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apdo keeping items that serve you once Halloween declutter

Keeping forever what only serves us once

It’s that time of the year again: Halloween is upon us and this means that the kids want a costume to hit the streets and ‘scare’ the neighbours. For Tilo Flache – the ClutterMeister – it’s also a reminder of the decisions we should be making regularly about our possessions.

Halloween costumes

I live in Brighton, and around here Halloween is by no means limited to the kids: everyone and their dog is dressing up big time for Halloween evening. Large parts of the city centre will be teeming with big production movie level makeup and outfits, not just on the day itself, but a couple of days before and after as well!

While there is obviously nothing wrong with that, quite the contrary, I find myself wondering what happens to all those costumes once the party is over. Of course, some will be recycled or thrown away afterwards, but I suspect many are going to end up in a box at the back of a cupboard, never to resurface again.

Let’s face it: next year around the kids will want a new costume which aligns with their latest heroes on the telly or whatever is popular that year. As for the adults, they’ll find themselves torn between finding themselves invited to a party with a different theme, or not wanting to be seen in the same costume again. Any way you look at it, costumes tend to be throwaway items, often made of low-quality materials and unlikely to be reused.

The rest of your wardrobe

And now we think of it, isn’t a good part of your regular wardrobe likely to be very similar to fancy dress in some respect? You disagree? Think again. Some of your clothes serve one purpose only. Think about that black dress (or suit) you only wear to formal events, or those flowery clothes and footwear reserved for vacations (the ones you would never dream of wearing at home and can never find when you pack your bags for the next trip). Then there are all the items you bought as emergency replacements but are clearly below-par for daily use: that straw hat from the Spanish coast or the ugly mittens from the slopes of France. There are certainly clothes in your wardrobe which could be classified as dressing up in some way, we simply don’t call it ‘dressing up’.

Of course, some of those things may have cost you a pretty penny, and that makes you feel that they should be cherished and kept. The sad truth is that almost everything that we subject to this kind of reasoning will NEVER resurface again, and if it does it will be truly out of fashion, mouldy, undesirable, broken or just generally useless. The only effect they have is to make us regret buying and keeping them, and make us feel guilty for making bad decisions… Yet we find that we hang on to them rather than dispose of them until we are so overwhelmed with stuff that we are forced to declutter sometime in the future.

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Decisions, decisions

In terms of that Halloween costume, the best thing is to spend a moment the morning after the party to take a good look at whatever is left from the previous evening and make a decision there and then. If you are really lucky, this is when realisation strikes:

“Wow! This is what I should do at every turn in the road, and for every single item I own, isn’t it?”

Sadly, in the real world we postpone these kinds of decision by inventing all sorts of superficial reasons which allow us to hang on to those things: “it cost me money”, “it could be made into something new, someday”, “I’ll keep it for now and decide later”, “I could use this as a [fill in missing word here]”, or as many fake reasons as you can shake a stick at.

Most people feel that the process takes too much time so they end up procrastinating. Unfortunately, we are also very good at putting on blinkers and believing whatever story we come up with which will make the decisions go away.

Best practice: take those decisions sooner rather than later and get into the habit of doing this at every turn of the road!

 

If Tilo’s post has struck a nerve this Halloween, and you would like some help decluttering your home,
you can find your nearest professional organiser here.

apdo blog family organising decluttering

How do I get my family to declutter?

As professional organisers, one of the questions that we are most frequently asked is: “How do I get my spouse/children/housemate on-board with decluttering?” In this post, professional organiser and coach Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson of Declutter With Hannah gives us some guidance, and shares what has worked well with her own family.

“How do I get my family on board with decluttering?”

You may have ‘seen the light’ yourself and be reaping the rewards of living with less stuff – more space, more time, improved mental clarity and feeling freer. But it can be challenging when others in your household either can’t let go of their clutter, or simply just don’t feel your enthusiasm. Some people aren’t adversely affected by mess and clutter. But if you are, and it impacts negatively on your well-being, this can lead to tension in the household. So, what can you do?

Set an example

Firstly, you can lead by example by continuing to let go of your own belongings and enjoying the benefits.  You need to “walk the walk” yourself before expecting others to make big lifestyle changes. Have a think about why you find clutter overwhelming and try to communicate that to the other people in your home. Start requesting experiences or consumables as gifts instead of “stuff” so that less is coming into your home and you show that you are serious about wanting to live with less.

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Create zones

Allocate zones in the house that are clutter-free (for example, your side of the bedroom, a select number of shelves, the kitchen table) and ask people to respect that these areas should not be piled high with stuff.

Implement systems

Start to implement some systems in the house for where things should go. Have a place where keys belong, where the post goes, where bags and coats should be hung up, etc. This encourages other household members to put things away and keep communal areas tidy. Set up an easy-to-use filing system so that paperwork doesn’t pile up. And try to comment when positive changes occur – how much better you feel and how great the house looks – so that your family start to recognise that the whole house is benefitting from being more organised.

Set goals

If your family is willing – sit down and set some goals around what you would all gain by having less stuff. If you all agree to stop buying as much, you can put saved money towards a family holiday or a summer ice-cream fund. Or if you declutter the spare room you will gain extra play space or a home office. Encourage your partner or housemates to sell some things to make extra money to put towards your goal.

Start giving

Encourage family members to gather up unused toiletries and donate to food banks and refugee centres. Children are often motivated to declutter if they know their toys are going to families in need. Children also respond well to making decluttering a game. You could create a treasure hunt for the whole family to take part in where you collect broken toys, unused clothes and unwanted gifts. Whoever wins can choose an activity for you all to take part in – a family bike ride or baking a cake together.

apdo blog - getting family on board with decluttering

Set some rules

Finally, set some family rules together like “one in, one out” so that when members of the household buy something new, they must let go of something else. Or ask people to use the “one minute rule” – if something can be put away or dealt with in under one minute then do it so that jobs don’t build up.

Remember, learning to live with less and changing habits can be a slow process and it can be an even slower process changing other people’s habits. But don’t let that put your off. Slow and steady wins the race.

If you and your family would like to get some help with your decluttering, you can find your local professional organiser here.

drowning in paperwork organising paper decluttering desk

Drowning in paper: How to organise your paperwork

Does paperwork have a habit of piling up around your home or workplace? Liz Gresson, professional organiser and owner of Hampshire-based organising business www.allorganisedforyou.co.uk has been there too. In this post she shares her thoughts about paperwork – why it piles up, how it makes us feel, and what we can do about it.

Drowning in paper!

I hate paper!  I don’t mean books or magazines, although I make sure newspapers and magazines are recycled straight after reading and not allowed to pile up.

For years I worked in solicitors’ offices which don’t seem to have changed much since the days of Charles Dickens, with stacks of bulging files piled up on shelves and on the floor round the desks.  Every morning my boss would put fresh letters and documents which had arrived in the post or been printed off from email on to my desk.  We went through reams of paper in the printer every week, often duplicating documents, in my view unnecessarily.  Some days I felt as if I couldn’t breathe for all the paper around me.

Many people work in offices like these and don’t want to come home to a house which resembles them in terms of piles of paper everywhere.  Working from home is a great option, but there is the ever-present danger of paper building up.

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Freedom from paper

Now that I’m a professional organiser, my mission is to provide freedom from the paper that seems to come into our houses faster than we can deal with it: leaflets advertising all sorts of things from pizzas to conservatory blinds, letters from the bank, charity requests, renewal reminders from insurance companies and many others. We print off emails and attachments, planning to read them at our leisure.  It doesn’t take long for a stack of assorted paperwork to pile up.

I use a number of strategies to organise and minimise paper in our home as well as effective storage solutions. I have methods for dealing with paperwork in ways which reduce stress and increase efficiency.

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Liz’s Top Tips

My top tips are:

  • Keep all paperwork in one place.
  • Go through it once a week, recycling or shredding what you don’t need and dealing immediately with anything which needs to be actioned.
  • Always select the paperless option with your bank, utility company, pension provider, insurer, etc. An added benefit here is that this can result in lower bills.
  • Scan important documents e.g. insurance policy schedules and shred the paper copy.
  • Sign up to the Mail Preference Service (mpsonline.org.uk) to filter out junk mail.

One client, an editor, told me he felt that I’d edited his life when I dealt with his paperwork and I think it’s an appropriate analogy.  Editing means cutting out what you don’t need and tidying up the rest.

I don’t believe we can become totally paper-free, but we can drastically reduce what we have and manage effectively the paper we do need to keep.

I offer to my clients help in reducing the amount of stuff they have, making their lives run more smoothly.  Tackling the tide of paper achieves both of those things.

If you need some help to start organising your paperwork, you can find your local professional organiser here.

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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.