can take a little longer than donating, it can be very fruitful. Online auction sites such as ebay, car boot sales and social media “buy & sell” pages, allow access to large audiences. If you have an abundance of dvds, books or games, then organisations like “Ziffit”, “Music Magpie” or “World of Books” will buy them directly from you.

Money

6 – REPAIR & RENEW

Keeping things in action longer is vital for all of us to embrace as we seek to increase the sustainability of our planet. It is often the case that repairing something is expensive, time-consuming and sometimes not possible. Fortunately, as environmental and ethical considerations are increasing, we are starting to see good solutions sprouting up. Repair cafes are mostly free to use (you have to pay for the parts you need), and are an exciting option to gain knowledge with a helping hand to repair all sorts of things. Sewing and darning are also having a resurgence to extend the life of our favourite clothes. “Visible mending” is becoming more popular, whereby the pattern created from the sewing repair is now part of the appeal. This is not dissimilar to “kintsugi” seen in Japan where, rather than disguising breaks in pottery, the cracks are enhanced with golden seams. Upcycling is also becoming increasingly more mainstream and accessible with Pinterest arguably being a leading source of inspiration.

In order to maintain a well-organised home, it is absolutely essential to have considered how you will stop the onslaught of “stuff” that keeps on sneaking in. Make sure you’ve considered how you’ll deal with junk mail, gifts and freebies – the major contributors to clutter. When you’re out shopping, stick to your list, and think about the hard work you’ve put into removing clutter from your life.
It is possible to part with “stuff” responsibly and not feel guilty about letting it go. It does take an extra bit of thinking and a shift of mindset, but it is so worth it.

Jodi Sharpe

Jodi Sharpe of the 25th Hour

Professional organisers and declutterers are experts in finding efficient ways to give your clutter new life.

You can find your nearest organisers in the  “Find an Organiser” section on the APDO website.

APDO Hoarding Conference Birmingham

National Hoarding Roadshow 2019 – Birmingham

This week in the UK it is National Hoarding Awareness Week and the week was launched with the National Hoarding Conference in Birmingham, which took place on Monday 20 May.

APDO was delighted to exhibit at this wonderful event, raising awareness and understanding around hoarding behaviours and the sort of help which is available.

Our President Katherine Blackler ( SortMySpace ) was joined by our Head of Membership Lisa Pantling (Clutter Free Living), Claire Birnie (The Tidy Life Project), who had come all the way from wonderful Scotland, and Lynsey Grundy (Tidy Homes Tidy Minds at Southway Housing) to field questions from delegates struggling with their stuff as well as those keen to join the industry and help. APDO was well represented at the event as a number of members attended as delegates and others were also exhibiting on neighbouring stands.

National Hoarding Awareness Week logo

Hoarding behaviour is a complex and emotive subject. Almost everyone you talk to has some experience of their own hoarding difficulties, or those of someone they know and love. Even a lawyer I met in the hotel lift on her way to check out of the hotel briefly shared her personal experience! As soon as I mention what I do, I am invariably met with the response ‘Oh, my mum/dad/auntie is a hoarder’.

The conference opened with with a real treat: a filmed excerpt from the play ‘Stuff’ by the Women’s Theatre group. This superbly captured the thought process that people go through when they are trying to let go of things in their home. Each item has a story, a memory or a purpose, it brings joy, sadness or potential and this is why it so often feels truly impossible to let it go.

APDO member Lisa Panting standing with APDO Banner

Professor Paul Salvoskis gave a powerful and uplifting presentation around showing empathy, understanding and, most of all, compassion. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution or treatment, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. By showing respect and genuine care, we can help and support people to improve their situations.

We also heard from Lee, a retired Fire Officer of 30 years, who now works closely with people who hoard. He talked us through the process of assessing the highest risks of fire, and stressed the importance of really getting to know the person you are working with so that they can make progress.

Many APDO members have a wealth of experience of supporting people with hoarding behaviour. A growing number of members have been attending specialist training and developing their skills so that they are able to support people exhibiting hoarding behaviour. You can search for members with this specialism on www.findanorganiser.co.uk. In addition, you can find more information on hoarding support at www.helpforhoarders.co.uk and www.hoardersuk.org.

To read more about APDO and hoarding, please visit https://www.apdo.co.uk/what-is-hoarding/.

Foliage in a glass jar signifying recycling and environment

Decluttering when someone has died

Sentimental items are without a doubt the most difficult things to deal with when decluttering. Emotions around objects can be incredibly strong, as we link feelings and memories to physical objects and this is especially true when someone has passed away. In this post, Zoe Berry of Life/Edit gives her advice on decluttering a lifetime of possessions after someone dies.

sentimental flowers

Decluttering when someone has died: How to deal with a lifetime of possessions

Recently I have worked with two clients for whom this is a huge issue: they are responsible for decluttering after someone has died, and they find themselves hanging on to far too much stuff because of an almost paralysing inability to make decisions on what to do with it all. There are varied reasons for this: in these particular cases, the sheer volume of it all was overwhelming. Where do you start with a whole house or the contents of someone’s entire life that’s ended up in boxes in your loft? But perhaps greater than this is the associated guilt. When someone has died it can be so hard to part with their belongings: knowing how hard the person worked for them, knowing what the items meant to the person, worrying that you are being disloyal or disrespectful by simply ‘getting rid’ of them, or not knowing who to give them to or where they should go if you do want to part with them. This post explores how you can respectfully and thoughtfully keep someone’s memory alive without having to be the keeper of all of their belongings.

First: ask for help

This is going to be hard. You probably can’t do it on your own, so allow the people who are offering help to work through it with you. Or if this isn’t an option, look up a professional declutterer here: https://www.apdo.co.uk/find-an-organiser/. We are trained to help you, and can help to guide you through the process.

Start with the ‘least difficult’

In the case of post-bereavement decluttering, there probably isn’t an ‘easy’ place to start, but whatever you do, don’t start with the most emotional things. You’ll know what these are. For some people it’s about their mum’s clothes, for some it’s their husband’s precious collection of books which were his pride and joy. For some people it’s about something that may seem entirely random but you will know what is going to be the most difficult for you. Leave that until the end.

Do I really want to keep this?

Look at the item and ask yourself: what precisely am I sentimental about? Chances are, it’s not the object itself but its association with a person, place, or time. You will retain that memory without a physical object to remind you. However if you look at the item and love it, then it’s not clutter.

pile of photographs letters and memories

Let go of guilt

Often people keep items not out of love or nostalgia, but guilt. It could be because it feels ‘bad’ to get rid of something, or it could be because you had a difficult relationship with the person who has died and you’re subconsciously trying to make it better. Allow yourself to realise that your complex relationship with your aunty will not be fixed if you keep hold of her hideous set of figurines now that she has passed away.

Take a photograph

If you have your grandparents’ table and chairs and you know you can’t keep them and won’t use them, take a photo of them as part of the process of letting them go. Use the same logic as you do with other parts of your decluttering life (you wouldn’t keep all your kids’ toys for example) and apply it to the post-bereavement decluttering.

Pass it on

Do some quality research before passing your items to charity. Some charities only take specific things (for example, no electrical goods) and you don’t want to be turned away after the difficult and emotional process of sorting through, loading your car and driving to the charity shop. Recently I donated a whole lifetime’s worth of clothes which had belonged to a client’s mum. Going through these clothes was so difficult for my client, she spent hours in tears remembering the stories that went with them: where her mum wore them and how they summed her up. I made sure these clothes went to a charity shop local to me which specialises in vintage clothing. For this client, the idea that the next generation of vintage-loving young women would be soon wearing them filled her with joy and pride.

Foliage in a glass jar signifying recycling and environment

Family

You may not want something or have room for it, but you can always offer it to others in the family. Remember to check with them first before packing an object off to somewhere outside the family.

Upcycle

To hold onto your connection with something, create something new that retains its sentimental value. An example of this recently was an antique chair belonging to a client’s beloved great aunty. I encouraged her to upcycle it so it fitted more in to her house décor and she covered it with some beautiful fabric bringing it right up to date whilst still retaining the nod to her family member.

Dealing with collections

It’s very difficult when dealing with the possessions of an avid collector. Your dad may have loved his thousands of model cars, your brother loved his rooms full of books, but it doesn’t mean you have to absorb them into your home. Choosing one or two keepsake items to represent a collection, person or era can allow you to let the rest go.

Memory Box

Just as you’d keep a memory box for your children with their precious school drawings, first shoes and other sentimental items, you can also do this for someone who has died. It doesn’t matter how off-the-wall these things are – if an empty margarine tub makes you chuckle thinking about your gran, then pop it in the box. This is a good way to preserve memories without taking up too much space. It also keeps the items all together, so you can choose when you want to look at them, particularly if grief is still very raw.

Most of all be kind to yourself. Take time, acknowledge that this is one of the hardest things to do, accept help and reward yourself when you make progress.

Open notebook and a pen next to a pot plant

Spring Clearing Week wrapped up!

Spring Clearing Week 2019 has been inspiring and informative! In case you missed any of our tips, blogs and interviews, here’s a round-up for you:

 

decluttered organised bedroom

We were delighted to guest post for:

 

organised boxes in a white room ready for unpacking

We shared these intriguing initiatives happening outside APDO:

  • You might think it odd that we interviewed an online sales platform but you’ll soon see why we wanted to bring you this very interesting interview with Tara Button, founder of BuyMeOnce.
  • If you’ve not used Library of Things we highly recommend watching this fascinating interview with Alys Penfold, Community Activator. Will you be inspired to set up a Library of Things in your community?!

APDO Spring Clearing Week 2019 logo

Thank you for reading, sharing and liking our Spring Clearing Week tips!

And, finally, thank you to the APDO Social Media volunteer team: Simon Wizgell, Nichola Skedgel, Claire Birnie, Cory Cook, Tilo Flache, Mel Carruthers and Kate Ibbotson, for working tirelessly behind the scenes this week.

APDO Spring Clearing Week 2019 logo

This is no April fool: it’s Spring Clearing Week!

Yes, you read that right, APDO is encouraging you to Spring cleaR before you Spring cleaN!

Life is often busy. Our homes, our heads and our calendars can end up pretty full.

A survey by Money Magpie found that less than half of Brits now bother with Spring cleaning. However, 60 per cent seize Springtime to declutter, so, in 2018, APDO introduced #SpringClearingWeek to encourage this great ritual of a Spring Clear.

Clearing clutter at home

We rarely take time to plan what we bring into our homes; gifts, freebies and impulse purchases sneak their way in, even when we have the best of intentions. This is a great time of year to consider if you have any unwanted items that sneak in too often and for you to consider strategies that could stem the flow.

By reducing the number of unwanted items that arrive into your front door, you begin to set a good baseline from which to clear items out the back door, so to speak. Not sure where to start? A fun game to start at the beginning of a month is The Mins Game, which you can play with a friend or others in your household and helps you to slowly build up the number items to let go.

Clearing calendar commitments

Demands are made on us from work, children, friends, family, media…. The list is almost endless and we can end up feeling pulled in dozens of different directions.

Maybe you pretty happy with your physical space but you’re feeling thinly spread when it comes to the number of commitments in your week. Take some time this week to consider what is important to you and what you can put to one side, even if only temporarily; do you need to enlist help with something, learn to delegate a task or simply say “no” to something or someone?

A vase of daffodils on an organised coffee table

Creating clearer thinking

Often clearing your physical space or diary can help to increase mental clarity. Removing distractions from our environment or reducing activities that drain our energy frees up just enough space in our heads to allow us to process our thoughts more easily.

Spring Clearing Week Resources

APDO professional organisers will be sharing motivational tips and clever hacks on our blog and social media this week.

Many APDO members know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by clutter, and have become professional organisers in order to share their decluttering experience and knowledge with their clients. If you would like a helping hand this Spring Clearing Week, you can find your local organiser on the APDO website.

Small succulent plant in a white pot signifying organised recycling

7 steps to create your own home recycling system

Reducing the use of plastics, building sustainable houses, repurposing discarded materials – the media is full of information about the problems consumerism can cause and articles about how much we can do to help the situation. Some of the facts are truly mind-blowing… For example, did you know that the energy saved from recycling just one glass bottle is enough to power a light bulb for four hours? When we recycle we are decreasing the need for landfills and incinerators, therefore reducing ground and air pollution as well as land usage. In this post, Filipa do Carmo of Khora Space Sorted explains how to organise your own recycling system at home.

If you want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, start with the simple act of recycling. Having a simple system in place is a great way to guarantee your commitment. And by simple, I mean, a system that works specifically for you (and your family or co-workers).

Here are some steps to make it happen:

1. Do your research

Start by checking online for recycling options in your community. You can easily find this information on your local council’s website. As you know, the rules vary enormously depending on location, so do check. This information will serve as a guide to help you with the steps below and provide you with a quick reference guide to check. This is especially useful if you need to separate the different types of waste.

2. Know your trash

If you know the type of waste you create and how often it’s collected it will be easier to decide which bins to get, if you need this extra storage, and where to place your bins. Take time to observe the quantity and type of waste you produce before you decide what to get.

Row of organised coloured recycling bins

3. Make it easy

This is a really important step. If it doesn’t make sense, or is dysfunctional, we will be less likely to commit.

Placing the recycling bin next to the non-recycling one will increase the chances of recycling more. When this is not possible in the space we have available, try to find the nearest location.

Another option is to have different containers which let you separate as you dispose, to avoid having to sort everything twice.

4. Compost

The benefits of composting are endless; it makes total sense to use organic matter to nourish our soil. Some councils offer compost bins and bags which they collect on specific days. Otherwise, you can donate it to local gardeners or allotment holders, or use it for your own garden, if you are lucky to have one.

5. Bathroom recycling

Whilst most households are getting better at sorting their kitchen waste, the same rarely happens in the bathroom. A good solution here is to have two bins in the bathroom too and use one to collect empty plastic bottles and paper which can be recycled.

If you want to push it a bit further, start thinking about using plastic-free alternatives – such as soap, solid shampoo –  or making your own face cream. There are a lot of options out there.

Foliage in a glass jar signifying recycling and environment

6. Battery recycling

Set aside a small box or can in which you can place used batteries and other small electrics. These are highly toxic and need to be recycling in specialised containers. Most supermarkets now have bins for batteries, so keeping your battery box close to your shopping bags will remind you to take them with you when you go shopping.

7. Donation box

Another good idea is to have a donation box into which you can place clothes, electronics and other items you no longer need, but which could be useful to others. It’s always better to keep everything in one place, instead of different piles around your home. In this way, whenever you know you are going to pass by your local charity shop, you can take everything with you in one go. Or perhaps contact a charity to book a collection.

In our recent blog post “What to do with your unwanted stuff” there are some further suggestions of how to recycle the items that you are decluttering from your home.

If Filipa’s post has inspired you to declutter and get organised, you can find your local professional organiser here.