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Headshot of APDO member Lou Shaw of Clutter Freedom

Spotlight on members’ professional development: Becoming a Home Sweet Home consultant

In this series of posts, we’ll be interviewing professional organisers who’ve undertaken additional qualifications or training and finding out how their businesses have benefitted.

Moira Stone of Uncluttered Wales talked to Lou Shaw of Clutter Freedom in London about becoming part of the Home Sweet Home network of professional organisers.

Becoming part of the Home Sweet Home network of professional organisers

Lou runs Clutter Freedom which covers south-west, south-east and central London. Lou herself lives in Battersea in south-west London near the Thames. It’s a very densely populated area but with a villagey feel. There are old Battersea residents, people who’ve moved to the area to bring up children, and a lot of people moving in and out. With its good transport links to central London, easy access to open spaces, family-sized houses and good schools, it’s a popular choice for people moving to work in London for a few years.

What’s Home Sweet Home and how did you get interested in being one of their contractors?

When I did APDO’s introductory training I met Louise Muratori of Be Clutter Free and we hit it off straight away, supporting and mentoring one another. It was through her Lancashire network that I heard that Marie Bateson, of Cut the Clutter, the APDO Director of Volunteers and UK co-ordinator for Home Sweet Home, was looking to build up the network of professional organisers who are APDO members.

Home Sweet Home was set up in Los Angeles in 2004 to simplify corporate moves and save companies money. Originally helping with internal USA and Canada moves, Home Sweet Home now operates in seven countries, serving Fortune 500 companies and their employees. I’ve worked with people from companies like Amazon, Apple, Netflix and American Express, for example.

I’ve always been interested in homes and moving so I love this work! I also believe in recycling and reusing and I’m keen to help my local community, so that fits in too.

Home Sweet Home sponsor logo

Tell us a bit more about Home Sweet Home

There are two main programmes:

  • Discard and Donate is for people leaving the UK to relocate to another country. In normal times, pre-COVID, we would help them declutter their home, working out what they would take with them and what they would leave behind. These are usually pieces of furniture and items with UK plugs like lights, hairdryers and tower fans. But it could be anything and often includes children’s toys and equipment. I then decide where the items can go, to charity or elsewhere. I like the challenge of getting things out there into the local community.

 

  • Quick Start is an unpack and put away service for company executives moving to this country. We will work in a team, unpacking all their belongings quickly and efficiently and organising their new home. When the executive and family come to their new home to find it ready for them, they’re thrilled! It not only makes the move to a new country less stressful, it also saves them a lot of unpacking time.

 

Marie organised a team of three APDO members to complete a Quick Start service for a family relocating to London from Spain who had to quarantine on arrival. I worked with Susanna Drew of Home Review and Gill Ritchie of Declutter Dahling, unpacking for a family of five into a large central London apartment. It was hard work and a logistical challenge but, yes, it was good fun too and it gave me a chance to meet other organisers.

Home Sweet Home services are offered as part of the relocation package and paid for by the transferring company. The company benefits because staff are happier and less stressed. They also save money as the number of goods transported is reduced and the amount the company saves on shipment covers the cost of Home Sweet Home.

Helping others

The service also helps the environment as less is transported, less packing material is used and there are fewer fuel emissions. And for every tree saved, Home Sweet Home makes a donation to plant three trees. The aim is for as much as possible of the donated items of furniture, household equipment and clothing to make its way back into the community to be reused or recycled.

I worked with a couple who were moving from a fantastic ninth floor apartment near the American Embassy in London to Tokyo. Almost all the items they left behind were donated to a grassroots organisation working to help get homeless people into new homes and other vulnerable people.

What makes a good Home Sweet Home contractor?

  • Being helpful, friendly and efficient while keeping a professional edge. I’m there representing Home Sweet Home and not promoting my own business.
  • Being a hands-on kind of person.
  • Being able to supervise, if required – packing, cleaning and so on.
  • Having a car is very useful.

 

Having the ability to think on your feet and having a certain amount of flexibility. There might be a suddenly remembered or discovered item to be dealt with immediately. Like the forgotten bike shed – which very quickly went on NextDoor. Or the two storage boxes of shoes found under a very low bed that the packers had missed – definitely wanted and needed by the transferee, who was in Frankfurt by then – that I was able to drive up to the shipping company at very short notice to join the consignment heading for Frankfurt.

Being resourceful with a good network. Covid has pushed us all to dig deeper and rethink our networks now charity shops are often closed. I’ve developed new contacts with Big Local SW11 and Wandsworth Mediation Services which supports very vulnerable families and gets homeless people off the street. There’s also Little Village, a children’s and babies’ clothes and equipment bank, which is great for children’s clothes, cots and buggies. I use my local NextDoor and a WhatsApp group and things go very quickly through them. I use a waste removal service for broken or damaged items, furniture without UK fire rating labels, mattresses and other items that charity outlets cannot take.

 

a room filled with packing boxes and a mirror standing against the wall

Tell us about training

Marie Bateson, our co-ordinator, trained with Home Sweet Home in Los Angeles so I was rather hoping that I could too! Unfortunately, I had to do it over Zoom…

The training is done by Jeff Heisler, Home Sweet Home’s President, and Marie. It’s free and takes a couple of hours. It’s very straightforward and there’s no commitment. There’s an introduction to Home Sweet Home and what it does, and then a description of the nuts and bolts of how it works.

When you join the network, you get all the help and support you need from Marie. Paperwork is straightforward. The Cost Saving Report, for example, is in an Excel spreadsheet which includes lists of household items, categorised by room/garden and their average weights. You simply list the number of items of a particular thing, for example, 1 three-seater sofa, 6 hand kitchen appliances, 3 large bags of clothing, and Excel calculates the overall shipping weight saving.

What are the benefits to your business of being a Home Sweet Home contractor?

It’s helping me to have a better knowledge of my own area and community and to build up a wider network of contacts. It’s really nice to get to know people. We’re all rubbing along together and are very loyal to the area. I’ve lived here for 20+ years. It’s like an extended family.

What’s your advice to someone thinking about joining the HSH network?

I’d say give it a go. You’re under no obligation, and you can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any job you’re offered. It does help in quieter periods of your own business.

Clients are professionals who are friendly and appreciative of the service Home Sweet Home offers them. It does take a weight off their minds that the possessions they’re leaving behind are going to a good cause to help people in the area where they’ve lived for the last couple of years.

I’ve been to some amazing properties and recently it’s been nice to have an excuse to zip about London. I’m off to a house in Notting Hill next week. The transferee has provided a list of items so I can plan how to distribute them efficiently. There are always last-minute items, though, that the family decide to leave behind once the packers begin their job so there may be a few surprises.

Training is usually carried out twice a year but if you’re an APDO member and you’d like to get on the books, email Marie as she can often get you on board before the next training session.

Thank you Lou for sharing your work with us and explaining more about the Home Sweet Home network and its services. 

We are delighted to welcome Home Sweet Home as Key Sponsor of the APDO Conference 2021: The Future Is Re-Organised. For further details head to the Conference page!

Headshot of APDO member Diana Spellman of Serenly Sorted

A messy home is a stressy home

In this post, organiser Diana Spellman, Founder of Serenely Sorted, shares the results of her fascinating research into the connection between clutter and stress.

“Distracted.  Annoyed.  Anxious. Unhappy.  Can’t relax.  Irritated.  Stressful”

These are just some of the feelings evoked by mess stress.

Back in the Summer of 2019, my mess stress had reached a point where I knew something had to change.  I resented all the time I was spending tidying at the weekends.  Because nothing ever seemed to change – the house would be back to ‘mess town’ in what seemed like minutes.

This mess stress really affected me.  I worked from home, so I couldn’t get away from it, either because I could see it while I worked, or the nagging voice in my head was reminding me of all the piles I needed to sort.  Because I had a lot of piles!  I sometimes felt better if I merged several piles into one mega pile, but the problem was just getting bigger.

It may not affect you, or your clients, in an obvious way as it did me.  It may be just a niggle, or something you just can’t put your finger on, but it stops you being able to relax fully at home – the place that should be our haven.

APDO member Diana Spellman of Serenely Sorted organising a kitchen cupboard

Mess stress affects us all

My recent Kantar survey* found that the feelings I was having back then are not at all uncommon.  In fact, 82% of us have experienced ‘mess stress’ at some point in our lives, with nearly half (44%) at least weekly.  This figure is higher amongst women, and starkly, 98% of parents of young children have experienced mess stress, with 71% experiencing it at least weekly.  Even 72% of those who define themselves as ‘naturally tidy’ had experienced mess stress. Mess stress gets to us all.

“It makes me feel anxious and I can never rest as I am always thinking I need to tidy my home – never feel content fully” Male, 35-44

“It distracts me, I don’t feel happy at all when the house is messy” Female, 35-44

“I am bothered by the mess and even if I do not think actively about it at the time, my mood is low.” Male, 18-24

The survey also explored the impact of letting our mess get the better of us, and reveals that, inevitably perhaps, 62% of people do not love their homes as much as they did when they moved in, revealing that our day-to-day habits were leading us to not fully appreciate our homes as our havens.

Low take up of well-known systems: are the TV shows causing us to turn off?

Given that mess stress is pervasive, are we actually doing anything about it, or are we just accepting it as part of ‘our lot’?  From the research, it seems not many of us are using the well-known systems we see on TV.  Is this because of overwhelm as a response to Insta perfect homes and the expectations we have of such solutions?

Graph showing awareness and use of various organising methods

Thankfully, despite low uptake of the TV-worthy systems, there is high demand for practical solutions, with 76% saying that they are either very or somewhat likely to take up a realistic solution that isn’t intimidating and could be sustained over time.

Graph showing the likelihood of adopting realistic home organisation methods

With so many homes across the UK experiencing mess stress, the challenge for APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers and its members is to communicate what’s available, and how we professional organisers  support our clients with practical, sustainable approaches

Back in the Summer of 2019, I couldn’t find exactly that route, so I solved both my mess stress and reduced/eliminated the dreaded tidying by building my own practical, realistic and sustainable system. Initially just for myself, I now teach people the Serenely Sorted System via online programmes and install it in people’s homes through my business Serenely Sorted, enabling people to remove the daily debris from the surfaces in their homes and address the piles for the long term.  The system utilises my corporate skills of system and process improvement, involves methods through which people can become more aware of how their behaviour creates mess, and techniques to break the mess/tidy loop they are in – and help them get tidy in less time than ever before.

With over 59% of households spending more than 30 minutes per day tidying, there is huge scope for helping people reduce and eliminate some of this drudgery by finding better ways of tidying.  Fascinatingly, those who claim to be naturally tidy are spending the most time actually tidying (63% spending more than 30 minutes), so it’s reassuring to the rest of us that perhaps the ‘naturally tidy’ image portrayed is just that – an image – and in fact the majority of us are not in control of our homes!

* Source: Nationally representative survey of 250 respondents conducted by Kantar on behalf of Serenely Sorted

If Diana’s article has prompted you to get some help with your own mess stress, you can find your local APDO professional organiser on our Find An Organiser database.

an open diary on a desk with piles of notebooks

Decluttering our lives as we emerge from lockdown

Karen Eyre-White of time management business Go Do gives her perspective on how we can declutter our lives after a challenging year.

When we think of decluttering, we typically think of physical things and reclaiming the spaces in our homes to create a greater sense of calm and order. But it’s also possible to declutter our lives; to reclaim our time and remove from our schedule those things which aren’t serving us anymore.

This can be hard to do. We have long-standing commitments in our diaries, we go to the same places and see the same people we’ve always seen, and our habits are deeply ingrained.

Or at least that used to be true.

The last year has turned everything on its head. The COVID lockdown measures have forced many unwelcome changes in our lives – our movement has been restricted, we’ve been isolated from friends and family and unable to do many of the things we love.

But as we emerge from our third COVID lockdown, how can we make use of what has changed over the last year to take stock of how we want to spend our time? How can we declutter what we don’t need and bring in new ways of spending time which make us happier?

Here are a few ideas and questions to ask ourselves over the coming months.

Socialising

Lockdown and the Rule of Six has meant our social lives have been dramatically transformed over the last year. We’re not meeting up with friends, going out for dinner or drinks, or taking group holidays.

As we’re gradually allowed to do these things again, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the last year and decide what you want to prioritise.

Have you enjoyed spending more time at home with those closest to you? Has it been a relief not to try to have a conversation in a loud restaurant or bar? Have you kept in touch virtually with a smaller group of close friends, and not missed others as much as you expected to?

Think about what this means for how you could rebuild your social life post-lockdown.

people socialising around a table full of coffee cups and cake

Activities and commitments

Whether it’s a group exercise class, a book club or being involved in a local community group, over the last year we’ve all spent less time on commitments outside of the home. We can’t go to group classes and activities, so we’ve become more home-based. Perhaps you’ve taken up gardening or started sewing your own clothes. Maybe you’ve connected with like-minded people virtually in a way you haven’t before.

When we’re forced to stop commitments, it can be an opportunity to reflect and take stock.

Did you feel ‘off the hook’ of saying yes to everything? Have you been happier with fewer commitments in your diary?

What activities are you raring to get back to? Focus on bringing those back in to your life first.

Commuting

For many, 23 March 2021 marked one year of working from home.

If that was you, how have you spent the time you used to spend commuting? Maybe you’ve cultivated an exercise habit, perhaps you’re reading more, or are able to spend more quality time with your children. Or, conversely, maybe you’ve realised that your commute was vital decompressing time between work and home and you’ve missed that clear boundary.

How will your job change as lockdown eases? Are you being given the option to work from home more, or perhaps even permanently? Would that be a positive or negative thing for you?

We don’t always have control over how and where we work but thinking these things through in advance will put you in the best possible position if an opportunity arises.

clothes on a shop rail

Shopping

Remember last spring, when supermarkets were under huge pressure and you couldn’t get a delivery slot for love nor money? Now, online shopping and food deliveries are the norm. We aren’t spending our Saturdays at the local retail park or town centre, or in the supermarket aisles, and we’re doing a huge proportion of our shopping online.

Of course, this isn’t simply a time saver: researching purchases online takes time and returning items if they’re not suitable can often mean time spent queuing at the post office.

How have you found it? Has online food shopping been easier than you expected? Have you found it frustrating or liberating to shop for clothes online?

Our shopping habits can feel like a small part of our lives, but they can have a significant impact on how we spend our time day-to-day. Take a few moments to think intentionally about how you’ll shop as retail re-opens.

Our lives have changed dramatically over the last year. We can create something positive out of it by thinking through how we want to spend our time as lockdown eases.

We don’t have to resume old ways of doing things just because that’s what we used to do. We can, instead, seize the opportunity to reclaim our time and use what we’ve learned over the last year to create a happier and more fulfilled life.

 

upcycled shelf unit surrounded by plants

Upcycling: Design that won’t cost the earth

In the final post for Spring Clearing Week, APDO member Linda Cavallini of Tidy Me spoke to interior designer and sustainable living expert Lynne Lambourne about creative ways to reuse and upcycle our clutter.

Design that won’t cost the earth

There are so many ways we can make our clutter count, from donating unwanted goods to charity and friends, to selling them on via trusted eBay sellers, the list is truly endless!

Smaller items always seem to find a quick way out of the house but larger items like furniture often become more of a burden. You may want to get rid of them as you don’t like them any longer because your taste has changed but, think again. Could you repurpose the piece elsewhere in the house by changing the look of it?

Have you ever thought about UPCYCLING?

As a keen promoter of sustainability, I had the pleasure of meeting Lynne Lambourne, a Henley-based interior designer, uber-passionate sustainability advocate and waste warrior, and winner of the Interior Room Designer of the Year 2019, at a webinar she hosted on sustainability.

She is passionate about “inspiring people to live more sustainably in a home that looks fantastic, doesn’t cost the earth (literally) and that you truly love”.

With a wealth of knowledge about upcycling I have asked her how upcycling can contribute to making clutter count.

upcycled jars

Warriors on waste

Lynne is on a mission to educate people and provide them with the tools, knowledge, expertise and passion they need to become upcylers and warriors on waste. She inspires people to think differently and to question the need to buy new, thus helping to reduce the use of landfill and help preserve the Earth’s natural resources.

Her Warrior on Waste movement is going from strength to strength.

Lynne firmly believes that “making a stylish home does not mean rushing out and buying new”. In her words, “A home should be where you have the things you love, the original one-off pieces that you find that make you happy every time you look at them, the things customised to your style”.

I could not agree more.

Every year so much furniture in the UK and elsewhere is thrown away and ends up in landfill, so there is no better time to stop and think about educating ourselves on the importance of contributing to a circular economy by bringing sustainability to interior designs in our homes.

an upcycled chest of drawers

How can we achieve that?

The answer is simple: upcycling, recycling, shopping second-hand, and using sustainable materials whenever we can.

Updating and reinventing unwanted material into useful repurposed products, or transforming a piece of furniture into something unique and different, turning ‘trash into treasure’ by making good use of what we can already find around the house is what upcycling is all about.

Here in the UK, charities such as The British Heart Foundation are leading the way towards a more sustainable circular economy. Their free collection of unwanted goods (which will hopefully resume once COVID-19 restrictions are eased) makes it super-easy to get rid of things and get them back into the system – ready to be bought and used again and again by someone else, the result being no landfill and no waste.

The great news is upcycling won’t cost you the earth.

Lynne’s tips

Lynne has shared some fabulous tips with us :

  • Be sympathetic to the piece
  • Use chalk paint – she is a fan of Annie Sloan
  • Use techniques such as re-waxing, liming, decoupage
  • Be creative when repurposing things, so example turn ladders into shelves and crates into bookcases
  • Her best advice: don’t be scared to try! You didn’t love it as it was, so you have nothing to lose!

an upcycled garden bench surrounded by plants

Acts of care

Lynne puts the word CARE at the heart of everything she does. For her that also means “extending the love you have for your home and family to the planet through the choices you make”.

Making sure that what we put in our homes does not have a detrimental effect on future generations is the first act of care. Small changes can make a massive difference. We are human, we are not perfect, and that is OK. However, we can acknowledge that there are ways in which we can make our lives more sustainable for the planet, for our children, and for generations to come.

Professional organisers can help you see your possessions in a different light and suggest ways to reuse and repurpose items, encouraging you to think before you buy. From food to toys and everything in between, reassessing our needs as consumers and becoming more intentional buyers rather than impulsive ones is a big step forward.

I could not agree with Lynne and her ethos more. I strive to help my clients realise that looking at a simpler way of living will not only free up their minds and their space but is, in fact, the biggest gift for our planet.

For more advice and tips on what to do with your decluttered items, take a look at “Making clutter count: Decluttering during the pandemic” and “10 ways to donate your decluttered items that you may not have thought of!” where our APDO experts have been sharing their suggestions for Spring Clearing Week 2021.

A warm hearth in a cosy home

Why is Home so fundamental to our wellbeing?

Caroline Rogers set up Room to Think in 2013. She recently achieved a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology where she completed research into the association between clutter and wellbeing. This has been published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.5

“I think that when you invite people to your home, you invite them to yourself” – Oprah Winfrey 

I believe that home could be given far more attention than it currently receives in its contribution to wellbeing. Positive psychologists continue to debate exactly what ‘wellbeing’ is, but they do agree it’s much more than just feeling a bit chipper. It’s about having meaning and purpose in life, good relationships, health and a sense of achievement and belonging. How – and where – we live is rarely a consideration.

Yet if you trawl through the scholarly literature on home, there are constant references to home as a place of sanctuary. It’s the one place where we can really be ourselves and – hopefully – feel safe. One scholar used words like ‘womb’, ‘nest’ and ‘cradle’1, almost as if home (could) provide a sense of being perfectly parented. Where else can we feel secure enough to dance like nobody’s watching, behave badly, get naked, be private or say things we wouldn’t put on Twitter?

Home and self-identity

There is one predominant, permeating component within all the home literature. Home’s connection with – and expression of – self-identity: who we are, what we do and where we’re going. That quote above attributed to Oprah Winfrey nailed it in a sentence. She’s absolutely right. Consider the background in our Zoom calls. Google is full of endless debate on what messages are being delivered and received about us. Such messages are interpreted based on choices to show things like bookshelves, ironing, clutter, or the use of virtual pictures and video off. There’s a reason that TV programme “Through the Keyhole” had such a long run. (The host Lloyd Grossman would invite panels to guess the celebrity owners of specific homes). We’re good at making those guesses – and more often than not we’re correct.

Whether it’s through the keyhole or on Zoom, the message that our homes portray us is backed up in scholarly study. Imagine how much fun it would have been to be one of researcher Sam Gosling’s study participants. You’d have been asked to make inferences about people’s personalities based on looking at photos of their rooms. It’s notable that Goslings’ participants not only made inferences consistent with each other, but that their inferences were “often accurate”.2

In the 1980s Russell Belk wrote a seminal academic paper about possessions being ‘extensions of the self’3. I’d join Oprah in going as far as saying that homes are extensions of the self – they represent who we are, where we’re going, what we’re like and, possibly most importantly, they deliver that message to the rest of the world – and to ourselves.

Whatever that message is, it’s either helpful or unhelpful to our wellbeing. And the good thing is that when it’s unhelpful, there’s something we can do about it. And if it’s too overwhelming to do it alone, then there are hundreds of APDO members out there who can help.

Caroline Rogers and family at home

Caroline and family at home (Photo by Nina Sprange)

A home that is “more me”

When we can look around our homes and feel they communicate who we are, chances are that our wellbeing will be higher than it is for people who feel their homes are “not me” or “not how I want to be”. A US research study about to be published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology4 backs this up. These researchers collected data from people at early stages of the pandemic lockdown and found ‘a clear relationship between an individual’s attachment to home and positive mental health’. Those who have created homes that express who they are exhibited higher wellbeing than those who haven’t.

I’m disturbed that the same researchers found “considerable variability” in home attachment among their respondents. It feels wrong when people don’t live in homes that express their identity’ especially when curating a home in line with self-identity is so possible. In the professional organising industry, we witness change. And yes, the changes can be seen in clients’ homes being less cluttered and more organised. However, the more meaningful change is in the homeowners themselves. I’ve worked with people who start new careers, take up exercise, change their relationships, socialise more, communicate better with their housemates, eat better, sleep better and have richer, fuller lives. All of them would attribute this to having a home that’s more them.

Creating a home that is ‘more me’ is a fruitful – and essential – thing to do. And perhaps that’s more important than ever during this time when we’re at home more than usual. I know this in my heart, I see it in my work, and it’s verified in the research I carried out into the association between clutter and wellbeing. I was able to analyse data from 1,111 kind people who completed ‘a battery’ of questionnaires telling us about their clutter, wellbeing and their homemaking ability/habits. We identified that almost a quarter of the variance in wellbeing among our participants was explained by their home making habits and feeling ok about their clutter5.

Just as it’s already been empirically established that our actions and behaviours (such as being kind, grateful, healthy etc.6) can substantially contribute to our wellbeing, let’s now give ourselves permission to allow ourselves to invest some time and energy into curating self-identity in our homes. Please let me share the last sentence of my research with you:

Home is a platform for wellbeing.

We are delighted to welcome Caroline as a Keynote Speaker at the APDO Conference “The Future Is Re-Organised” on 20 May 2021. You can find out more about Caroline, her research and her contribution to the conference programme on her conference speaker page.

Refs:

  1. Ginsberg, R. (1999). Mediations on homelessness and being at home: In the form of a dialogue. In G. J. M. Abbarno (Ed.), The Ethics of Homelessness: Philosophical Perspectives (Vol.86, pp. 29-40). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  2. Gosling, S. D., Ko, S. J., Mannarelli, T., & Morris, M. E. (2002). A room with a cue: Personality judgments based on offices and bedrooms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(3), 379–398.
  3. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the Extended Self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139–168.
  4. Meagher, B. R., Cheadle, A. D., College, H., & College, K. (2020, in press). Distant from others, but close to home: The relationship between home attachment and mental health during COVID-19. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 72, 10156
  5. Rogers, C. J., & Hart, R. (2021). Home and the extended-self: Exploring associations between clutter and wellbeing. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 73(April 2020),
  6. Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G.J. et al. Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health 13, 119 (2013)

A look back at National Organising Week 2020

National Organising Week was always going to be a bit different this year. The pandemic meant that our usual flurry of organising activities, from workshops to get-togethers, advice clinics to parties, were unable to take place for NOW 2020. But that didn’t stop us focusing on a week of organising and encouraging the nation to help them be more organised!

More organised in the home

This year National Organising Week focused on how to be more organised in the home and how to make our home as functional as possible.

As we continue to live with COVID-19, our homes have become even more important.  Many of us are spending more time at home and likely to be using the space differently: as a shelter, a work or study location, a reduced socialising space and more. Being organised has become a key skill for everyone to develop and make the most of the current challenges.

The aim, as in other years, was that NOW will inspire people to think about the clutter they are living with and take action to do something about it. Of course, APDO members provide one-to-one support all year round.

a family gatherered around a cardboard box marked "donations"

Supporting charities through NOW

APDO members particularly missed getting stuck in to their usual Donate-A-Day volunteering projects that form a key part of our annual NOW campaign, although some members supported local charities in other ways:

  • Jo Forde of Harmonized Living UK donated a decluttering and organising session raffle prize to “Ella’s Fight”, a campaign to raise funds for life-saving cancer treatment for a young woman local to Jo’s business.
  • Kate Galbally of Better Organised is donating the profits from sales of her book “A Better Organised Home in 30 Days” to NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde during October and November.
  • Mel Carruthers of More Organised held her first Trustees meeting for Dumfries refugee action charity Massive Outpouring of Love. Mel first met MOOL with Kate Galbally of Better Organised when they participated in a Donate-A-Day for them in NOW 2017. Mel kept volunteering and was made a Trustee and Secretary of the charity during NOW. Great timing!

Sharing advice

APDO’s activities moved online this year, with many of our organisers running challenges in their Facebook groups, filling their social media full of organising advice (yes even more so than usual!) and running competitions.

APDO supported our colleagues by upping our blogging game for the week, and publishing daily posts, crammed full of advice, tips and guidance on organising your home in the current times. Here is a summary in case you missed them!

an overhead photo of a woman typing at her laptop

Teaming up with iDesign

We were delighted to work with storage innovators iDesign for our NOW giveaway which was run on Instagram. iDesign have always been popular with our members – their clear, stackable bins came in at number 7 on our Top 10 Organising Products list! – but with their recent partnership with US organising sensations The Home Edit, iDesign’s products are selling out across the UK.

Luckily, they saved a couple of sets of 6 of their versatile wire stacking baskets as prizes for two lucky winners. Congratulations to our two lucky winners!

iDesign clear bins and baskets organising cleaning products

Katherine Blackler of Sort My Space, APDO President, looks back at this year’s National Organising Week. “National Organising Week was a little different this year”, she says. “But we are delighted with the response that we had from the campaign, and we loved hearing how we’ve inspired you to change something for the better.”

“We’re always on a mission to make everyday life that little bit easier for individuals, families and organisations”, Katherine continues. “Coronavirus has undoubtedly shifted our focus and feelings about our home environments and we’re here to help anyone who’s been struggling on that front. Support is available via blog posts and social media tips, booking a virtual consultation with an organiser or indeed, teaming up for an onsite session. All our members are following regional advice to be able to work with clients in person as appropriate.”

National Organising Week may be finished for another year, but APDO and our members will continue to share advice, tips and inspiration across our social media accounts and websites. We’re already looking to Spring Clearing Week which will take place from 22 to 28 March 2021!

A comfortable sofa in an organised room setting

Combating complacency

APDO member Marie Bateson, owner of Cut The Clutter in Lancashire, has been thinking about complacency, and the role it plays in our decluttering.  She shares her thoughts with us in this blog post.

Headshot of Marie Bateson

During a recent virtual organising session, my client showed me a clock which had been sitting on the floor of her spare room for about a year. It was too big for her new home, which has lower ceilings than her previous house. She said she didn’t want to part with it, but that she had got complacent about it living on the floor and didn’t really notice it anymore.

The short-term solution for this clock was storing it in the attic, but it got me thinking:

  • How many of us leave pictures, clocks and mirrors hanging in places where they don’t really look right or are not shown to their best advantage?
  • Do we have any that we don’t really like but we simply leave them up due to complacency?
  • As we are currently spending more time than ever in our homes, have we started to look at things a little more closely?

 

  • A single plant with pink flowers in a grey pot

 

Does complacent mean lazy? No, it means you are satisfied with your situation and you don’t feel that any change is necessary. But a change may not actually be a bad thing.

So, I started by looking around my own home and decided to move two pictures to different and better spots.

I asked friends if they had similar experiences to share – any sudden epiphanies – and was pleasantly surprised to learn that one had taken down two pictures and a chalkboard, moved a shelving unit and liked the feeling of space this had given him.

Another had removed some ornaments, admitting that they had never liked them but had stopped seeing them.

A fellow organiser had put a couple of bags of donations on the landing and had been stepping over them for ages. They have now been taken to the charity shop!

I know many of you have decluttered during lockdown, but have you also taken the time to investigate the things which live in a permanent spot and you never really consider? Look again at that pile of papers on the chair in the corner, notice the position of that plant, could you move the furniture around to get a more convenient layout?

Working with a professional organiser could help you look at your space with fresh eyes, and help you to overcome your complacency. You can find your nearest APDO professional organiser on our Find An Organiser database.

APDO member Lynda Wylie's organised cat

3 simple tips for organising your pet supplies

She’s a relatively new pet owner, but Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms in Surrey has already acquired a substantial amount of stuff for her cat! Of course, there’s the essential food and medicine supplies, but there’s also a growing stash of irresistible soft toys, tasty treats and disagreeable (to her cat) grooming brushes. It’s a whole new world of consuming, one which brings with it a new organising challenge.

If you find yourself in a similar situation with your pampered pet, then Lynda has 3 tips to help you keep your supplies accessible and organised for when you need them most.

1 Sort and group similar supplies together

Gather all your pet supplies from around the house and group them into piles of the same category, spreading them out so you can see exactly what you’ve got. You may be surprised by duplicates and long forgotten items. Assess each pile and decide what to keep and what is no longer needed.

Remember to sort your pet papers too. Group everything together – insurance, pet plans and certificates. You might store them in a digital file or a paper one, but the key is to have everything in one place.

2 Use appropriate storage containers

Now you’re ready to decide how to store your keepers. There is a wealth of storage products available, but before you buy new, you may find you can re-purpose items from around your home.

three lablled cereal containers used to store pet food

These cereal containers are perfect for air tight storage of dried pet food and are from IKEA

Clear, plastic storage is a hygienic way to store pet food, medicines and litter. Secure clip lids are useful for stacking and keeping out hungry mouths and little hands. Use big, clear labels even though you can see what’s inside. A small container in each room can also be useful for keeping essential items to hand such as grooming brushes for those opportune moments.

a basket of pet toys

This wicker basket started out as a Christmas hamper but is now used to store toys

A medicine box is a must for your pet’s comfort and your peace of mind. Where would you look for it if you needed it in a hurry? Mell Coleman, a pedigree pet breeder says, “It’s especially important at this time of the year to include allergy relief for stings and bites, as well as flea drops, silver emergency blanket, gauze, syringes, thermometer, antiseptic cream and wound powder”.

an organised and labelled pet medicine box

3 Create zones for specific supplies

Store your supplies where you use them or would look for them if you needed them.

If you have a dog, walking supplies are ideal near your front door so you can quickly grab them on your way out and put them back easily on your return. Use drawer dividers such as empty shoe boxes to group similar items together so your supplies don’t get mixed up together. Fold and stand your pet jackets so you can see them clearly.

an organised drawer of folded pet jackets and treats

A litter zone away from inquisitive eyes with scented nappy sacks nearby for scooping daily poop is another absolute must!

Finally, a feeding station away from busy footfall areas will help your pet relax at meal times – you might even like to set up a treat station for quick behaviour rewards. A dedicated pet cupboard or shelf will also help you keep track of what you have in stock so you don’t run out or over shop.

So when you next feed your pet, why not scan your supplies and see whether any of these tips help you and your furry family friends get organised together.

Thank you to Di Kelly of Simply Organised Home

APDO member Di Kelly's organised dog

Karen Powell The Organising Lady

APDO member Karen Powell's organised dog

and pedigree pet breeder Mell Coleman

Mell Coleman pedigree pet breeder with her prize winningcat

and their furry friends for contributing to Lynda’s post.

APDO member Lynda Wylie's organised cat

You can find your nearest APDO-registered professional organiser here.

 

Click here to read more blog posts from APDO

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.