Why does my clutter keep coming back?

So you’ve been brave, taken the plunge and started decluttering, well done! But you want to know why the clutter seems to steadily (or rapidly) reappear over time?

Removing unwanted items is an integral part of decluttering (of course) but the bit that often gets forgotten about is the reorganisation that is needed to establish “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Without this, tidying is a struggle and the clutter will start to build again.

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These three factors are vital to a clutter free home.

  1. Gone means gone – When you go through your items and decide what you no longer want, need or love, get rid of them THAT DAY. Donate them to charity, recycle them or give them to someone you know would enjoy them. Whatever it takes, just make sure you remove them from your home ASAP, never to return. An integral part of a Clutter Fairy decluttering session is planning where the unwanted stuff is all going to go and transporting it at the end of each session.
  1. Organise – Give all your treasured items that made the cut a home and think about how you use things –
  • Store items close to where you are likely to use them.
  • Where possible keep like with like.
  • Make the regularly used items more accessible and use ‘out-of-the-way’ storage for seasonal/infrequently used items.
  • When looking at storage, simple is best. There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest and follow our Facebook and Twitter for regular tips.
  • Make sure the storage spots you decide on work and are easy to use, even the most organised person is not motivated to put something away in an awkward to reach area.
  1. Be mindful– Take a moment to think about all of the things you’ve just let go, why did you have them in the first place? When you next go to purchase something, stop and think about your reasons. Are these new items likely to end up the same way? Then don’t buy them! Put the money away in a box somewhere, give it a few months and see just how much you’ve saved on your impulse buys. And if you need some inspiration read one of our blogs on how to curb your spending habits – Ten-months-down-two-to-go

If you enjoyed this blog please come and follow us on Facebook and Twitter – have a clutter free week everyone!

Images from @Flickr

I feel so guilty about my clutter

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Amassing clutter brings with it a huge range of emotions but the main one we come across time and time again is the guilt.

Guilty because your family are living in chaos, guilty because your friends have busy lives too and they have tidy homes, guilty because that bank statement is proof of how much money has been wasted on retail therapy, guilty because your home is full of gifts you have been given that you will never use, and on and on. The guilt can be overwhelming.

But overcoming that guilt can be tough. There are emotions and doubts standing in your way

  • What if I need this one day?
  • What if the person who gave it to me finds out that I got rid of it?
  • I spent so much money on it; it seems such a waste to get rid of it?
  • Selling it or giving it to a friend would make me feel better
  • What if I do a declutter then go back to square one?

Whilst it is important to understand the psychology that has led you to hold on and amass clutter, the vital part of the decluttering process is drawing a line under things and moving forward with the determination and drive to make your home and life a better place to be. Once you make the decision to start your declutter that day is a day to be celebrated and a process which, however difficult initially, ultimately will be enjoyed.

The amount you spent on the item, the lack of use so far, the fact that someone special gave it to you is less important than your own ability to take control of your life going forwards.  Whether you work with a Professional Organiser or work on your own, you have control of what stays and what goes. The important thing is to learn to let go of the items holding you back from your decluttering goals.

Once you learn to let go of the emotions and gain more clarity in terms of what items truly deserve a space in your home, then you can learn to love your home and live in an organised and peaceful space.

Take a look at our blog about what you can and can’t take to the charity shop and come and find us on Facebook and Twitter  for more tips – we would love to see you!

Clear Your Clutter – Guest Blog

Sandra Czachur is one of the founders of Ayurveda Apothecary and was a Client of ours previously; in this guest blog she shares her experiences of using our professional decluttering and organising service and the benefits of being clutter free. Thank you for the mention Sandra @vatasandra !

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This morning I heard the end of a Radio 4 programme about Hoarding. These days I like to think ‘how could Ayurveda help?’. In the past I have used the services of a Declutterer, The Clutter Fairy, and I can honestly say I felt so much better after ‘letting’ go of all the stuff I really didn’t need. It has also made me think my office could do with a declutter……

The Vedic science of environmental harmony, Vastu Shastra, identifies how clutter creates stress in an environment. Vastu, or “yoga for the home,” comes from the same wisdom texts as Ayurveda, meditation, Jyotish, and yoga. According to Vastu, stress caused by clutter reduces and restricts life-force energy. Depending on the area of your home or office, clutter impacts different aspects of your life in specific ways:

  • Clutter in the northwest affects relationships, business partnerships, and stability of the mind.
  • Clutter in the northeast blocks growth, both spiritually and financially.
  • Clutter in the southeast affects health and productivity. It also affects passion, creativity, and your physical energy.
  • Clutter in the southwest affects support, which includes your skeletal structure (showing up as back pain) and your career.

Clearing clutter is something everyone has to deal with. From a Vedic perspective, once it’s removed, it will free up the energy in your home or office creating an environment where you can thrive. Eliminating clutter simplifies your life and opens the space physically and emotionally for new possibilities to enter.

If your clutter is manageable then it is worth investing time to clear the clutter yourself on a regular basis, if you feel overwhelmed then it might be a good idea to ask friends or family to help, or engage the services of a professional declutterer like Lesley, The Clutter Fairy.

I’m conscious that maintaining a clear space supports my mental clarity, health, and joy. And I’ve discovered that the reverse is true, too: The way to create lasting order in my outer life—in my home, my schedule, and the way I use my resources—comes from clearing out my inner landscape and refocusing on my priorities.

Like most people, I still struggle from time to time to stem the tide of clutter and to balance a busy life. I try to remember that life, like Ayurveda, is an ongoing journey and that the small, positive steps add up and can eventually become good habits.

One small step at a time.

Linda Bretherton and Sandra Czachur are the founders of Ayurveda Apothecary. Our aim is to promote living in harmony with nature. We have designed a wonderful range of natural skin care products to match your own specific Dosha. For more information go to our website www.ayurvedaapothecary.co.uk

[Photo credit: PracticalCures.com]

Dear Clutter Fairy – I’m a handbag hoarder. Help!

Dear Clutter Fairy,

I desperately need your expert help on how to store my handbags! A little handbag obsessed, I went out shopping last weekend and bought yet another Mulberry handbag (for a price I’m even a little embarrassed to disclose). I was about to shove it with the rest of my dust-collecting stash at the bottom of my wardrobe when it suddenly dawned on me just how neglectful and careless I have been with my handbag possessions that are literally worth thousands! I mean, I wouldn’t dream of storing my Swarovski crystal ornaments in this way but unlike my crystal, my handbags don’t have a display cabinet! In fact, they don’t even have a place in my wardrobe – they’re shoved at the bottom with a couple of old pairs of heels. My vintage numbers, favourite patent leather clutches and much-loved Mulberry collection is quite simply getting tarnished, squashed, scuffed and scratched! I’m sure I’m like many others in this handbag storage turmoil – could you please give me some storage direction? My handbags desperately need a wardrobe home…

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Dear Handbag Lover,

First things first, your gorgeous new Mulberry bag needs pride of place, and it needs TLC. You aren’t alone with your handbag collection lurking in the depths of your wardrobe. Modern British homes rarely have the Sarah Jessica Parker walk in wardrobe that we dream of – so we have to be clever and maximise the space we have. Handbags need to be contained so they don’t fall over and plumped so they don’t crease. Most importantly you need to be able to see your collection in its entirety so you don’t fall foul of the 80/20 rule and only use 20% of your bags 80% of the time.

Even though you so want to see your gorgeous bag every time you open your wardrobe the reality is it needs to be covered. Daylight and dust aren’t kind to luxury leather so that dust bag they gave you when you bought the bag needs to be used. Even if not all your bags are designer, most High Street handbags now come with a dust cover or you can easily get hold of them online. If you have so many Mulberry dustbags you are not sure which one holds which bag(lucky you!) use a pretty luggage label with a photograph of your bag and tie it on so it’s visible.

Bubble wrap is great for filling your larger bags so they retain their shape and keep on looking as good as the day you bought them. When you are using the bag just put the bubble wrap in the dustbag so it doesn’t look unsightly.

So how do you best contain your bags? It’s a simple concept and one which contemporary bedroom storage designers are incorporating into their wardrobes. By responding to the modern woman’s needs and tastes, there are some exciting, innovative solutions out there now. You need upright dividers and lots of them. A 50cm wide by 50cm tall section is brilliant for most bag sizes and could even hold 2 or 3 smaller vintage clutches side by side. If you are designing a new wardrobe, take your bag collection into consideration. I see lots of beautifully designed wardrobes on my travels with bags thrown in on high shelves. Don’t let your bags be an afterthought. Make sure the shelves for your bags are at eye level and you have enough to hold your collection. If necessary you can forfeit some of your hanging space for your bags.

I hope I have solved your dilemma – your timeless classic needs to be used and enjoyed for years to come and with the right storage in place that can be a reality. Have fun!

The Clutter Fairy

When you’ve lost someone, the decluttering process is tough

I was pretty much born to be a Clutter Fairy, ask anyone I know, it’s not really work for me, it is second nature to be organised and I genuinely enjoy helping people declutter their homes.

Today I was reminded of something though – just how emotionally difficult decluttering can be. You see, I’ve been doing some decluttering of my own at our family home. I lost my Mum a few years ago to cancer. One minute it was Christmas and she wasn’t feeling too well, by Spring she’d been diagnosed and before the start of the Summer she was gone. She was 56, far too young to being saying goodbye.mourning-214439_1280

We thought about decluttering often, but it never felt quite the right time. But after 4 years had passed we were ready as a family and it was time to start clearing some of her belongings out. Everyone had their chance to take what they wanted and a little more time to get used to the idea. Not that it made it any easier for us. I declutter for a living, but I still found it very hard. I found myself apologising repeatedly to Mum for letting things go, there were the occasional tears and sometimes I just had to take a few minutes for a sit down, cup of tea and a quiet moment to myself.

But I understand that’s all part of the process and whether it’s a separation, bereavement, illness, breakdown of a relationship, redundancy, or whatever horrible stressful situation has been thrown at you, the outcome can often be that things get on top of you. It took my family a few years to come to terms with the fact that we would have to let go of Mum’s possessions, and honestly, there are a few things we just couldn’t bear to part with even a few years down the line.

But I know Mum would be proud, everything that left the house went to her favourite charity and all of her possessions were treated with the love and respect that they deserve.

  • Remember that to preserve memories you need to edit the highlights. If, for example, there is a dinner service that reminds you of happy family times, but it isn’t ever going to be used, keep one place setting rather than the whole service.
  • Decluttering the belongings of a loved one is often done in stages. Time is a great healer. Declutter what feels right now and then tackle it again in another year or so.
  • Only keep things that remind you of happy times.
  • Involve the whole family – everyone has their own memories of their loved ones and should be allowed to keep their own mementos.

So today has reminded me of what an amazing job our clients do and how proud I am of them that they took the plunge and asked for help and started their own decluttering process. It’s not easy, but it is worth it in the long run. So if you are thinking about calling us, please remember, we understand, we’ve been there, we know what you are going through and we are here to help.

Make your New Year’s resolution to declutter a reality

I’m into my 7th year as a Clutter Fairy in 2016 and it’s time for me to reflect as a business owner how things are progressing generally. When I started back in 2009 very few people knew about the possibility of having someone in your home to help with your clutter and so it was a bit of a risk as a business model but now, several years on and over 250 clients later, I’m so delighted that the risk has paid off. I’ve got to be honest, it still feels like fun rather than work, but a business it is and so people spend their hard earned cash on having me and my team help them with their cluttered homes and I’m confident enough to say most feel like it’s some of the best money they’ve ever spent. So what kind of clients do we have?

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Jackie, 35, busy mum of 3, works 9 to 5 (and then some) and likes to spend the precious time she has with her husband and kids, finds time to see her girlfriends and generally has a fulfilled life but she never quite gets round to tackling the dumping ground in her spare room. When her girlfriends come round for wine, she sweeps stuff off floors and surfaces into a carrier bag and hurls it into the spare room where it stays. Every time she opens the door, she feels overwhelmed and out of control and just wishes she could get on top of it.

Jackie is capable of decluttering herself, she has very little emotional attachment to stuff, it’s time she lacks. She calls us, schedules a day in her diary, we come, declutter the room together, find a home for everything, talk strategies, and the job gets done. The key here is that it is a scheduled task that is given priority and is finished.

Eleanor, 55, is a mum and grandma.  Eleanor’s home is immaculate and she knows which cupboard everything is in, but there is a lot of it. She has a big home and has been allowed to spread out especially for the last ten years since her kids left home. She would like to move to somewhere more suitable but is stuck in a rut because of all her stuff. Eleanor was brought up by parents of the make do and mend generation. If something has a use, you keep it. She uses the internet all the time but is still not quite sure what paperwork she should keep so keeps everything.

Eleanor needs a helping hand and reassurance that it’s OK to offload some of her stuff. We go through all her papers explaining fully the pros and cons of what to keep and why but always have her comfort zone in mind. We understand and can visualise smaller homes and how much stuff she will be able to manage and we systematically go through all her belongings to work out what will enhance her life going forwards. The key here is reassurance, working through her stuff with a system that she feels in control of and our ability to visualise a smaller home.

Jean, 60, lost her husband ten years ago and has struggled to get in control of so many things since. Her home has become full of stuff and her family periodically come whiles she’s out and sort rooms out, taking bags and bags of stuff to the tip. That makes her feel vulnerable, she can’t find things she knows she has so she buys it again. She feels guilty, embarrassed and thinks she is not as bad as ‘the ones on the telly’ but feels some sympathy for them.

Jean needs help from someone who is objective, non judgemental, practical and sympathetic. Is she a hoarder? Maybe – there are so many definitions – but we are not going to put a label on Jean. She wants to change, has picked up the phone to ask for our help and we are going to try. It will take a while. The clutter has taken years to build up so it’s not disappearing overnight but, every time we come, we will start to see clarity and progress and Jean will see light at the end of the tunnel. The key here is that we will help anyone who wants to change but we are realistic. We have different clients, just like Jean that we work with regularly and have done over the past 6 years but at some point we will get there.

Our clients are all unique; everyone’s lives, homes and circumstances are different and should be dealt with differently. The one common thing is that they have made a resolution to change and asked The Clutter Fairy to help in that process.  Yes, it’s a strange idea to those people who are fully in control of their homes. Yes, it costs money. Yes, it’s going to take you out of your comfort zone and you’ll go through a huge range of emotions. But you will go through the process with someone that cares, tries to make it fun and will finish the job. It will change your life and it’s going to mean that that resolution you made to tackle your clutter in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 is finally going to be kept and 2016 will be your first year of a clutter free lifestyle.

Where the hell is it all going to go?

So, Christmas is all done – the money is spent, Santa has been, the presents are unwrapped, the kids are happily playing with all their new gifts and whilst you are loving the idyllic Christmas moment, deep down you are wondering where on earth all those toys are going to go. The cupboards are already full to bursting and at some point you are going to want to get your house back to normal.

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I’m not going to lie, as a Mum and as a Clutter Fairy, toys create a challenge in the decluttering world. It’s tough to keep them under control. Even if you are lucky enough to have a dedicated playroom, toys are big, bulky, fiddly with loads and loads of little bits just waiting to get separated from their friends! Your lovely friends, aunties, grandparents, godparents have all bought your little ones the latest toy and now you are faced with the challenge of creating some order.

Now I love decluttering, absolutely love it, but play rooms are my absolute least favourite job in the home. Why? Because you spend hours and hours creating order, creating a system, matching dolls up with their shoes and sorting out your Primo from your Duplo and no sooner are the kids back from school filled with glee at their new organised playroom when the boxes get tipped out and you’re (almost) back at square one.

I’m not saying playrooms are a lost cause but you need to manage expectations. Kids like to play, kids like to make mess, kids move quickly from one toy to another but kids are only kids for a very short amount of time so (as a Mum of teenagers) savour every moment and (as a declutterer) take a deep breath and try to do some small things to help.

  • Use the same organisational model as they use at playgroups and schools. Jigsaws together, craft together, lego together etc.
  • Have a large clear plastic box for crafts so you can see what’s in there and keep them contained.
  • Think about storage carefully. You need storage for toys and probably more than you have already. Most of my clients need very little additional storage in their homes once they have decluttered but if they do, it’s invariably for toys.
  • Can you declutter without your kids being there? Absolutely, but only you know your child and what you can let go without World War 3 breaking out so be sensible and mindful of their favourites.
  • Once they are old enough they should be fully involved in the tidy up process. It’s never too early to instil good behaviour.
  • Make tidying up fun and part of your regular routine. Taking time to turn the lounge back into an adult living space after a day as a playroom is important to the whole family. Introduce a 10 minute race against time to put things away.
  • Involve your children in recycling and donating. It’s a great way for them to understand the value of items and what belongings mean to them and all of us.

But most of all, enjoy the moment and psyche yourself up for a big New Years cull!