Do you have room to breathe? Country living doesn’t stop many of us from being busy, busy, busy and stressed, stressed, stressed.* We don’t smell the roses, let alone take time for friends and family or go for walks across the fields, on the beach or in the mountains.
If you declutter and simplify your home, would it really help and make your life easier?
In a word, yes.
And it might do a few other things too.
[* It’s the same for town and city living, of course.]
Declutter and simplify and you’ll have more time
Having time is one of the greatest luxuries today. It’s become a precious commodity and it flies, whether you’re having fun or not.
When you’ve simplified your house a little or a lot, you’ll have time for other things. You’ll be able to spend time on things you want to do, without being in a perpetual rush. You might even have time for a big rush that you won’t forget at Rib Ride or Zip World!
You’ll be able to just get to the beach or out for a walk without forgetting something – dog lead, keys, phone.
And the day-to-day routine of (select and add as appropriate) animals, garden, school, shopping, work and perhaps hospital visits will be simply easier. Easier sounds good to me.
You’ll feel much better
Like many people who’ve decluttered and simplified their home, you’ll feel so much better. This is what they say.
I feel more in control of my own life now.
I feel calmer. I’m not so stressed.
The house is cleaner because there isn’t so much stuff.
I’ve saved money because I don’t buy duplicates any more. I know where everything is. And I’ve found money too!
I enjoy what I’ve got because I can actually see it clearly now.
Declutter and simplify and you’ll have more space and more choice
When you’ve decluttered, there’s going to be less mess and more space. How wonderful to be able to find what you want!
And, strangely, having fewer things seems to offer more choice. That’s more choice in what you do with your time, your money, your life!
If things aren’t going right for you, don’t add things. Instead of adding things, you could try taking things away. People say that this helps them to focus on what’s really important.
You’re convinced? What next?
It is worthwhile to take the time to declutter and simplify your home. Or, indeed, anywhere you live.
After a demanding day, do you return to a peaceful sanctuary or to a cluttered house? For many people, enough is enough. Suddenly, decluttering and organising is everywhere you look. Yes, decluttering in North Wales is a thing! Part of this is due to Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying expert with a signature fringe, whose Netflix series Tidying up with Marie Kondo is sparking joy, jokes and discussions across the world.
Marie wrote the New York Times best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (also in manga) and Spark Joy. It’s the Netflix series, though, scheduled to ride the New Year wave of resolutions, that’s generating so many column inches and minutes of coverage.
How simple are Marie’s ideas and the KonMari method? And what do professional organisers say?
First of all, time
Decluttering and organising take time so that you’re not overwhelmed and things can settle. Marie Kondo’s approach is to do it ‘all at once’, by which she means in no more than six months. Experienced professional organisers usually work with clients once a week for as long as it takes, which could be much longer.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle
This is one of Marie’s rules and it’s got a lot going for it. KonMari is not about minimalism (although you’ll find yourself with many fewer things, if you follow it). It’s more about learning who you are and what you like.
Imagining a fully blown ideal lifestyle is a tall order for those of us who just want something like clear floorspace in the bedroom but it’s worth playing with. Even just an outline will encourage you to move forward.
Sparking joy and other emotions
None of us need negative things in our lives and Marie Kondo has a very positive approach. Her emphasis is on what to keep and that’s why she tells you to hold an item in your hand and ask yourself if it sparks joy.
Other organisers might ask whether you need something, want it or use it.
Joy is one of the emotions that decluttering can produce but be prepared for others. Decluttering can release complicated feelings.
Follow the right order
KonMari lays down a ‘right’ order of things to work on: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous) and, finally, sentimental items. This is to build up our ability to distinguish what sparks joy. It certainly makes sense to work on things such as letters, postcards and photos last. You’ll have built up stamina from all your other decluttering.
The order sounds nice and simple but scratch the surface and you will find many more categories underneath. The ‘komono’ category, for example, is huge, running from garage to loft, from toys to kitchen.
Rather than imposing an order, most professional organisers take their lead from their clients. Some are ready to tackle the ‘worst’ area in their home. Others have to build up slowly.
Marie Kondo says to let go with gratitude
The KonMari method advocates thanking items you are discarding for their service to you. This reflects Japanese culture’s respect for inanimate objects but it may be a step too far for you. Even so, for many people it raises questions about consumerism and how we live our lives.
Piling all the clothes on the bed? Really?
The huge pile is where many professional organisers part ways with Marie Kondo. She gathers everything in a category (clothes, say, or tools) so you can see exactly how much you have. This makes great television but it’s usually not a good fit with real life. For many of us it’s far too overwhelming. What’s more, it takes time to go through everything and we need to be able to use that bed tonight!
Some professional organisers declutter by category like Marie Kondo but others work room by room. Whichever approach they take, they always try to make a task achievable by breaking it down into smaller chunks. You can focus and it keeps the motivation going! A smaller chunk might be a category like jeans or hammers, for example. Or it could be just one shelf.
Marie gives each of her possessions a designated ‘living space’. Most of us know about this already: a place for everything and everything in its place. Here we all agree.
Marie Kondo and folding
Marie is big on folding clothes and storing them vertically in drawers. You save space, see everything at a glance and nothing is squashed at the bottom of a pile.
Many people see folding as a game changer. And others feel they have better things to do with their time. It really depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of home, storage and amount of time you have. Your choice.
Tidying up with Marie Kondo is an entertaining television show and it’s certainly captured people’s attention. People are talking about how clutter makes your already busy life even more pressurised and complicated. And how it affects family, relationships and work.
Things can be different, though! If you declutter and organise, you can transform your home and make space. Home can become a sanctuary, a safe space to regroup and revitalise yourself.
You don’t have to do it all at once – do what you can, even if it’s very small.
So how do you declutter before moving house? In a nutshell: think it through and plan ahead. Be prepared and start early.
But first – feelings
We’re not all the same and both decluttering and moving affect different people in different ways. Although some people sail through in a very matter-of-fact way, other people get quite emotional.
According to Zoopla, homeowners move, on average, every 23 years.
That’s a lot of time to make memories and accumulate stuff.
Some people find engaging a professional organiser helps things run smoothly. We’re not emotionally involved and we have lots of useful tips and tricks to help.
Think about the big picture
Being clear about some of the good reasons to declutter is a great start. One good reason, for example, is that you will have fewer things to pack. Another reason is that you will pay less to move because there will be fewer things. And a third is that fewer things are easier to unpack and you’ll settle in more quickly.
Then think about life in your new home. Whether your new home is a caravan or a mansion, in town or at the beach, it offers an opportunity to live your life differently. It’s going to be a new chapter in your life.
Now consider what you’ll need, and what you’ll no longer need.
Thinking through the detail
Are you upsizing or downsizing? How many people will usually be living in your new home? How much stuff do you want to take with you?
With measuring tape and notebook in hand, go through each room in the old house asking yourself ‘What will fit my new life and home?’ Think about clothes and shoes, for example. Will you still need clothes for dogwalking or glamorous evening events or standard office clothes? How much kitchen equipment, cutlery and crockery? What about furniture? Take notes!
Then there are things that have been untouched for some time, perhaps even since the last move – often prime decluttering territory. Nobody really wants to move boxes of old paperwork – utilities bills from long ago, guarantees for electrical items now broken and thrown away, old bank statements that don’t need to be kept for business purposes. Some books may have had their time – novels bought for beach holidays, out-of-date reference books, cookery books without any recipes you want to cook.
Plan ahead, be prepared and start to declutter well before moving
Planning ahead means that you won’t forget anywhere. The loft, under the stairs, the shed, the big cupboard no-one ever uses: these are all common places that slip people’s minds.
Be prepared with:
boxes and bags, packing tape, labels, marker pens
a confidential shredding service if you have more than a few sensitive documents. Shredding takes time and domestic shredders have a habit of jamming
details of the charity donation centre or shop you want to use
details of the local recycling centre
a skip if you’ll be throwing out a large amount of stuff that can’t be recycled.
Start sooner rather than later. You’ll give yourself time to go through everything in good order. You’ll be able to work well without exhausting yourself.
A few decluttering rules of thumb
Focus on the area where you are working and don’t get distracted.
Remember! It’s not obligatory to take stuff you don’t need, want or use to your new home. Be ruthless, if necessary.
A tried and tested method is to sort into boxes. These are useful categories: keep; give away; recycle; throw away.
I’m going to give you a little insight into why I love my job.
I’ve been really enjoying it recently. I thought I’d try to understand why, just in case I could bottle it! Sadly, I don’t think that’s possible but it’s certainly been worth thinking about. Here are a few thoughts.
Why I love my job: the clients
I’m very privileged, as a professional organiser and declutterer, to be invited right into my clients’ lives. That’s right into their homes, and right into what makes them tick and how and why they live like they do. I’m invited in because my clients want change, which can be exciting, scary, challenging, liberating – and sometimes all of those things and more!
Together, we outline the decluttering or organising task we’re going to work on. And then we start to work on it. It’s hard work and it’s also fun. There’s definitely room for a laugh which is always good.
And, at the end of the day, we’ve made a difference! We’ve probably transformed something! That really is a great feeling.
Why I love my job: freedom, space and different places
I love the freedom of working for myself (it’s been 30+ years now). Yes, I’m a professional organiser and declutterer, but I also sometimes wear a different research and writing hat.
My two jobs are really quite similar, now I come to think of it. Both of them work at making sense and bringing order out of sometimes apparently quite unpromising beginnings. Decluttering and organising is very practical and hands-on, and my research and writing is more to do with ideas and facts, although often still quite practical.
Excitingly, making sense and bringing order usually produces space. And space is where new things can happen. That’s really good if you want to stop feeling stuck in your life.
Another reason why I love my job is that I am interested in places – why they are there and their different possibilities. Working as a professional organiser, I’m able to go to places I wouldn’t otherwise know existed, let alone visit and become involved with. Fabulous!
I love my job because it opens doors and windows in the here and now. Suddenly, when there is a sense of order and space there are new possibilities. That sounds good to me.