Seven year itch
Unbelievably it's seven years since I founded no more clutter. I've really
enjoyed helping clients overcome their clutter problems, as well as writing
my 2 books, no
more clutter and Hoarder to Order and co-founding our national association
(Association of Professional Declutterers
and Organisers UK)
Now it's time to do something different for a while. I'm incredibly lucky
to be in San Francisco for a year with my husband Nick. I'm dedicating
myself to writing while I'm here, as well as meeting up with US professional
this will be my last newsletter for a while I thought I'd try and share
with you some of the things that have struck me along the way - one for
each year of no more clutter.
1. Thinking about clutter is much
worse than actually sorting it out.
On my first visit to clients they are often surprised that after a quick
clutter tour of their homes and a brief chat about what they want to achieve
we choose an area and start decluttering. This is the only way to actually
make a difference - by actually dealing with the clutter in a hands on
2. Decluttering is usually an emotional
One of the reasons you've been procrastinating is because in your heart
of hearts you know it's going to bring up a lot of possibly uncomfortable
feelings. You may feel angry at yourself for letting things get into a
state. You may be annoyed at your partner or kids for littering the place
with stuff. You may feel like beating yourself up about wasting money
on things you never used. At a deeper emotional level you may have to
confront a difficult time in your life like divorce or ill-health or say
goodbye to a loved one who is gone. Be kind to yourself and know these
very human emotions are part of the process of letting go.
3. To succeed at decluttering you
need to prioritise it and set aside time
I know you're busy and overwhelmed and sorting out your paperwork is probably
the last thing you want to tackle today. I wish I could twitch my nose
like Samantha in Bewitched and organise it in an instant. Sadly I can't,
so you're going to have to prioritise the most urgent area that needs
tackling. Be serious about this and put aside time in your diary like
you would for any other commitment, even if it's only for an hour .
4 Set achievable goals
Numerous times when I visit clients they set out long shopping lists of
different areas in their home they want to organise immediately. The key
to success is putting the less urgent areas like the loft on hold until
later. Don't clump everything together and convince yourself they're all
equally important. They're not. If you can't move easily in your bedroom
because of a sea of half worn clothes, magazines, bags full of papers
and miscellaneous junk, it's a lot more pressing than sorting our your
cellar or garage. So choose the area that will have the biggest impact
on your life today, write down your goal - for instance, clear the bedroom
floor - and start today even if you've only got a few minutes to spare.
5. Focus on the positives
Imagine the benefits of living in a clearer space and feeling more organised.
Make a note of them so you can refer back when you're feeling downhearted
Accept that the decluttering process isn't perfect - if you give away
100 things you may miss the odd thing as time goes on. But it will only
be the odd thing and look at what you'll gain. A home office that works
well, a fantastic feeling of accomplishment, a home you enjoy and can
freely invite people into. I can't promise you'll grow to love decluttering,
(though it happens to many ex-hoarders) but you will learn to see it as
an essential part of maintaining the life you want.
Learn from the things you say goodbye to
A huge pile
of unread magazines, three copies of the same DVD, last year's sales purchases
with the label still on - all of things are sending you a message. You're
acquiring more than you use, and it's time to stop!
You can't keep everything
Stuff weighs you down, beloved possessions don't, they add shape, meaning
and colour to your life. The real challenge we are all facing is learning
to spot the difference. Remind yourself daily that you don't have to keep
everything that crosses your path, you can enjoy the theatre without keeping
the programme, or lose yourself in a book then pass it on to a friend.
Going to San Francisco, even for a year there's a few things I need to
have with me like Goldie my teddy bear who had been with me since I was
a baby and his sidekick Tuppence who I picked up from a jumble sale 30
years ago. They mean home and continuity and all the places I've ever
I hope you've enjoyed reading the newsletters. Have a fantastic year and
I really look forward to being back with you in the Spring of 2010.
P.S. If you're
looking for professional help in the meantime, take a look at the apdo-uk
website (here) now and you'll
find lots of options there, whatever your decluttering needs.