Tag Archives: Spring Clearing Week

The APDO online directory helps UK clients find a local organiser to suit their particular organising/decluttering needs. | Spring Clearing Week Tag

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.

someone packing charity donations

10 ways to donate your decluttered items that you may not have thought of!

With the usual avenues for donating decluttered things either closed or restricted, we’ve had to get creative and work a little harder at clearing out our clutter. In this post we look at interesting solutions from our APDO members for the more unusual items they’ve come across and the unexpected destinations they’ve discovered for their clients’ cast offs. Perhaps there is something here that already exists in your local area and would benefit from your Spring clearing clear out.

Donate to animal welfare

Many of us love to support animal welfare and Marie Bateson of Cut the Clutter is no exception. She takes any towels, dressing gowns, fleeces and sweatshirts to Chorley Hedgehog Rescue. Your local animal rescue centre, zoo or pet shop might have specific needs during the pandemic. However, it is best to check with them directly and find out the best way to support the animals in their care.

When Longleat Safari Park made a Christmas appeal for bedding for their chipmunk family., Amanda Terry of An Organised You seized the opportunity and donated a huge bag of client socks. The campaign was hugely successful, the park keepers were overwhelmed with donations so they’re no longer collecting, but one-off requests like this can be a fabulous opportunity for quickly clearing out of specific items in your home.

APDO member Di Kelly's organised dog

Repairing, re-using and borrowing

In Bath, Carole Reed of Happy Sort loves her local Share and Repair organisation. They run workshops manned by volunteers who mend broken items for free. You can also donate unwanted items to their ‘Library of Things’ which can then be hired out. The library has items such as power tools, camping equipment and event supplies. It’s very affordable to hire and they are always looking for more stock. Library of Things – Bath Share and Repair. There are similar organisations can all round the country.

Men’s Sheds are also a great place to donate all those bits in garages and sheds that you keep hold of, says Louise Simpson of Louise Simpson Coaching. ‘Things like old clocks, tools and lawnmowers will be fixed and sold on to raise vital funds to keep the charity going’.

Louise also suggests contacting your local children’s outdoor play or wilderness place. The one near her takes anything from bits of wood, kitchen utensils (broken or usable), bowls and much more to use for outdoor creative play.

Donate to people in need

In Surrey, Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms has been excited to discover the Save the World Club on her doorstep. It is a local charity which collects anything that can be redistributed to local people via their warehouse called The Circulatory. Keen to keep stuff out of landfill, they have an army of volunteers repairing bicycles, tools and electrical equipment for redistribution amongst local people. They even collect food from local supermarkets for families in need. The volunteers are very creative, even filling empty shipping containers to send to people in need in Uganda or creating art installations to highlight waste issues.

The Save The World Club van outside the depot with bags of donations

The Save The World Club in Surrey

Mel Carruthers of More Organised agrees with Lynda. Mel is a Trustee of her local refugee action charity Massive Outpouring of Love, (MOOL). MOOL collect clothing, camping equipment and luggage for refugees and asylum seekers in France, Greece and the Middle East, as well as clothing, furniture and household goods to support families in Scotland. Many towns and cities across the country have similar organisations, or you can check the Care 4 Calais map for your nearest drop off point.

Donate clothing

Clothing is one of the largest categories that we declutter. Anne Welsh of Tidy Beginnings is interested in what happens to our clothing and textiles once we donate them. “The most sustainable way to donate clothing is to give them to clothing banks”, Anne explains.  “I.e. those that collect clothes to be distributed to those in need, and where they will actually be reworn – as opposed to being sold as rags and pulped”. To find your nearest clothes bank (and other recycling facilities), Anne recommends checking out www.recyclenow.com, where you enter your postcode for a list of options in your community.

Furs are often difficult to dispose of. Sue Spencer from A Life More Organised once came across a full fox stole (complete with head and feet) whilst working with a client. “Luckily the client had prewarned me that we’d find it somewhere” says Sue.  “We discussed several ways to pass this on to someone who would really love to own it.  My client wasn’t interested in getting any money from selling it, so it was donated to the costume section of a local amateur dramatic society. We knew that they would look after it well and make use of it in their productions”.

someone holding a pile of donated clothing

Solutions for paper

For your paper waste, Esme Fisher of Tidy Coaching recommends First Mile, an environmentally-conscious recycling and shredding company which is keen to keep all waste out of landfill. “If you are decluttering your papers and need a secure shredding service, you can sign up for shredding bags to be sent to your door” says Esme. “Fill them up with your confidential papers and they will be collected for free from your door by DBS-checked operatives (in low emission vehicles) and taken to the First Mile secure industrial shredder”.

And finally, The Great Diary Project is a wonderful initiative accepting diaries from ‘ordinary’ people at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. Anne explains, “There’s a simple deposit form to complete but it’s straightforward and the institute is a great final resting place for family diaries”.

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas of places that you could donate your own decluttered items to, or similar organisations and projects in your own community. It’s always a good idea to contact them first to check what they need and can accept. And for more tips on how to declutter during lockdown, our recent post “Making clutter count: Decluttering during the pandemic” is packed full of advice from APDO experts!

 

If you’re ready to have a Spring clear out but not sure what to do with your items, maybe there’s a local initiative you could support or a national organisation ready to accept your donation. Your local Professional Organiser will be able to support you with your decision making and can be found at www.apdo.co.uk.

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 pile of folded jeans being packed into a box

Making clutter count: Decluttering during the pandemic

The pandemic has forced us to spend more time at home, with many of us eating, working, studying and relaxing in the same space for the past year. Lots of us have been working alongside school science experiments, created hand sanitizer stations and squeezed loo rolls into cupboards unusually full of extra pasta, flour and beans.

Whatever pandemic living has looked like for you, the things and space around you have probably become much more noticeable and you may even have been inspired (or forced) to declutter your surroundings in order to live more comfortably indoors.

Decluttering advice from the experts

We asked our APDO members what tips and advice they had for decluttering during a pandemic and how to get rid of the stuff you no longer need.

Sue Spencer of A Life More Organised is a certified KonMari consultant and encourages people to understand first of all the reason they want to declutter and make a difference. “I know this isn’t anything new, but it’s always a useful reminder for people working on their own” says Sue. “Recognising your motivation and having a clear view of how you want your home to look and feel not only gives you the incentive to get going, but it also acts as a check back on whether to keep items. It provides useful incentive too if you get to a sticking point halfway through and it all feels a bit much”.

Carole Reed from HappySort acknowledges that, “it has been, and continues to be, difficult to declutter because charity shops are closed and most are not accepting donations”.

Where to donate your decluttered items

So, what can you do with your decluttered cast offs?

Carole suggests that you earmark a box or bag in which to put items that are no longer needed. It will be easier to dispose of the item when the time comes if you have already removed it from your living space. This will help you keep on top of your clutter until charity shops re- open.

Sue goes on to suggest that, if you are desperate to get the items out of your house, a number of charities are accepting postal donations. For example, many hospices are accepting donations online or at safe mobile sites which you can check out online.

Shelter, Air Ambulance and British Heart Foundation are all accepting donations of clothing via post-in boxes up to 10 kilograms, measuring up to 60cm x 50cm x 50cm.

Other organisations accepting donations by post include, Smalls for All, Re-Fashion.co.uk and Alzheimer’s Society.

And for further advice about donating, some of our APDO members have put together this post “10 ways to donate your decluttered items that you may not have thought of!” which is packed full of ideas and organisations where you can make your clutter count.

Planning your decluttering

Amanda Terry from An Organised Youhttps://www.anorganisedyou.co.uk/ says “Ask yourself, ‘If I don’t have a use for something anymore, is there someone I know or a cause that will benefit from my decluttering as well as benefiting my own space and wellbeing?'”.

Like Amanda, Esme Fisher of Tidy Coaching suggests identifying charities or companies which are taking donations or selling items during the pandemic, and then specifically decluttering the items they are accepting.

Esme also suggests that you set yourself manageable goals. “Declutter one category of items at a time, for example, clothing and make sure the items have left your home before you start on the next decluttering task. If you don’t work in this methodical way, your donation bags will build up and become even more overwhelming than the clutter!”

clothes rails and shelves in an organised charity shop

Using social media

Facebook community groups have worked well for many. They are a way for local people to give things away during lockdown as they may otherwise not have been able to pass things on until shops reopen.

For example, Bibi Rodley and Kate Curtis-Evans at Simply Organised Essex say that one of their clients has recently relocated from America. Some of her furniture is too big for her new home in Essex because American-style houses can be larger and more open plan. As they explain, “She had to get rid of her very large bookcases quickly before her new ones arrived. This was at Christmas, during lockdown and she didn’t know what to do. We suggested she tried the local community Facebook group and the bookcases sold within a day. She has used Facebook again to dispose of larger items that her children had outgrown, both through giving things away and by selling them”.

Louise Simpson of Louise Simpson Coaching agrees. “Facebook community groups are a great way to find your local charities and you can start by putting up a post asking for details. Most charities have a Facebook page and often post details of the items they are most in need of, but they usually welcome a call to check too”.

Louise goes on to explain that, throughout the pandemic, her local women’s refuge and homeless charities have needed donations more than ever as they have been faced with an increasing number of people needing their support. “You can help by donating lots of items, from food to clothing”, she says.  “They also need items such as furniture and kitchen items to help people get set up in new homes. You can help someone start over with the things taking up space in your home which you no longer have a use for. Due to infection controls they have even been asking for carrier bags to hand out items – no better excuse to clear out that growing stash in your cupboard and why not fill them with items to donate?”

Mel Carruthers of More Organised agrees. As a Trustee for her local refugee action charity, Mel has seen the pandemic’s effect on our decluttering from both sides, both as a professional organiser and as a charity volunteer. “Our depot has been closed throughout the pandemic”, she explains. “But that hasn’t stopped us being able to provide support where we can, usually by issuing requests for help through our social media pages. For example, last weekend we collected unwanted luggage and camping equipment to send to asylum seekers in London. When we heard of the acute need, we were able to tell our followers, ask them to declutter those items, and arrange for them to be safely dropped off at our depot”.

So keep an eye on your favourite charity’s social media. Their shops may be closed, but their work continues, and they need your support at the moment more than ever. And they may be able to give you a solution for your decluttered items.

Upcycling

If you can’t find anywhere to take your donations, maybe you could turn your hand to an upcycling project.

Stephanie Rough of The Organised Zone recommends reusing bottles to make a terrarium. She explains, “A lovely bottle of local gin from some friends now sits on the windowsill providing lots of lovely memories of our former home and, best of all, it’s very low maintenance! If you are green fingered, you can create these yourself or find a producer such as Gin Garden”.  She adds, “Another popular idea is for you to fill empty bottles with string lights to add sparkle to any entertaining area inside or out”.

a bottle upcycled into a terrarium

Anabel Morte Rodenas from Make Room With Anabel says, “If you are a bit like me and don’t like to throw away bags, I’ve found a clever way to upcycle them, reducing clutter and improving organisation, win, win!! Use them as containers, for drawer organisation, for snacks, you name it. For paper bags, just cut them across – I use zig-zag scissors for a fun touch. You can also fold them to the right height. For the plastic ones, I find folding them gives them strength”.

If these suggestions have sparked an interest in upcycling, APDO member Linda Cavallini interviewed interior designer and upcycling expert Lynne Lambourne for Spring Clearing Week recently in this post “Upcycling: Design that won’t cost the earth“.

a photo grid showing bags being cut up into drawer dividers

If you’ve decided to declutter during the pandemic but are stuck about what to do with your unwanted things, your local declutterer and organiser will be able to help. Check out the Find an Organiser database to find your nearest professional.

 

Open notebook and a pen next to a pot plant

Spring Clearing Week wrapped up!

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

 

decluttered organised bedroom

We were delighted to guest post for:

 

organised boxes in a white room ready for unpacking

We shared these intriguing initiatives happening outside APDO:

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

APDO Spring Clearing Week 2019 logo

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

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

APDO Spring Clearing Week 2019 logo

In conversation with BuyMeOnce

Tara Button, CEO & Founder of BuyMeOnce, is at the forefront of the global movement to change the way we shop and live forever, championing the longest-lasting and most sustainable products on Earth. 

In the spirit of Spring Clearing Week 2019, professional organiser and APDO member Caroline Rogers spoke to Tara, to find out more about the movement, the website and how we can all benefit. 

 

You can find out more about Spring Clearing Week 2019 here!

APDO Spring Clearing Week 2019 logo

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

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

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

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

Clearing clutter at home

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

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

Clearing calendar commitments

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

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

A vase of daffodils on an organised coffee table

Creating clearer thinking

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

Spring Clearing Week Resources

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

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

Headshot of APDO President Katherine Blackler

Presidents Day: An interview with Katherine Blackler, APDO President

18th February is Presidents Day – what better day than to have a catch up with our APDO President Katherine Blackler. Katherine runs her company SortMySpace Ltd in South East London, but has taken some time out today to share her story with us.

How did you get into your chosen career and why?

I left a fast-paced project manager role in the corporate world to work out “what makes my heart sing”. I had spent 15 years in the City organising people and processes but was experiencing a disconnect. Whenever I was plugged into the day job, I just couldn’t reflect easily.

In the past, I’d travelled between work contracts to gain perspective and inspiration. This time I decided to stay put in London and refurbish my small home instead. While I was sleeping on a friend’s sofa-bed to dodge the dust of the building work, I noticed an article on minimalism which my best friend had left out. The William Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” jumped out at me. It changed the way I created my new space and saw my possessions. And, unbeknown to me, it started to shape my new career path.

I then took a six-week road trip across the USA where I found myself helping out my host families: organising the trunk of a sleep-deprived mum’s car to have items for the ‘top-end’ of their kids in one box and items pertaining to the ‘bottom-end’ in another!  I made suggestions for my cousins in Chicago on how to use their space differently to save the hassle of moving to a new house. I even found myself in IKEA with a tape measure within 24 hours of meeting one of my brother’s friends in LA!

At that point I’d never heard the concept of a professional organiser and declutterer, but it made me realise this was something I genuinely enjoyed and that it could be an expanding market in the UK in the near future. Amusingly, I initially googled the term “efficient living consultant” as I had no idea what I’d be called if I made the jump!

A group photo of APDO Board members

The APDO Board in January 2019, one of 3 live meetings a year that the APDO Board hold

How did you become APDO’s President?

I first volunteered to be part of the APDO conference team as I have experience of running events from my corporate life. The Board felt I would be a good fit for a new role as Head of Partnerships and Campaigns helping to connect the Association with relevant businesses and charities whose focus or products overlap with the work our members do. I introduced the concept of Donate a Day during National Organising Week 2016 whereby our members get together to give their time and expertise to a charity for the day. It started with one event in London with six organisers and by 2018’s National Organising Week, we had almost 40 members supporting 12 charities across the UK. That’s one of my proudest APDO achievements – thus far!

I then introduced a second campaign week to APDO’s diary and we launched Spring Clearing Week in 2018 as a twist on the traditional spring cleaning idea. We are expecting Spring Clearing Week to grow year on year now in the same way as National Organising Week has.

In April 2017 I became APDO’s President-Elect, shadowing the then President Ingrid Jansen (Organise Your House). I stepped up in April 2018 for a two-year term as President. When I step off the board, I’ll become Past President for one year, on-hand for advice and support to the next President.

Group photo of Katherine Blackler and APDO colleagues

Katherine and APDO colleagues during the first Donate a Day at Dress for Success during National Organising Week 2016

What do you hope to achieve during your Presidency?

I’d said in my manifesto that I want every household in the UK to know what a professional organiser and declutterer is before I step down! Nothing like an enormous goal to keep you focused (or permanently in post!). That’s not to say every household will also engage a professional organiser, but without knowing that our members and their services exist they won’t be able to even entertain the idea.

I’m convinced the concept is catching on. Anyone joining the industry now is getting an easier time finding clients and building their business than even a few years ago, even if it still feels slow to them! But we still have a long way to go until our services are as recognised and embraced as those of a window cleaner or a plumber.

I appreciate that you can now watch videos on YouTube on how to tile a bathroom (or indeed improve organisation in your wardrobe) but if you call in an expert it’ll be done in a fraction of the time, be tailored to your exact needs and it comes off your to-do list so you can do things you enjoy more!

What do you get from the President’s role?

Volunteering for APDO is undoubtedly a big commitment but it’s such an exciting time to be involved in this growing industry; I wouldn’t miss it for the world! We’re at a challenging transition point for the association as we position ourselves as THE go-to resource for professional organisers and the public. My board members, past and present, are a true inspiration. They are an enormous support as I learn and develop to be the best version of me that I can.

I see this role as supporting my personal goals of spreading the word further whether that’s speaking on stage, radio or TV (as well as continuing to work one-to-one with my clients). I feel our physical environment is so important to the way we operate and how we respond to the world and life’s curveballs. If I can help more people achieve some balance and joy that brings me huge satisfaction; it’s the ‘personal connection’ puzzle piece I was missing in my City days!

Screen shot of a video conference screen during an APDO virtual Board meeting

An APDO virtual Board meeting, one of 3 virtual meetings that the APDO Board hold each year

Why the sudden massive interest in decluttering and organising?

It’s been growing steadily for the past decade, but conversations have undoubtedly spiked with the Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo and her new show hitting Netflix this January. The fact that APDO has doubled our membership from 150 to over 300 members in the past 3 years demonstrates an increase in awareness as this as a career or business choice too.

With time being the most precious commodity of all, we’re all trying to find ways to gain time for friends, family and memorable experiences. One way to do that is to reduce what you need to curate, maintain, repair and replace in your home.  Great initiatives like the Library of Things are expanding where you can borrow household appliances that you only use once or twice a year instead of buying and storing them yourself.

I feel that social media is helping spread awareness about our buying patterns and the impact on the environment, especially issues like single-use plastic or throwaway clothing, so consumer habits are shifting too. These environmental trends align with the work we’re doing decluttering and asking our clients to consciously consider what’s necessary or joyful for them whilst trying to stem future influxes of items into their space.

I’m excited to see how things unravel over the next few years for APDO and all its members.

If Katherine’s story has inspired you to consider a career as a professional organiser, you can find out more about joining APDO here.

Happy Passover spring clearing

Spring clearing before Passover, the festival of freedom

For many Jewish families in the UK and beyond, spring clearing is a tradition that dates back thousands of years, because it’s linked to the festival of Passover which starts this year on the eve of 30 March. In this guest blog, Juliet Landau-Pope (JLP Coach) outlines the meaning of Passover and explains why the festival of freedom is an ideal opportunity to make time and space for what matters most.

What’s it all about?

Passover celebrates the redemption of the Hebrew slaves (Israelites) from the land of Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land. The name recalls the ten plagues sent by God to punish Pharoah and the Egyptians for rejecting Moses’ plea to ‘let my people go’. According to the book of Exodus, the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Israelites and so they were spared.

Ultimately, Passover is a festival of freedom. (The Hebrew name for the holiday is Pesach from which the Latin and Greek word for Easter, Pascha, is derived.) According to tradition, the Israelites fled from Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to let their bread rise. That’s why Jews eat matzah, unleavened cracker-like bread, made only of flour and water.

A feast of freedom

Passover is one of the most important Jewish festivals; many who don’t identify as religious choose to take part in a seder, a festive evening that marks the beginning of the holiday. The meal is accompanied by songs, stories and discussions to encourage everyone present to participate. It includes many symbols to engage the senses: salt water to represent the tears of slaves; charoset, a paste made of nuts and dates that resembles the cement of the pyramids; and bitter herbs to signify the suffering of our ancestors.

Making space to share with others

Hospitality is a central theme of Passover so clearing space at home to welcome guests is an important part of the preparations. In addition to family members, it’s traditional to invite guests so hosting a seder is a feat of organisation – it’s often a long and rambunctious evening that requires a great deal of planning and preparation, such as moving furniture, extending tables, and borrowing extra chairs. To celebrate that we are no longer slaves, who had to eat while standing, there’s an emphasis on sitting comfortably or lounging on cushions.

Clearing and cleaning

During Passover, Jews traditionally refrain from eating foods made of grains – bread, pasta and cereals are off the menu. More observant Jews even use different cutlery and crockery so before the holiday, regular kitchenware is put away. Spring clearing before Passover is legendary.

To prevent contact with ‘forbidden’ foodstuffs, it’s customary to sweep and scrub every nook and cranny of the home and workplace. From cabinets and cupboards, fridges and furniture, you never know where those pesky breadcrumbs might lurk so it’s vital to clear before cleaning.

Past, present and future

Passover not only provides a history lesson but also a call to action, reminding us of the need to combat oppression and injustice that exists in the world today. Slavery can also be regarded as a metaphor for pressures of modern life, the ways in which we become enslaved by competition and consumerism, for example. Passover invites us to think about the personal meaning of liberation – how are you encumbered by the stuff in your space and in your schedule?

May this new season bring peace, freedom and positive change to all. And if you’re celebrating Passover, here’s to a chag Pesach sameach.

Juliet Landau-Pope is a declutter coach and study skills consultant. She has written two books: Being More Productive and Clearing Your Clutter.

If you need some help with your own spring clearing, you can find your local professional organiser here.