In honour of National Clear Your Clutter Day, professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn shares her simple and achievable decluttering tips – all designed to help make your home a calm and restful sanctuary from the stresses of daily life.
‘Simple Living’ is how I describe the organised, uncluttered lifestyle I enjoy and that I believe you will too. We are overwhelmed with choices in so many areas of our lives and making one decision after another takes up headspace. This is why I like to keep things simple at home. Imagine that you are you eating out at a lovely restaurant, one where the menu goes on for pages and pages. Everything looks delicious, but you feel overwhelmed and paralysed by choice. Personally, I find it so much easier to make a decision when there are fewer dishes on offer. This theory applies to scenarios throughout your home: picture your wardrobe, your toiletries, your child’s mass of toys . . . often there is simply too much to choose from. There is no need to have cupboards bursting with cups and cutlery, bathrooms clogged with an endless array of products and wardrobes crowded with more outfits than we have time to wear. By clearing space and taking away unnecessary choices we can make our days more streamlined and cut out some of the decisions we are faced with.
Hands up those who don’t have enough hours in the day! Well, my hand is well and truly up and I’m guessing yours is too. I juggle running my businesses, a social life, seeing family, the odd bit of exercise (my hula hoop!) and of course some time for my wellbeing – and most days I feel every minute is accounted for. The majority of people don’t have whole days free that they can allocate to reorganising their wardrobe or decluttering their kitchen – and they are usually setting themselves up for failure if they try. Clearly I do spend days at a time on such tasks (it’s my job!) but I would not necessarily encourage everyone to tackle their own home in this way, especially those with busy lives. The key to a successful declutter is breaking the job down into small, bite-sized chunks. Occasionally I help clients who have approached a huge task believing they will get through it in a day and then, for various everyday – life reasons, end up abandoning the whole project. Often what’s left, through having to stop mid- task, is worse than what they started with. Trust my experience here: tackling an area properly (and I mean to do the job really, really well, to a level that makes total sense) will take longer than you think. It just isn’t practical to view a room, or even all of your clothes, as a task that you can get through all in one go. Yes, it could be done, but
not to a standard that will have long- term benefits for you.
Imagine how satisfying it would be to set yourself a smaller challenge – say, reorganising one drawer, going through its contents carefully and thoroughly and completing the task without rushing. Trust me, the buzz you will get from this will give you more satisfaction than you think. Closing that drawer, knowing its contents are in order, all clutter removed, will be the biggest motivator that you need. I know you’ll be fuelled to tackle another drawer, maybe not straight away, but at the next opportunity. Aim to set aside a small period of time every day to keep the flow going, but don’t put yourself under pressure if you miss a day – just pick it up as soon you can. Let your decluttering motto be ‘little and often’.
Too often these days we are all about the quick fix; we crave instant results and gratification. But if we want to properly overhaul the way our homes are organised we have to break the task down – it is unlikely that your entire home can be decluttered in one big hit. Our busy lifestyles just don’t allow it . . . unless of course I come knocking at your door! Instead of setting our sights on the end goal, we need to delight in the small steps that we can take on the way. And, believe me, dramatic results can be achieved over just a couple of weeks. Think of this as ‘mindful decluttering’ and follow these simple rules in areas you might be tackling at home or work:
- Choose a small cupboard, drawer or area.
- Make sure you have your bags for rubbish and charity ready.
- Dedicate twenty minutes to sorting the contents of the place you’ve chosen, without interruptions if possible.
- Allow yourself to become totally immersed in the task.
- Methodically go through the contents, reassessing what stays and what goes, focusing on one item at a time.
- Don’t become distracted or worry about areas of the room yet to be tackled.
- Put any ‘sentimental’ items to one side to look at properly later, not now.
- Clean the area, for a fresh start.
- Neatly replace the relevant items back in the drawer in categories.
- Enjoy the satisfaction you get when the task is completed and feel that just-tidied buzz.
- Imagine this level of organisation applied to every area of your home.
Believe me, if you scare yourself by biting off more than you can chew, you risk abandoning the task and putting it off for weeks, months or even years. This method eases you in and once you get started, you’ll just want to keep going!
Vicky Silverthorn started her business You Need a Vicky in 2010. After ten years working as a PA for names such as Lily Allen, she wanted to concentrate on the area of professional organisation and decluttering. Vicky is inundated with requests to help people get their homes back on track, helping in any capacity to create simplistic and practically organised home environments. Her first book, Start With Your Sock Drawer: The Simple Guide to Living a Less Cluttered Life is available now.