Eight experts share their decluttering tips.
- Don’t ‘churn’. Help For Hoarders says moving things around to different areas within your home is termed ‘churning’. This does little to reduce the number of possessions in your home. Rather than churning, let these possessions go altogether.
- Think small. Professional declutterer Vicky Silverthorn says: ‘Don’t think, “I’ve got to tidy the house”. Instead, think, “I’m going to tackle that drawer”. This will be much less overwhelming.’ Set a kitchen timer or the stopwatch on your phone for 15 minutes and tackle the untidiest space you can see.
- Tidy up ‘creatively’. If you’re a creative type, you may prefer to order your things creatively – use colour order to organise your books or hang your clothes. Choose bright pen pots and artistic folders that meet both organisational and creative requirements. ‘If a system inspires you and speaks to your creative side, you might be more inclined to stick with it,’ says Silverthorn.
- Throw our anything you don’t love. Really think about the things you are throwing away and each item’s meaning to you. Japanese tidiness expert Marie Kondo says that if the item ‘brings you joy’, you’ll feel it straight away. If it doesn’t, it’s time to let it go.
- Inspire children to declutter. Children often pick up hoarding habits from parents, so if you can’t do it for you, do it for them! Get their consent when you declutter and have rational discussions with them about why things should go to charity or in the bin rather than them keeping them. Reward them for their decluttering (for example, with a trip to the cinema, not to the toy shop!).
- Think ‘C.H.A.O.S’. Professional organisers often refer to ‘CHAOS’ or ‘Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.’ If you find yourself not inviting guests over because you can’t deal with the mess, it could be time to get help. Clare Parrack of Clarify Interiors and the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) says: ‘Often a trigger for seeking help is feeling overwhelmed and ashamed by clutter build-up but not knowing where to start.’
- Borrow, don’t buy. Before you think, ‘I need one of those’, consider borrowing one instead. Try Streetbank.com, which connects neighbours together to help them share things rather than buy them.
- Draft in the experts. There’s no shame in asking for someone to help you tackle your clutter. It may be a friend or partner, or it could be a professional clearer. Parrack says: ‘If you are really struggling, book a session with a professional organiser.’ APDO has more than 100 members across the UK.