We’ve spent more time at home than ever before in the past few years, but we’re still drowning in things — and it’s stressing us out.
A study by Homebase found that the average UK home loses almost 50 square feet of space to clutter, the equivalent of 17,000 football pitches across the country. And our mess is more than just a nuisance.
In the same poll, a quarter of Britons admitted they feel overwhelmed when their house is overcrowded. More than a fifth said a messy home contributes to low mood and anxiety.
Science confirms this. Experts say clutter impairs our ability to think clearly and work efficiently at work, and can lead to depression.
“It can take over your home and your life,” says organization expert Jamie Novak (jamienovak.com).
” Mixed up can mean that you never feel at peace. Plus, you’re wasting time, money, and effort looking for or replacing items you already own but just can’t find in the trash.
“Cleaning up gives you back the time, energy, and space to enjoy what’s important in life. And now that spring cleaning season is upon us, there has never been a better time to start.”
Tidying up is a task that can trigger a whole range of emotions, including panic, guilt, regret, indecision, and even sadness.
So it’s hardly surprising that many of us struggle to get our stuff together.
But help is at hand. Here, the UK’s top experts debunk our most common excuses and share troubleshooting tips to put things in order for good.
I don’t know where to start
This is the biggest obstacle we face, says professional home organizer Lucy Mansey ( organizedbylucy.com ).
“Confusion can be overwhelming. When a space has become a dumping ground, it’s often difficult to find the mental capacity to enter it – let alone sort it out.”
The answer is to focus on one area at a time. “Take a tiny part of your home in turn – a closet, a shelf or a corner. Split the elements into “Keep” and “Go”. For the latter, lay out boxes or bags to put them in that are labeled “donate,” “sell,” “recycle,” “upcycle,” or “trash can.”
I HAVE NO TIME
By tidying up, you gain time back – and even more.
“Life is really easier when you know where everything is,” emphasizes Kathryn Lord ( moretoorganizing.com ). “Ordering and tidying frees your mind and space, but it’s a steady marathon—not a sprint.
“Practice makes perfect. Doing it little and often makes it easier.”
“Work in 18-minute blocks,” advises Jamie. “Studies show that this is the optimal time to start tasks – long enough to make progress, but not so long that you get bored or overwhelmed.”
Set your timer for 18 minutes and start tackling your sock drawer. When this is done, continue with your sweaters and so on until the time runs out.
I WILL DO IT LATER
Delay procrastination by setting deadlines.
“Book appointments for donations to charity shops or recycling yards,” Jamie urges.
“That’s how you have to act. Next, set a reward — anything from a cup of coffee to a conversation on social media — as a reward for completing each task.
“Finally, imagine you’re on a game show and use a countdown buzzer.”
I KEEP IT J JUST IN CASE
“Because we don’t know what the future holds, it’s tempting to prepare for any eventuality,” says Jamie. “But holding on to items ‘just in case’ means the good stuff gets swamped and lost.”
We’ve all felt that pain when we let go of something. But remember, you are making the best decision with the information you have today.
“There is only so much space in your home. You have to prioritize how best to use this precious amount,” says Jamie.
Paperwork can be a particular fear for us.
“Personal records like bank statements only need to be kept for two years (six years for business records),” says organizer Sian Pelleschi ( all-sorted.co.uk ).
“Keep insurance policies while they last. Keep important documents like birth certificates in a Fire and waterproof box.”
“Baby clothes, inherited items, souvenirs, even an old work outfit remind us of years gone by and happy memories, which is why we cling to them,” explains Jamie.
“But the memory is in your head, not the inanimate object.
“Seeing an object can evoke emotions just as much as actually holding it. Try to take a picture of it and then give it to a new home. Storing images on a digital photo frame creates a slideshow of valuable images.”
IT WAS EXPENSIVE
“Keeping an item we never used just because it was expensive just reminds us of a bad choice,” says Jamie.
“Let it go. If you can recoup the money by selling it, great. Otherwise, hand it to someone who will love it and tell yourself next time you will make a better choice.
“Ironically, letting go of a bargain can be just as difficult. So don’t take this freebie pen. It’s just another item to find a home for and eventually dispose of.”
I MIGHT USE IT ONE DAY
“Someday” items like breadmakers and musical instruments bought with the best of intentions just remind us that we don’t feel good about who we are, says Jamie.
“By starting to accept who you are, you can now more easily get rid of things that just aren’t you. “For someone else, however, they are correct. Selling, sharing, or rehomed means the item is still being used—just not by you, and that’s okay.” Still hesitating? “Either make your dream of learning this new skill a priority and make time for it, or admit it doesn’t matter to you right now and let it go,” suggests Kathryn.
A loved one gave it to me
“If a gift isn’t your thing, don’t feel guilty about giving it to someone who will put it to better use,” says Nicola Lewis ( thisgirlcanorganise.com ).
Remember that the gift was given with love. But no one wants an item lying around unused and gathering dust.
Pass it on to someone who will love it.
Alternatively, you can sell it, use the proceeds for something you really need, and think of your loved ones when you use it.
I don’t know what to do with it
Recycling and safe disposal systems mean you can find a home for just about anything. See terracycle.com/en-GB Information on recycling everything from half-used cosmetics and socks with holes to inkless pens and chipped crockery.
Log-in recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with for an AZ guide.
Find your nearest hazardous waste disposal point for household and garden chemicals and batteries at gov.uk.
Some charity shops still gratefully accept working electronics, while anything with a plug, battery or cord can be recycled, says Nicola.
I JUST CAN’T LET IT GO
“If it’s just that you spent money on a magazine and don’t want to waste it, tell yourself the money has already been spent and you won’t get it back,” advises Sian.
“Make an effort to read it within the next week, or skip and move on.”
However, sticking to objects could cost you far more than the price of a magazine, Jamie adds.
“Clutter is a sign that something needs to change,” she emphasizes.
Hoarding disorder — a disease in its own right — affects one to two in 100 people, says the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“It’s a serious matter — it affects people both mentally and physically,” Sian adds.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/family/experts-reveal-how-declutter-your-26513138 Experts reveal how to declutter your life and have a tidy home once and for all