no more clutter logo no more clutter newsletter for March/April 2009

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 organisers.

As 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 way!

2. Decluttering is usually an emotional process

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 and demotivated.

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.

6. 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!

7. 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 lived.

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.

Very best wishes


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.


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