Clutter makes you fat… and when you start to sort it, you lose weight!
I was recently interviewed by Aleena Naylor, on BBC Radio Derby. This is a summary of the topics discussed on the show.
With today’s hectic lifestyles, we don’t always have time to control our clutter. Once this is out of control, it has a knock-on effect on our lifestyle. It’s ‘easier’ to buy junk food, we ‘need’ comfort food to make us happy etc. Just as the clutter accumulates, so does our weight. Once we take control of the clutter, we are more able to take charge of our diet. The learning processes involved in taking charge of these problems are the same, and as it’s easier to learn to de-clutter your home, this will be the first process you learn, and the confidence and enthusiasm you gain from this has a knock-on effect on taking control of what you eat.
Where do you start? I always chat with my clients first, to try to understand what caused the clutter to appear in the first place – when and why did it start to build up. It’s important to understand this and build this understanding into the solution so it won’t recur. Then I have a tour of the home. There’s always a pattern or a theme to the clutter, which is repeated room after room. For example, piles of laundry everywhere (but wardrobes are half empty), books piled on and under every surface, rails of clothes, stacks of shoes etc. Once I’ve discovered the theme, I can then make suggestions as to how this can be dealt with. I don’t put a “sticking plaster” over the problem, or just tidy-up for someone, because a fortnight later, they would be even worse than when they started. The solutions can be really simple, or very complicated, depending on the outcome the client is looking for. Joe, a caller on the show, said his house was cluttered-up during the week with tonnes of sports bags and equipment belonging to his sporty family. But the mess is always sorted at the weekend, apparently, so a solution for him would be to have an empty cupboard that everything could be ‘dumped’ in during the week, to keep the house tidy.
What are you aiming for in a house? In a perfect house you’ll have 3 levels of storage –
(1) Long Term Storage – this storage is in the hard to reach areas like the attic, and items should be stored here that you only want once or twice a year, such as Christmas decorations etc.
(2) Medium Term Storage – storage areas like the back of high cupboards, under the bed at the back, this is where you should store things you only want once every few months.
(3) Short Term Storage – your drawers, cupboards, wardrobes etc. This is where everything should be stored that you use frequently. Give everything a place of its own.
Are cluttered people being lazy? No, they are just busy, and often disorganised. Having a thorough de-clutter, then organising their storage as above will enable them to tidy-up quickly, more often, keeping control of the home.
What do we do with the stuff we don’t want to keep? Offer it to family and friends, give it to charity, sell it at a car boot sale, sell it on Ebay – but be warned, 95% of my new clients have an ‘Ebay pile’, which is great, until they confess it has been sitting there for 6 months or so, waiting to be photographed! So only plan this if you really will do it – soon. My best advice is to get it all out of the house quickly, you’ll hardly ever get the money back that you paid for it, so don’t spend too long trying.
Do I recommend de-cluttering before putting a house on the market? Absolutely. It’s the cheapest and most effective way of preparing your home for sale. Even if you don’t have time for a thorough de-clutter, at least pack some items away that you know you won’t use for a while, and give yourself lots of space in the house. It will look much more appealing to potential buyers.