The ecstasy of the purchase

Shopping quote

So I shared with you back in January that my two best friends were embarking on a “Buy nothing for a year campaign.” They’re kindly sharing their thoughts on the process with me as I have an insatiable interest in what makes people shop to excess and the effects of that excess on the home. So far so good they’re both sticking to it. Well done, girls. Let me tell you it’s nothing short of a miracle with these two!

So in 13 weeks, a very admirable absence of banned purchases, but there are a few notable developments. Katie is doing a textbook move by replacing clothes and shoes with things for the house. In the strict rules of the game that’s permitted, but it begs the question, is it a clothes fetish that’s the problem or actually the desire to buy ? Is it all about retail therapy regardless of the category? I’m not saying retail therapy doesn’t have its place – I fall for its charms on an all too regular basis. But does retail therapy actually make us feel better and how permanent is the high that accompanies it? What gives us that boost is an individual thing – it can be makeup, shoes, craft items, magazines, DVDs, underwear, candles and the list goes on. But does the purchase of things really lead us to sustainable happiness?

Mary has done some self diagnosis on what might have driven her desire to buy. She was born on Christmas Day and as well as the obvious factor of her birthday potentially being swallowed up by the merriment of Christmas, it has also meant that all her acquiring as a child was focused on one day. Could this contribute to an excessive desire to acquire? It’s an interesting thought. People often express pity for those with a birthday around Christmas time but why?

The rules of the game are providing laughs and debate

– can you accept a clothing gift from someone?

– when you need a uniform item is that allowed?

– if you get a gift voucher can you spend that on clothes?

This blog is designed to get you to think. I’m not a psychologist but work daily alongside people with psychological issues leading to excessive acquisition. I find people’s emotional drivers fascinating. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Decluttering – a New Year’s reality check!

It’s that time of year when the world and his wife are talking about decluttering. Newspapers, magazines and blogs are all trying to motivate us to live 2012 clutter free. Now, motivation is key to a successful declutter, of course, but alongside that you need education on how to tackle the job and a big dose of realism.

As a professional declutterer one of the key skills I need is honesty. I am honest with my clients and I will be honest with you.

So here’s the reality – if you have quite a lot of clutter in your home, it probably didn’t build up overnight; it took months, maybe even years, to get to such an unmanageable level so it shouldn’t be surprising that it will probably take more than just an hour or two to sort through and get your space back to the way you want it to be. There, I’ve said it – it’s not a “Ten minutes a Day for a Clutter Free home”, it’s not a trip out to buy a gorgeous storage unit from Ikea, it’s not about a labelling machine or post it notes. If you have a lot of clutter, it’s going to take time to sort it.

And time is not all you need. More than anything you need focus, determination, motivation and a huge amount of energy. Clearing clutter is emotionally and physically draining if there’s a lot of it.

The ideal scenario is of course to get a professional organiser to help you. What they will try to achieve is a balance between your vision and the amount of stuff you are willing to get rid of. If you have said you want a minimalist home with clear surfaces more akin to an edition of Ideal Home and you only have one carrier bag ready for the charity shop then it’s time for some questions to be asked. A professional will keep you focused, motivated and above all entertained throughout what can be a mind-numbingly tedious job at times.

If a professional is not an option for you try to bear in mind the following.

Having well meaning family to help can be, in my experience, a disaster waiting to happen. A daughter, a mother in law, even a husband is not impartial. If someone has been living with the fallout of your clutter they are likely to harbour a small amount of resentment and perhaps may struggle to understand the  psychology behind your attachment to your things.

If you are going to go it alone you need to be realistic about time. For me an averagely cluttered room takes between four and six hours to declutter, reorganise and the final vitally important part – discarding the stuff to charity, an eBay seller or the tip. And that is based on me working with a client at a reasonable pace.

Be prepared with bin bags, transport to take the stuff away and plan to avoid any distractions (kids, phones, facebook, loose women etc)

Remember it will get worse before it gets better. All that stuff in those drawers and cupboards is going to have to come out to get sorted before it can go back in.

Stay focused on your goal. Don’t move from room to room. If something belongs in the kitchen, for example, put it in a box labelled kitchen and move it later with other things that you find along the way.

I could go on and on but after what might appear to be a very negative blog, I want to end on a positive note. All that is standing between you and a home that you want to be in, where you can find what you need and above all can be proud of, is time, energy and focus. And we’ve all got a bit of that stored somewhere!

Good luck and if you have any questions, let me know.