After decluttering my home, how do I maintain it?
People also ask:
Is there any point in decluttering if I am likely to end up in the same place in the future?
How do I persuade my family members living at home, that decluttering is a good idea?
As a Professional Organiser, I realise that equally as important as doing the initial declutter, is to also give each client practical steps on how to maintain what has been achieved.
I firmly believe that living in a clutter free space is good for our overall health & wellbeing. It can also help to make our homes stress free and give us more time to enjoy the more pleasurable things in life.
With regard to people's views on clutter, most people fit into one of the 4 categories below:
Some people make a decision to declutter and want to work with someone to undertake the task.This is where a Professional Organiser can help.
Other people are simply not naturally organised, and may need some guidance. Indeed, sometimes it can be that they do not know where to start or the fear of failure, that prevents them from getting started in the 1st place. These result in procrastination and they are left with a residual anxiety about not dealing with something that they want to.
People with a Chronic Disorganisation disorder have had issues with clutter over a long period of time. They are sometimes aware of the problem and while they can get rid of things, they find it very difficult to make decisions. With compassionate help & guidance, they can declutter and be taught how to maintain order going forward.
People with a Hoarding Disorder are unaware of the problems caused by their hoarding situation and have severe anxiety about letting things go. Their possessions take priority over everything else. It is recognised as a powerful psychological disorder. Hoarding is highly prevalent (approximately 2.5% of the population – that is potentially over 1.2 million people in the UK alone) and when severe, is associated with substantial functional disability, that represents a great burden for the sufferers, their families and society.
As a Professional Organiser, I work with people within the 1st three categories, but leave people with severe hoarding disorders to the professionals. If I am approached by someone who I believe is a hoarder, I can however signpost them to a professional organiser who specialises in this area.
You can read my blog with useful tips on decluttering here.
One of the most important points is, that if you want to invest in new storage of some sort, you declutter 1st, and then choose storage to accomodate your newly refined posessions. In this way, it can act as a useful measure going forward. If it is getting over full, it means you have once again accumulated more possessions. Alternatively, if you are using existing storage, you can take pictures after the decluttering job to use as a reference, in order to gauge things, in the same way.
Maintaining a clutter free environment
Just as we do regular cleaning, ironing & gardening for example, if we want to maintain a clutter free environment, we also need to do regular maintenance. Personally, I have never had to do a major declutter & this is why:
I am constantly sifting & sorting, whereby I take things to charity shops etc. regularly.
I have always deluttered before I have moved home.
I have only placed in the loft things that I use either annually or biannually such as christmas decorations & camping equipment. On the loft door, I have always had a list of what is in the loft.
Every item has a home. As a family, I always taught my children that if items are returned to the place they have been taken from, everyone else will know where to find them.
I always store items by genre, such as stationery for example, in one place. This makes it much easier to take stock, and therefore there is less likelyhood of purchasing duplicates.
When the children were young I would work with each of them in their bedrooms fairly regularly to decide which clothes, books or toys they had outgrown, and we would take them to charity shop. I always explained to them that by doing this, other children would be able to enjoy/use them.
As the children grew older, I respected that their bedroom's were their own spaces. There is no doubt, that none of them were blessed with the natural tidy gene that I had! I had 2 girls & 1 boy, & the girls were definitely the worst for having what I call 'floor wardrobes' in their latter teen years. So I would have to tell them to tidy their rooms fairly regularly. I would offer to help if they wanted me to. Invariably, when engaged in this process, they would decide various items could go to charity.
One area that I was not able to influence was my husband's tools. For a man who did very little DIY, he had an incredibly large collection of tools, which were moved from one home to another. Fortunately, they were always in the shed or garage, so did not clutter up the house!!
Getting your family onboard
I always believe with these things that communication is key.
At one of my presentations, an attendee described how the clutter & chaos in the family home made them feel really down, particularly their partner's untidiness.
I explained that it was very unlikely that their partner realised that these things were having such a negative effect.
I suggested that they should set some time aside in order to explain the effect the home environment was having on their mental health & wellbeing. I said that their partner was probably completely unaware of the impact of their untidiness on the other person. Furthermore, once they understood this, it was highy likely that as a loving partner, they would want to make a concerted effort to try & alleviate this.
In my own situation, I used to move things, & my husband pointed out to me that it really annoyed him how I would rearrange his shaving brush etc. Once he told me this, I made a concerted effort not to do this. It sounds trivial, but sometimes it is the smallest things that can cause aggravation, no matter how innocent.
It is not rocket science - if we bring more items into the home without getting rid of things, our posessions will grow. So having decluttered, if we want to maintain a status quo, we must maintain the process of 'items in items out' so to speak, on an ongoing basis.
Managing our posessions is about regular maintenance.
After Christmas for example, when typically most households will have additional items as a direct result of gifts received, come January, we should systematically review what we have, with the aim of giving some things away.
We should absolutely avoid using the loft for posessions, apart from things that we do use, but infrequently.
Storing things by genre together, makes it easier to review what you have.
If we are struggling to fit things into the cupboards etc. that we have, that is a very clear indicator that we are accumulating more posessions & we need to take ACTION.
I hope that this blog has been helpful, & if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com
With Very Best Wishes as ever,