Jasmine runs Change Your Space and is a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers UK. Here she gives her top five tips to help you declutter your home.
I am a professional organiser. I climb up into lofts with people who are moving house and daunted by having to delve into the recesses of their home. I listen while clients sort through the wardrobe of a loved one who has passed. I’ve gone into homes where no one else has been for five years and you can hardly make it into the hallway.
Through it all I’ve learnt a major lesson: it’s rarely just about the stuff. Sorting is likely to be an emotional journey through your identity, history, relationships and self-esteem – but that is an amazing journey too.
There are great benefits to a good review of your belongings:
- Doing your bit: recycling and charitable donations are good for the environment and community
- Financial: the average home has about £600 of unused items residing in cupboards and lofts
- More space: it is estimated that we would gain 30% more room from conducting a review
- More efficiency: 80% of what we file we never refer to again
- Time saving: we spend 20 minutes a day trying to find important items that are hiding
- Clarity: the average 10 year old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily
Knowing it’s good for us may still not be enough to commit time to the process. So how do we make progress with our sort out and stay motivated?
My top five tips to personally equip ourselves for a review:
The power of memories comes from accessing them regularly and not the volume.
This can be a key way to navigate through inherited items, children’s pictures, and family photographs. Think of a format by which you can be in touch with that memory. I’ve created a scrapbook of photos of a ball gown collection with the stories associated with them for a client. This brought great joy to her and the three wardrobes of clothing could be re-homed.
Celebrate finding something you thought was lost.
This will definitely happen. It’s usually in the first hour of a sort session, but we always take time to celebrate this find. Be pleased with yourself. When a birthday present was rediscovered we had a little celebration there in the loft. So many of our belongings are about joyous times. Take time to reconnect with that.
Have structure and parameters to your sort.
This can be that you are tackling this one cupboard for one hour and you have your recycling and donations bag at the ready. It will call you back to task when emotions can start to cloud what you are doing.
Be content with a first sift.
Rather than agonising over whether to keep items that may have sentimental poignancy, satisfy yourself to go through the area making easy decisions first. Where is the excess cardboard? Where are the clothes you can donate easily? Leave tougher decisions to a second sift when you have made progress on clearing a space first.
Make a memory box.
There has been much written about whether an item sparks joy, and the psychology of making decisions, but I never presume what people want to keep and what they wish to let go. What I do find helps is having a memory box where items are to be kept well. When you know you have a few things kept safe that remind you of key chapters, you don’t feel as if you have to keep everything.
Feeling inspired? Watch our #GreatDonateHero film below, find your local Scope shop and get sorting!
If you’d like to find out more from Jasmine about decluttering, just email her and she can send you some tips for your particular problem area: firstname.lastname@example.org