Declutter Tips

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Declutter Your Home - Just Rubbish Disposal Or A Feel-Good Technique

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I have recently been hearing more and more people mention the word “declutter” and wondered what all the fuss was about. Is this just a fad, a bit of rubbish disposal, a reaction to our modern excesses or a necessary remedy to make our lives more enjoyable and livable? Being interested in doing a bit of “decluttering” myself, I decided to carry out some research and found there is a ground-swell of anti-clutter thinking building up across the country. In the UK there is even a trade body called the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers! So what is all the fuss about? It seems that we now have larger amounts of disposable income and a distinct lack of time to use it. The result of these two factors is that we purchase lots of unnecessary items and have no time to either use them or throw them away. Another factor is our innate tendency to hoard things. Our reluctance to throw things away, even if we rarely or never use them, results in a build up of rubbish that slowly but surely consumes our living space until we reach that breaking point when the declutter urge begins to nag!

Everyone has a different declutter urge threshold, with some people unable to cope with even a small pile of old newspapers, whereas others will reach the point where they can hardly move from room-to-room before the urge to take action kicks in. It seems that there are various locations that merit a bout of decluttering and there are a range of drivers that spur the declutterer into action. Let’s deal with the locations first of all. The normal location is the family home. Kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and garages are the usual culprits. For bedrooms, clothing is the main clutter contributor. For those of use who can’t resist a little retail therapy, there can easily be a rapid build-up of unworn clothing, but garments are one of the easiest items to clear out. Whatever you do, unless your old clothes are worn-out, damaged or dirty, don’t throw them away. You have a perfect opportunity to donate your clothes to charity during your decluttering. Many people recommend using the “one year” rule – if you haven’t worn an item of clothing during the last 12 months then you are highly unlikely to wear it again – just clear it out! If you have children, then toys can also start to take over a room if not kept under control. If you don’t keep your toy-count in check, your children will soon have too many toys to be able to find their own favourites. Another opportunity to recycle beckons, so whatever you do don’t just throw them away. Donate them to friends with younger children, sell them at a car-boot sale or even on Ebay. In the kitchen, old utensils can be thrown away for hygiene reasons and in the garage, throw out all those old tins of paint and rubbish that you moved out from the house last year.

If you have mountains of rubbish, it may be worthwhile hiring a skip to make the job easier. Another location that really benefits from a good clear-out is the office – either your desk at work or your home-office. You’ll be amazed at how much paperwork people can accumulate over a short period of time. I’ve known companies that have had periodic office reorganisations, purely to make people have a regular clear out of their work space. So what are the benefits of all this decluttering? If you have tried it even once you’ll know exactly what I mean by the sense of satisfaction and achievement that can be attained from all of this. If you haven’t ever set aside time for a spot of decluttering, then I can only suggest that you try a small test run. Plan to spend just one hour, in one room and see how far you get – and see how good you feel!Another favourite technique is the 15-3 sprint. Take a rubbish bag and for the next 3 minutes, try to fill it with 5 items to throw away each every minute. If you reach 15 in the allotted time you’ve done well and just see how good that feels. You may even be tempted to repeat the exercise every day. You may have a few guilty feelings about being wasteful and disposing of perfectly good things, but these will be more than compensated for by your sense of achievement, your satisfaction in being able to let go and the cleaner, lighter space you have created. You’ll feel more relaxed in your home, you’ll be able to find things more easily and you’ll know exactly what you have. In fact the fewer things you have, the more you will cherish and use them. So go on, have a good old clear out today.

Marcus Brooks is a writer and publisher of home improvement and property advice. His constructive advice, commentary and time saving tools cover a wide range of subjects. His latest initiative on skip hire can be found at

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