What Caitlin Moran Discovered by Decluttering
Did you see Caitlin Moran’s article in The Times Magazine last weekend? The one about how she thought decluttering was a silly new fad and a load of old nonsense… But, having been persuaded to have a jolly good sort out by a couple of close friends, she later discovered how amazing she felt post purge.
I read it eagerly and couldn’t wait to hear about her experience. As a professional declutterer and home organiser, I am well aware of the benefits of decluttering the home. I see the positive outcomes for my clients on a daily basis. But there’s nothing like having it confirmed in a national newspaper by a public figure, to get the pulse racing.
I'ts Not Just Clutter
Moran quickly makes the connection between our clutter and mental wellbeing stating “never worn clothes nag at you every time you brush past them”
And she’s right, to suggest the negativity created by owning too much. I see this regularly with my own clients whose heads are swimming. There’s the piles of children’s toys bursting out of every cupboard. Mountains of paperwork that need attending to, not to mention the shove shut wardrobes. Physically seeing clutter everywhere you look sends signals to your brain of unfinished tasks or loose ends, and when we are constantly bombarded with those messages, it can be really hard to concentrate and focus on our priorities.
It's Not Just About Storage
My clients often start their journey by thinking they need to be more organised or have better storage. But once we start the work they begin to realise that they can actually let some stuff go and what’s more there’s glorious moment when they start to get a “high” or "cleansed feeling" that comes from discarding what we no longer need.
Because when you start to let go something magical happens. Lets take decluttering a wardrobe for example as per the article. You realise that
Letting go of what no longer serves you, means that you can celebrate and feel free every time you open the closet. Because.
What’s more, the dopamine shot you get from having achieved this task, keeps you coming back for more. Warning decluttering can be addictive. I find my clients get to the end of a session and are actively looking around their house for more things to donate to the charity shop. No wonder Caitlin Moran refers to the post decluttering feeling as being “high as a kite”.
A Popular Fad?
So, whilst decluttering and minimalism might be seen by some as a fad, books such as “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo and James Wallman’s “Stuffocation” have hit a nerve with the collective psyche. As a society, we are no longer merely satisfied with accumulating stuff, we are seeking more meaning in our lives. And that can be incredibly hard to find when surrounded by physical and mental clutter.
National Organising Week
So, if you are tempted to start having a go a reclaiming your home, it couldn’t be a better time. Monday 6th November marks the start of National Organising Week. (Organised and run by the Association for Professional Organisers and Declutterers) And as its only 7 weeks until Christmas, getting started now could see your home transformed by the time the big day comes around.
For more information on National Organising Week (#NOWorganinse) and for top tips on how to get started click here
Can’t face going it alone? Find out what it’s like to work with a professional declutterer, drop me a message firstname.lastname@example.org check out my Facebook page @feshspacesUK or give me a ring on 07885 511061 - I love talking about clutter and would be happy to help.
Winchester based Fresh Spaces gets a Twitter Boost from Theo Paphitis
A Hampshire based firm has received a business boost from Retail Entrepreneur Theo Paphitis. Last week, Helen Cousins, owner of Fresh Spaces, tweeted Theo about her business during ‘Small Business Sunday’ and was one of six weekly winners to gain a retweet by Theo to his 500,000 Twitter followers. The weekly initiative, set up by Theo in 2010, now has 1700 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.
Business and retail entrepreneur and self-confessed Shopkeeper, Theo re‐tweeted Helen's message to his 500,000+ followers and as a result, www.freshspaces.org.uk has 100 more followers and more interest their home organising and decluttering service. They are also profiled on the #SBS website (www.theopaphitissbs.com) that is exclusive to all Small Business Sunday winners.
Helen Cousins said, “I'm absolutely thrilled to have won the Small Business Sunday Award for my own small business Fresh Spaces. It's pretty exciting, totally unexpected and I've been overwhelmed by the response to it. To be recognised by Theo for all the hard work I've put into by business is incredible. It has really helped to raise my business profile and that of the industry that I work in. Many people don't know Professional Organising exists as a service or that there's an Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers - APDO, where you can find a list of professionals through out the UK.”
Small business champion and Ryman Stationery, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue Chairman, Theo Paphitis, said: “We are thrilled to welcome new #SBS members every week and highlight just how important it is to support our small businesses here in the UK. My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club; like-minded individuals who can share successes and learnings. The website and Shop #SBS will also give a valuable profile to the winners chosen and I wish Fresh Spaces every success.”
#SBS Winners now also have access to the exclusive members’ selling platform www.shopsbs.co.uk where hundreds of winners are already selling thousands of products, from unique gifts and bespoke furniture to pet toys or jewellery. It is another opportunity for the #SBS winners to turn tweets into sales.
Anyone looking for a re‐tweet from Theo should tweet him about their business on Sunday between 5 PM and 7.30 PM and include the hashtag #SBS. Six lucky businesses are re‐tweeted every Monday at 8 PM and then invited to enter their profile on the new website, attend the annual #SBS networking event and take advantage of the networking opportunities.
‐ Ends ‐
Fresh Spaces is a professional Home Organising and Decluttering Consultancy, based in Winchester, Hampshire and owned by Helen Cousins. Helen helps people who feel that the lack of organisation or sheer amount of clutter in their homes is getting in the way of how they want to live their lives. Helen helps her clients to create more time, energy and space in their homes and lives by eliminating clutter once and for all. Together they put in place simple to manage organisational systems.
Helen is a member of APDO - the Professional Association of Declutterers and Organisers and a winner of The #SBS - Small Business Sunday Award.
Fresh Spaces, 07885 511061 and email@example.com
For further information, photos and details of service, please contact Helen Cousins at Fresh Spaces on 07885 511061 firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about Small Business Sunday please visit www.theopaphitissbs.com.
Feeling Overwhelmed? Me?
I've recently been quite busy. I've been to several brilliant short courses over the last couple of weeks (but I haven't had time to implement the key learnings from them yet), I'm reading several interesting books at once which are supporting my work, giving me food for thought and further actions to take, I'm researching coaching skills as a work aid, I've got my ongoing work supporting and working along side my clients, then I've got my own life as well as a busy family life to juggle. Although I felt I had a lot on my plate, it all seemed fine and do-able but then horror of horrors! It came to my attention that I had tech issues with my website!
I didn't know how to fix this tech issue and seemed it to blow up out of all proportion and became a bit of a monster in my mind. It also somehow seemed to affect everything else going on in my life that day. I found it difficult to focus on one task at a time, I was unable to choose between my priorities, I was anxious that I wouldn't get everything done and I even had difficulty sleeping that night. When I woke up the next morning, I realised I was suffering from overwhelm.
Overwhelm is described as "too much for a person to deal with", or as "to defeat someone or something" And it is also associated with "strong or sudden feelings".
Well I certainly felt that I had too much to do, and I felt unequal to the task of fixing the website, you could say I felt "defeated". My mind felt cluttered up with tasks, I worried that by focusing on that one issue I'd take my eye off all the other plates that were spinning and for me the "strong and sudden feelings" associated with it were panic. How was I going to do everything and fix the glitch?
So in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, I had a little chat with myself. I listed out all my tasks in my mind, I chose one to prioritise and focus on and next I chose a path of action and scheduled a time to do it. The next morning my head was still a little fuzzy, but at least I was clear on what I was going to focus on.
I chose to work on the website glitch (which now didn't seem quite such a big monster). I was attending a working day with other business women and scheduled it as my first task of the day. Several people offered help and whilst I couldn't fix the problem immediately (this happened a few days later) I realised that facing up to the problem and asking for help had led me to discover lots of new wonderful things.
I ended the day feeling positive and like I had achieved something brilliant. I'd not necessarily ticked a million things off of my to do list, but I'd learnt new skills, made a new contact, felt supported and what's more I'd learnt something about myself. Allowing myself to feel vulnerable and panicky was ok, and reaching out and asking for help was a powerful tool for change.
My thoughts turned to my clients, and what emotions they face when dealing with their clutter. Time and time again, I hear the word overwhelmed when talking about clutter and life. So next week I'll be sharing my top tips for dealing with overwhelm in the face of physical clutter. See you then.
So that's it, January is over and we are officially one third of the way through Winter. I know a lot of people dislike this time of year, but for me it represents new beginnings and getting ready. And who could love preparing and getting ready more than a Professional Organiser?
January for me is about reflecting on the past year, setting intentions for the new year and taking those first few steps to realising them. But by the time it comes to February, I'm ready for action.
National Spring Cleaning Week
February is a great month to prepare for spring cleaning, (especially so with National Spring Cleaning Week taking place from 6-12 March). And if you are also planning a project like redecorating the spare room, clearing out the attic or transforming the basement into a hobby room, chances are you'll benefit if the space is empty first so that you don't waste hours just moving things around from one place to the next before you can start work. Spring cleaning will also be much less effort when there's less stuff to work around and when things are easier we are more likely to do them.
How to begin?
Decide on your why.
If you struggle with motivation this is probably the best thing you can do to get going. Visualise the outcome of what you want. So really spend some time considering what you will be able to do with the space you're about to create. The clearer the picture in the mind the easier it will be to keep going. Images have a super powerful effect on our minds so cut out magazine pictures, use Pinterest to find things you like, and use colours to bring your vision to life. Once you've clarified your vision it will start to become a reality, keep you focused and motivate you to continue.
Take a before picture.
There is nothing more satisfying that being about to see the results of your efforts, so take a before picture and refer back to it if you ever get stuck. And when you've finished you can feel proud of your achievements when can can see what it was originally like.
Allowing yourself to be interrupted can steal your precious time. So choose a time when you can crack on uninterrupted and if you're the sort of person that needs it, allow yourself some faffing time before hand by scheduling 15 or 20 minutes pottering before you begin.
Give yourself time - but not too much!
It look a while to accumulate all that stuff, so it's going to take a while to discard it. Give yourself a deadline to aim for. This will keep you focussed on the task in hand, and avoid putting it off or procrastinating too much.
It sounds obvious but when faced with something overwhelming or difficult human nature is to walk away - just taking small steps and not overthinking have powerful benefits.
Give yourself praise
Or a reward when you've accomplished your goals. This can be as small as a cup of tea and a biscuit after 45 mins or as big as a holiday when you've completed the whole task. It's your project - you choose, but be sure to acknowledge your achievements.
So this month, I challenge you to get stuck into some of those areas of the house that have been left untouched for a while. Or those where you've been shying away from a revamp. The very process of clearing space in your home can create space in your mind for inspiration to come in.
Autumn - Four things to declutter this season
I love it when the seasons start to change and I think it provides a natural time for us to change with it. As the long warm summer days give way to crisp autumn mornings, we inevitably start to spend more time indoors and notice those things that may have been neglected over the last couple of months. It's also the time of the autumn equinox, when the length of day time is equal to the length of night time, natures way of bringing equilibrium and balance back into our lives.
Autumn is also a time for new beginnings. New school years, new routines, new foods, warm clothes and of course we start to put renewed energy into our endeavours.
So, as we draw into our homes and thoughts turn towards the next seasons activities, we notice our domestic surroundings again and often feel the need to start getting organised again. So with that in mind, here are my suggestions of where to focus your decluttering energy at this time of year:
Paperwork and post inevitably build up over the summer. Bank statements remain unopened, magazines lie about not read and bills not filed away are the main culprits here. But it's easy to get on top of these quickly and reclaim your work surfaces and coffee table again. Put aside 30 mins to tackle this and you'll be surprised how much you'll get done. First open everything and sort into piles for filing, action and scrap (or shred). Then file, scrap and shred straight away. Next action as much as you can in the remaining 30 minutes. After that add any remaining actions to your to do list and schedule a time to get them done.
When it comes to magazines, ask yourself if you really need to read them. If you haven't read them by now, chances are you probably won't. So either put them straight into the recycling bin, pass onto a friend (after checking they definitely want them) or donate. A local children's nursery or play group is a great place to donate to as colourful magazines make great material for cutting up for all sorts of artwork.
If your wardrobe space is too small to comfortably accommodate all your clothes, shoes and accessories then it's time to start thinking about packing away warm weather items. Shorts, holiday clothes and summer dresses can all be packed away. Aim for no more than 80% capacity in in your wardrobe and cupboards. This ensures enough space for all you your winter items to breath, not get creased and more importantly be seen by you.
Start by removing all of your summer items and sort into piles for donation, rubbish, wash/mend and keep. Donate anything that you no longer wear which is in reasonable condition to a local charity shop. Put aside some time to make any repairs to the items you wish to keep. Check everything is clean and dry and then pack away your summer clothes and shoes in storage boxes or vacuum bags. You should aim to keep everything flat, crease and dust free and ideally sealed, in order to protect from the dreaded moth. That way it's all bound to be in great condition when you excitedly unpack it again next spring.
As we change seasons from summer to autumn we also change the type of foods we regularly eat. Farewell salads, hello root vegetables and hearty stews. So why not start to use up all those items floating around in the fridge or cupboard that are likely to go out of date before next summer such as salad dressing and condiments. Not only will your fridge feel decluttered, you'll have avoided waste and saved money. You could also do an audit of the freezer and use up any odds and ends. And if you're feeling really motivated, go for a defrost and clean out when stocks are low, it will be easier to use the freezer and it will work more efficiently.
If you've had a busy summer of fun, then chances are that your car is still showing signs of those fun days out and is looking rather cluttered and a bit shabby. Tidying up the car is a really quick job and it always amazes me how much better it feels when you next come to drive it. Start by having a good tidy up, remove anything that doesn't belong in the car and put it back in its proper home, remember the car is not a storage item. So those beach toys, crisp packets, sports equipment, water bottles and any other debris floating around has to go. I once found an MOT certificate floating about in a client's car! Next hoover up the sand, compost, grass and dirt. Flick the duster around and wipe down the insides of the windscreens. Chances are, now that autumn is coming you'll be spending more time in the car so give it a spruce up and it will be a joy to drive.
What will you be decluttering this Autumn?