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.
Choose your vision
Quite simply, how would you like your space to feel? What would you like to achieve? How do you imagine living and what would that look or feel like? Forget interior design for now, we are talking about how you are going to live and function in the space and how that is going to improve your life. You might choose a picture from a magazine or Pintrest, but I prefer my clients to put it down in writing. This really focuses the mind on the outcome and when the decluttering gets tough, the vision brings us back to our overall objective and keeps us motivated to continue.
When deciding where to begin, chose an area in your home where you will be able to make a reasonably big impact. Basically we are thinking bulky items here. Getting rid of larger items first such as clothing or old electrical goods creates extra space quickly and when you start to see immediate results you will gain motivation to keep going and maybe even feel a spark of excitement. Don't start with a filing cabinet of old paperwork, you're likely to get fed up with it before you've made any visible progress and it could put yourself off the whole thing.
Decluttering can be really tiring. As you are faced with decision after decision over every single item you own, decision fatigue can quickly set in. I recommend starting with items that are really easy to make decisions over. Avoid personal and sentimental items such as photographs, letters, diaries, cards and school reports as you'll have a tendency to spend your decluttering time reminiscing rather than letting go. Just as with any new habit or exercise routine, you need to warm up first, so think about tackling your wardrobe or old magazines or out of date food in the pantry first.
When working with a client, one of the things we find most useful is to group similar items together first. By gathering together types of items you can see just how many Stanley knives, spatulas, biros or post it notes you actually own. Sometimes seeing the shear quantity of unnecessary items is enough to encourage you to pare them down. Secondly once items have been grouped they are then far more easy to store. Everything has a natural place within the home and once sorted it become a joy to decide on these natural places.
If your are feeling totally overwhelmed then by all means get some help in. A trusted friend can often help us to see our clutter in another light and encourage us to let go. Not to mention another pair of hands is going to come in very useful when all that stuff has got to be moved and shifted. If you're not keen to get a friend involved but really do need some help then a Professional Declutterer may be what you need. Professional Declutterers cover a whole range of services from streamlining technology, helping you move house, decluttering wardrobes, organising paperwork and even working with hoarders. They operate discretely and without judgement. Check out the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers to find one near you.
Setting yourself one small objective at a time is the way forward here. Don't start by thinking you're going to clear the whole house, the whole attic or even a whole room in one day. Firstly you'll really have to go some to achieve such a big objective and the danger is that you could lose motivation and wear yourself out. Instead, choose a small area such as a kitchen cupboard or underwear drawer or your shoes. Set aside some time and go for it. The psychology of achieving something small will motivate you to continue far more then if you'd tackled twice as much but not finished.
Rome wasn't built in a day and you didn't accumulate a life times worth of clutter overnight. If it has taken years to accumulate, it is going to take a while to let it go. So be patient with yourself and the process, work steadily at a pace you can maintain. Rather like going on a diet or training to run a marathon, don't expect to lose all the weight straight away or be able to run 26 miles after one weeks training. This will be rewarding but you'll need patience and persistence.
And by this I mean as soon as you have finished decluttering a particular area, take action straight away to get it out of the house. You might be tired after making all those decisions and shifting stuff around, but honestly making one final push to physically remove the items from your home will be worth the effort. So put it in the car straight away and take to your local charity shop or recycling centre without delay. Rather than procrastinate and think you can drop it all off next time you are in town, make time to do it right at the end of the decluttering session. For a start, you will be able to see the impact you've made as soon as you walk back into the house, you won't be tempted to change your mind and sneak things back into the home and the house won't be cluttered up with your discarded items, ironically causing you more clutter!
So, what are you waiting for?
Got your own decluttering tips? Then please share them here.