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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.

wool craft space declutter organise

Declutter your creative space

Do you love to create, but feel that your workspace is holding you back? Nadia Arbach, of Clear the decks! Professional Decluttering and Organizing and host of the ‘Declutter and Organize Your Sewing Space’ podcast gives us some tips to help clear the clutter and bring your creativity back into focus.

Decluttering your creative space

If you’ve ever experienced writer’s block, you’ll know what it feels like to stare at a blank page. Or perhaps you’re an artist feeling helpless before a blank canvas. Your mind feels devoid of ideas and inspiration. But look round your creative workspace – is it as empty as your mind feels?

Chances are that your workspace is full. REALLY full. Full of things which aren’t necessarily helping you in your creative endeavours. And this clutter is what’s blocking your creativity.

No matter what your practice – illustrator, quilter, poet, musician, woodworker, or any other kind of maker – if your workspace is in disarray, your mind will be too. Decluttering your workspace can help you overcome your creative blocks and unleash your creativity.

It can be daunting to take the first step when you’ve got an overwhelming amount of stuff to sort through, but if you start with the easier items you’ll see some immediate progress and will feel encouraged to keep going!

fabric craft space declutter organise

Here are a few categories of items to kick-start your decluttering:

Things which don’t belong in your creative workspace

Even if you do your creative work at the kitchen table, you won’t get far if it’s got unrelated items strewn all around. Make sure that you’ve cleared the following out of your creative area before you start working: bowls, glasses, and cutlery, children’s toys, letters and packages to post, other to-do items, and papers which belong elsewhere in your house. These mundane items hijack your attention and downgrade your creative capabilities. If they keep migrating back to your creative workspace, it means they don’t have an adequate ‘home’ of their own elsewhere in your house. Make a specific place for them outside of your creative area, and let your mind focus solely on your creative work.

Expired materials

Gather up all your materials which are past their use-by date. Crusted-up tubes of paint, dried-out markers and pens, broken tools, faded fabric, expired rolls of film, broken reeds for musical instruments – you don’t need them taking up valuable space. Toss them without a second thought.

Loose notes

If you’re in the habit of writing notes for your projects on scraps of paper and then putting them down in different places, gather them up and put them all together. My suggestion is a small concertina folder which has different sections you can label to sort your notes. You could also buy a notebook and carry it with you to jot down your ideas as you go.

art craft space declutter organise

Bits of paper

You may have other small paper items lying around your creative workspace. Gather up the following:  product packaging, product brochures, instruction manuals, business cards, flyers advertising exhibitions or shows, old tickets for shows you’ve already attended, competition entry forms, receipts, and any other small bits of paper. How many of these are usable? How many will truly help you in your creative practice? Keep only the ones which you really need and file them. If you must save receipts for tax purposes, get another small concertina folder and add them in as they build up.

Scraps and remnants

When you’ve finished with a project, do you toss the remnants of your materials, or do you hang on to them hoping they might come in handy one day? If you tend to keep them, you might have a build-up of bits which aren’t serving you: half-used skeins of yarn in colours you’ll never knit with again, paint samples, leather offcuts, bits of metal from jewellery-making, fabric scraps. Gather up and examine all the items which fit into this category. If you can use an item right away for a project you’re currently working on, great. If not, let it go.

Items which are a pain to use

Sometimes we hang onto items which require a ‘workaround’ or which are a real pain to use, without even realizing that they’re causing us stress or discomfort. Go round your workspace again and assess whether any of these are holding you back: tools which hurt your hands, tools which don’t do the job correctly, bad lighting, digital equipment which crashes constantly, programs which run slowly, and uncomfortable seating. You might need all these things to pursue your creative work, but their poor quality is hampering you. Think about upgrading them. Sometimes it’s worth the cost to have a seat that doesn’t cause you back pain, and tools you can rely on.

sewing craft space declutter organise

And now… declutter your fear

Clutter is often the physical manifestation of mind-set issues which haven’t been resolved. One huge mental block which can affect creativity is FEAR – fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of not being ‘good enough’ to accomplish your creative goal. Sometimes we use clutter as an excuse NOT to pursue our creative practice, and not to face our fears. In fact, we unconsciously create the clutter to conveniently explain why our creative practice is stagnating. It takes courage to face that clutter straight on and decide to conquer it, and to address your fears at the same time.

Here’s the simplest way to start addressing your fears as you declutter your workspace: every day, take three minutes to remind yourself that you love your craft, be grateful that you’re able to enjoy this creative practice, list three projects you’re proud to have accomplished so far in your creative journey, and remind yourself of what excites you about your current project. With this simple three-minute reminder you’ll put yourself into a positive mindset and the fears will seem less daunting. Your decluttering will soon lead to a clear, inspiring, ready-to-use workspace.

If Nadia’s advice has inspired you to get some assistance with your decluttering, 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.

Caption Mock up Blank Cotton Tote Bag on Brick wall Background Hipster lifestyle Alt Text

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.

reusable shopping bag clear your clutter day

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

Beautiful bouquet of daffodil in a living room. 3d rendering

Clear The Clutter For Spring

spring cleaning week
APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers joins forces with National Spring Cleaning Week for the first time this March.

We recognise this is the perfect opportunity to declutter, clean and organise your spaces in order to create a more functional and uplifting environment.

Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace and APDO head of partnership liaison) explains “We are excited to partner up with Relations Group, the PR company behind National Spring Cleaning Week because we feel there are a lot of synergies with APDO’s work. Springtime has always been a key focus for the public to review and improve their spaces. As the days gradually lengthen and we emerge from those feelings of hibernation, we often look for fresh starts. People like to change the spaces around us to align with that drive for new beginnings. By teaming up with National Spring Cleaning Week it’s a great opportunity for APDO to showcase our members’ expertise when it comes to clearing as well as cleaning and how to get the best long-term results from your spring cleaning efforts.”

Cleaning conept - hand cleaning with cleaning brush. Isolated on white background

So what is spring cleaning and how does our APDO president Ingrid Jansen (Organise Your House) recommend we approach this annual phenomenon?

I remember when I was young, my mum would spring clean our home and my sister and I would be enlisted to help with this activity. She would clean on a regular basis, but she dedicated one week of her holidays each spring to turn our house upside down and we would do all the annual jobs.  The tradition of spring cleaning originated from homes of yesteryear having wood stoves or coal to heat them. When the heating was no longer needed come springtime it was the perfect time to get the soot and dirt out of the house and start opening windows again. Even though we had central heating my mum would honour the tradition of spring cleaning and many of us still continue to.

Now I believe there is a difference between cleaning, spring cleaning, decluttering and organising.

CLEANING

Cleaning are those daily, weekly and even monthly tasks that need to be done all the time. Daily task include doing the dishes, emptying the bins, washing laundry, etc. Weekly tasks include vacuuming and mopping the floors, cleaning the bathroom and toilet, dusting the furniture, doing a grocery shop and meal plan. Monthly tasks could be dusting the skirting boards, washing the car, sweeping the patio, cleaning the picture frames, etc.

SPRING CLEANING

In my opinion spring cleaning is when you thoroughly clean your house from top to bottom, starting on the top floor and working your way down. This is also the most efficient way to clean a room too; start with the ceiling and finish with the floor to make sure all the dirt is collecting as you go. Annual tasks might include using a ceiling mop for cobwebs, cleaning the light fittings, washing the nets and curtains, washing pillow and mattress protectors and vacuuming the mattress and getting the dust out of books. Tip: open the book in half and slam it shut again with reasonable force to shift the dust (ideally next to an open window!). Clean chair legs and vacuum the seat, wipe the bedframe, empty wardrobes and chest of drawers and move them aside to clean behind. Clean inside the drawers and wash the windows inside and out. Last but not least clean the floor (especially under the bed and other places often overlooked the rest of the year).

In the kitchen, empty all the kitchen cupboards to give them a wipe over. In the living room, move the sofa away from the wall and take out the cushions to vacuum the sofa. Clean behind the television which is a magnet for dust, and clean any table and chair legs. Again work from ceiling to floor and don’t forget your curtains and lights.

DECLUTTERING & ORGANISING

Now during spring cleaning you will end up emptying cupboards, wardrobes and chests of drawers to clean inside and behind them. If you can spare the time at this stage, it’s a sound chance to declutter (taking items you no longer want out of circulation) and to organise (putting items back in an orderly, logical way) during your spring clean. Check sell-by dates on food items and decide if you need to put quite all of the 15 black t-shirts you no longer wear back into the drawer. This process undoubtedly does take longer so you may decide to declutter and organise on another occasion.

However you decide to do it, spring cleaning is a great way to clear the cobwebs in both your house and your head to feel more organised! If you need help decluttering and organising while spring cleaning why not get an APDO professional organiser in to help you?  Check our Find An Organiser page for someone near you.

spring cleaning week logo

National Spring Cleaning Week 6-12 March 2017

 

Cleaning conept - hand cleaning with cleaning brush. Isolated on white background

APDO have secured an exciting collaboration with Relations Group, a PR company that promote National Spring Cleaning Week from 6-12 March 2017.  We recognise this is a popular time of year for the UK to declutter, clean and organise your spaces in order to create a more functional and uplifting environment.  APDO members will demonstrate their expertise giving advice on how to successfully clear before cleaning as well as how to store and organise for longer term benefits of a spring clean.

This is a first for APDO and, with coverage nationwide using Relations Group’s established radio, online and print connections, should be a great opportunity for us to reach and inspire more people to tackle their physical environments.

Divorce agreement. Wife and husband can not make settlement

Divorce and Downsizing: 3 Steps to Letting Go of Your Belongings

Sarah Macnaught (Rightsize) specialises in helping clients to rightsize their homes and their possessions as they move through the divorce process. She is available seven days a week to cover all working hours and time-zones. Call 07792 298 595 or email sarah@right-size.co.uk for a free consultation.

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When people are going through a divorce I’m often brought in to help deal with their belongings. There are various scenarios. Sometimes the husband leaves to start a new relationship, taking the bare minimum of possessions. His wife is left feeling overwhelmed and resentful about having to deal with every single thing. So she calls me. On other occasions family lawyers and divorce coaches refer cases to me because their clients are arguing over Every. Single. Thing. As well as the negative moods and toxic atmosphere, couples fighting over joint possessions can lead to higher legal fees and longer settlement periods.

As a professional organiser and belongings coach I get my clients to approach dividing their belongings in various ways. But I encourage them to base each decision on this one value: “Is this fair and reasonable?”

Here are 3 steps to dividing up the home that all separating couples should follow to make the process as smooth as it can be.

Be Practical: Make an Inventory of Everything

Think like a removal company and draw up a home inventory. There are phone apps you can use – Sortly and Encircle are brilliant – and you can produce downloadable documents to share with each other and legal teams. Photograph stuff wherever possible and give each item some sense of size like this:

4 drawers obsolete black & cream computer cables

3 shelves football programmes

3 boxes old cosmetics

8 large boxes wine glasses

1 three-seater sofa

10 metres of DVDs

This will make you both stop and think. No, it isn’t fair for one partner to deal with everything. And the cost of setting up two new homes will be offset if belongings are distributed fairly and reasonably, just as financial assets are.

Be Mindful: Expanding into Two Homes

“If I keep (all) this, is that fair and reasonable?” Especially when children are involved, both homes will be family homes, so an even division of all utensils, furniture, clothing and toys is important. Though there are often things (mother-in-law’s ornate vase anyone?) that both partners will gleefully donate to charity rather than lay claim to. The excess of possessions in UK homes is well documented so there’s practically always enough to go around. One parent doesn’t need the standard British haul of 8 pots and 6 casserole dishes!

Also couples should think about their short term accommodation before making any decisions. One father told me, “I insisted on the 3-seater sofa and oversized armchairs from our 6 bedroom Victorian home. When the removal company arrived at my rented townhouse, absolutely nothing could fit up the narrow stairs to the living room on the first floor.  It’s all still in storage, two years later.”

Be Generous: The True Meaning of Conscious Uncoupling

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin may have made conscious uncoupling a ‘thing’ but it was originally coined by US therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas in 2011. The idea here is that you give generously as you let go of your possessions – re-gifting large furniture you love but have no room for; selling old paintings and donating the proceeds to your favourite charity; setting up a Men’s Shed with all your DIY tools and materials. The bigger the act of generosity on your part, the better you’ll feel about letting go.


This guest blog highlights how versatile APDO members can be regarding the services they provide. If you’d like to find an accredited professional organiser near you, search here. If you feel decluttering and organising could be your dream career, visit the APDO website for details on how to join APDO plus training courses.