Any flat surface in our home seems to be a magnet for clutter. Those annoying piles of junk build up – sometimes they get moved from one surface to another, in a half-hearted attempt to tackle them, or sometimes they are just there so long we just accept them as part of the furniture. But having stuff all over the house not only looks messy, it makes it harder to clean and means we waste lots of time looking for things. When things have a home, it makes tidying up a lot less painful!
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So began the big sort out. An attempt to get rid of the excess and better organise everything else. We still have far more stuff than we need (of course we do, with two kids there are tons of toys and other child-related paraphernalia littering our house), but as with most things in life I’m going for an ‘every little helps’ mentality.

I’ll be honest, we still haven’t finished. There are still some cupboards to be sorted out and a big basket of stuff to be given away, but things are looking a lot better already.

  1. Make a list. I love a list. So any excuse really. For every room in your house, make a note of each area that needs sorted – de-cluttering your entire house may seem like a daunting task, but having it all down on paper will help you come up with a plan to tackle it.
  2. Decide how you are going to get through the list. It’s not always possible to dedicate a few days to sorting out the entire house at once, but even if you commit to ticking one thing of the list every day, it will make a difference.
  3. Share out the jobs. Get everyone involved to sort out their own stuff – even young kids can help with sorting toys or clothes.
  4. As you tackle each cupboard or drawer, don’t just put things back in the same place out of habit. Maybe it would be better stored somewhere else, or maybe you just don’t need it any more. For every single item you own, ask yourself:
    • Have you used it in the last 6 months? And are you – honestly – likely to use it in the next 6 months? There will be some exceptions to this – seasonal items, things you want to save for potential future children, keepsakes etc, so I find the 6 months rule doesn’t always work in practice, but it’s a good starting point.
    • Does it have sentimental value?
    • Is it practical / useful and in good working order?
    • If it is clothing, does it fit well and does it make you feel good?
    • Most importantly, does it add any value to your life?

It’s hard not to think about the financial value of items, but even if it cost a lot of money if you no longer need or want it, it adds no value to your life.

  1. As you go round each room, keep a box or bag handy to add in things that you do not want to keep. If you are really not sure that you want to get rid of something, put it out of sight and if after a couple of months you haven’t missed it, then get rid of it. I sometimes do this with toys, and if they haven’t been asked for then I assume the kids have forgotten they exist! Donate it to a charity shop, take it to the tip or sell on-line.
  2. Decide where everything is going to live. Store things that are not used often out of the way – in the loft or garage, or on high up shelves. Seasonal or occasional items shouldn’t be cluttering up areas you use on a daily basis.
  3. Make the most of your space. Consider how best to store your items, in what room. For toys and books, I put together a list of 8 storage solutions that we use. Make sure the things you use most often are in easy reach and that things are put in the most convenient and logical place.
  4. Enjoy how therapeutic it feels to purge your life of all the things you just don’t need any more. It can feel wasteful to get rid of things, but I see it as more wasteful to keep hold of things that you don’t need. It gets in the way. It is just ‘stuff’ at the end of the day, and most of us have far too much of it. Now you just need to keep it up and avoid bringing more junk into the house. I am a lot more conscious now about what I buy and really think about the value it’s going to add to our lives, rather than how much of a bargain it is!
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