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https://www.declutterwithhannah.com/

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.

apdo blog - getting family on board with decluttering - basket

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.

drowning in paperwork organising decluttering paper desk2

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.

drowning in paperwork organising declluttering paper magazines

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.

apdo organised autumn garden leaves

Autumn organising for the garden

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

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

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

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

apdo organised autumn garden

Clean up

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

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

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

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

Clean out and disinfect bird boxes.

apdo organised autumn garden furniture organising decluttering

Tidy away

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

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

Trim the hedges and help overwintering wildlife

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

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

Declutter and reorganise the garden shed

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

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

apdo organised autumn garden pots

Prepare for autumn rains and gales

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

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

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

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

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

Plant and move

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

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

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

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

apdo organised autumn garden tulip

Take time to wonder and admire

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

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

APDO blog - organised travel

The Holiday Afterglow

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

Your luggage

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

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

laundry unpacking organising

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

Your car

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

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

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

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

 

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

Your home

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

organised entrance hallway decluttered

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

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

Catching up with everyone

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

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

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

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

APDO organised camping tent

Happy campers!

It’s still festival season, so Catriona Watson, Oxford-based professional organiser and owner of Clear Space for Me has consulted some experienced festival-goers and shares their tips here.

It’s no surprise that the happiest campers are often organised, good planners, skilled at packing lots of stuff into small spaces. From Green Man and Reading, to Glastonbury and even Burning Man, here are some tips for an organised and happy festival experience!

Wheels

Bring cat litter and planks to get out of a muddy patch. Lights can decorate your bike or car (as well as your body and your tent).

Food

We enjoyed buying food out and only bothered to pack snacks.  Personally though I need my cuppa first thing in the morning, so I’m packing coffee-making arrangements even though this will significantly add to my carrying weight. Bringing snacks will help you stick to your budget. But be kind to yourself – you are on holiday!

Money

This leads us to cash. Make sure you have enough money to buy food and drink, and maybe some interesting festie shopping items. It’s easy to spend £40-£50 a day, so budget accordingly.

Drink

Be prepared! Bumps and bruises under the influence of a delicious cider will make plasters and Savlon most welcome. A plastic lid and straw for the top of your pint glass will help keep the wasps and spills under control. A cup is a must anyway. Restrictions on what can be brought onto festival sites, especially in terms of drinks, have led to some fascinating smuggling strategies! (I will limit myself to the observation that it helps if you are a naturally curvy woman!).

 

APDO organised festival camping lights

Self-care

Consider indigestion tablets, a plan for how you will pee at night, tissues for clean-ups of all sorts, and some idea of how delicious you are to midges – and prepare accordingly. Also, if you are offered a VIP pass to a nice loo, take it.

Bedding

A foil blanket on the ground beneath your sleeping area is surprisingly helpful, keeping out damp and chill. And it sound obvious, but make sure you have a big enough tent for your body and all of your stuff.

Silly ideas!

“A feather headdress and sequins, and a credit card” was suggested to me! Depending on where you are going, that is actually not so dumb an idea! It will be easier for your mates to find you in a crowd, at least!

 

Experiences add to our memory banks, bringing meaning to our lives, and building our resilience to stress. What’s not to love? Have a fantastic time!

If you need help getting organised this summer, you can find your local professional organiser here.

 

APDO Swedish Death Cleaning decluttering organising

Death cleaning: The six basic principles

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

The six basic principles of Swedish Death Cleaning

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

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

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

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

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

1  It’s not sad

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

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

2  Be gentle

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

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

3  No time to rush

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

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

APDO blog Swedish Death Cleaning decluttering organising empty armchair window

4  Think legacy

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

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

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

5  Leave the best to last

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

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

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

Pile of black and white photographs to be organised

6  Tell

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

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

staging your home for sale red front door

Staging your home for sale

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

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

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

Start with your kerb appeal

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

Declutter and depersonalise

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

Check your flooring

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

organised entrance hallway decluttered

Is your décor up to date?

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

Check each room one at a time

Hall

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

Sitting room

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

APDO - staging your home for sale decluttering organising kitchen

Dining Room

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

Bathrooms

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

Bedrooms

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

Kids’ stuff

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

APDO staging your home for sale organising decluttering playroom

Appeal to all the senses

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

And finally

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

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

organised travel holiday organising seashell APDO

How to make the most of your holiday

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

Travelling is all about experiencing things differently

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

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

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

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

APDO blog - organised travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

organised travel beach holiday organising APDO

Post-travel check-in with yourself

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

laundry unpacking organising

The Decluttering Tasks You Can Tackle in Half an Hour

We’re delighted to share this guest blog by APDO member Hannah Young (Revive Your Space) about bite-size decluttering tasks. Hannah is also a contributor for Houzz, the leading platform for home renovation and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device (Original article first published on Houzz)


Got half an hour to spare? Spend it productively with these small organising jobs that will have a big effect:

A really thorough declutter and organising blitz should be done in short chunks over several weeks, but if you don’t have time for this there are still ways to get your home in order. These simple half-hour ideas will be perfect to help you organise the most visible and frequently used areas of your home, to make daily life that little bit easier.

declutter kitchen

Photo by Anthony Edwards Kitchens

Clear your kitchen surfaces

Kitchens can be a clutter magnet, with all sorts of things ending up on the worktop. Items that are used most days can be kept out if you prefer, but try to keep similar items together in attractive storage canisters. This means that multiple items become a single entity, which looks more streamlined, and it also makes cleaning underneath much easier.

Start by clearing all the surfaces in your kitchen – you may be surprised at how much you have accumulated. Think carefully about which items you want to display on the surfaces. A good tip is to keep only those items that you find beautiful, or that are used daily.

Sift out items that you’re happy to let go of, and those that don’t belong in the room. The other items can be stored in cupboards and drawers out of sight.

decluttering services

Photo by Neptune

Streamline your toiletries

Gather together all your toiletries and cosmetics from around your home. Throw away or recycle anything that’s old. You can find out the shelf life of toiletries by looking for a number next to a picture of a pot. There are a few charities who specifically accept new and nearly-new toiletries and cosmetics, such as Give and Makeup. Check online to find organisations locally, too.

As you go along, make note of which items you haven’t used, to ensure you avoid buying them again in the future.

Put items back in cupboards and on shelves and corral smaller things into pretty jars and baskets. This will keep them all together and make it easier to clean the bathroom.

Discover clever storage solutions for bathroom essentials

drawer dividers

Photo by Schmidt Kitchens Palmers Green

Sort the silverware

How many things in your cutlery drawer have ended up there without you realising? Set aside half an hour to completely empty the drawer and sort through everything that’s there. When the drawer is clear, give it all a thorough clean. This is a good time to replace an ill-fitting drawer divider with one that sits neatly, too.

Put aside any unwanted utensils, tools or cutlery to donate to your local charity shop or recycle at the local household waste centre. Then only put back what you want to keep, allocating a section for each type of item, including utensils and baking accessories. The roomy drawer divider pictured even has a section for clingfilm.

Under the sink

Photo by Dura Supreme Cabinetry

Investigate under the sink

Slide-out storage that fits in the awkward area underneath your sink is a great solution to avoid having half-used bottles of cleaning products festering at the back of the cupboard. A good immediate solution is a small box or two that you can pull out like a drawer to easily access products stored at the back.

There are so many single-purpose cleaning solutions available now that it’s easy to end up with zillions of products that are rarely used. With a few exceptions, multi-purpose cleaning products are the best option. And many people are now choosing chemical-free products, or microfibre cloths that can be used simply with water.

cleaning cupboard

Photo by LEICHT New York

Hang up that broom

Broom cupboards can easily get out of control, with mops and brooms falling out every time you open the door. Keep things in order by hanging as much as you can from hooks on the wall. It’s then easy to locate the cleaning implement you need, and to pop it away securely.

Hanging pockets or baskets like those pictured are also a great way to organise your cleaning products, keeping them up high out of the reach of pets and children. Allocate a basket for your cleaning cloths, too. Storing them in this way has the added benefit of allowing them to dry and air between uses.

decluttering services

Photo by Sims Hilditch

Post your mail

Do you have somewhere to put the post in your home? Or do you end up finding unopened mail in random places? A post and stationery station will hopefully make it easier to deal with your incoming letters.

You won’t be able to create a recessed area like this in 30 minutes, but you can easily invest in some wall-mounted pockets or box files. Remember to label each box in a way that works for you. A good place to start is by having a slot for each of the following categories: mail in, to action, to file, mail out.

Tackle the desk

If you need to work from home, it helps to have a clear desk space and everything you might need close to hand.

Before you organise, you’ll need to try out all your pens and chuck any that don’t work. Donate any duplicate tools to charity. Make a note of what you tend to over-buy and put it on your ‘no-need-to-buy’ list.

Utilise shelves for books or relevant files and hang up a pocket tidy to keep all your stationery items in order. If you’ve space for a drawer to hold pens and other stationery essentials, a great way to keep it in order is to use a cutlery tray to compartmentalise different items.

Check out these tidy work spots for small spaces

organised clothes

Photo by California Closets

Sift your socks

A whole wardrobe declutter can be a daunting prospect, but tackling your socks and tights is a perfect place to start. In fact, professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn advises clients to “start with your sock drawer” and has written a book with just that title.

Empty out the drawer onto your bed. Get some shallow boxes to use as dividers and pop these in the drawer. Pair and fold up the socks you’re keeping and pop them away – keep like with like so you can find sports socks or long socks, for example, more easily.

For any socks or tights that are past their best, pop them in a bag, label it ‘rags’ and send it to your local charity shop for recycling. If this motivates you to tackle the rest of your wardrobe, find your local professional organiser through the APDO website.

decluttering services

Photo by Hannah Brown

Encourage your kids

Get your children involved with a 30-minute clear-out in their bedrooms. Empty just one cupboard or toy box, and ask your child what they would like to do with each of the items inside. If they no longer play with a particular toy, ask them if they would like to give it to another child to play with, and introduce the idea of giving to charity.

Start small and avoid overwhelming them with lots of decisions. When one cupboard is tidy, you could give yourselves a reward by playing together with the toys they’ve decided to keep. You can declutter another cupboard or toy box next time.

Discover kids’ room design inspiration

utility room

Photo by Alex Findlater Ltd

Love your linen

A neat and tidy airing cupboard with plenty of space makes putting away linen much less of a chore, so this is a great place to have a 30-minute blitz.

Take an inventory of what sheets and towels you have. You only need two sets of bed linen for each bed – one on the bed and a clean set. The same goes for towels – a maximum of two per person, plus one for each guest that you might have at any one time. Once you’ve done a linen count, you can put any additional sets in the charity bag.

Now put everything back in the cupboard as neatly as possible. Place towels with the fold at the front as it looks neater. A good trick is to keep bed sets folded inside the coordinating pillowcase, so that everything’s together when you need it.


Sometimes your decluttering tasks can appear too overwhelming to tackle alone. If you need specialist expertise and support, look no further than the APDO directory of accredited members. Find your nearest organisers here.