Let Me Introduce You To The Clutterfairy

When I first started out on the road to a Family Life Simply Done over 4 years ago , the first thing I did was start to declutter. I believe this is the starting point for many life-simplifiers. What I have discovered, is that there isn’t an end to decluttering. It’s a routine, a habit, a work in progress. 

Recently, I contacted Lesley Spellman aka The Clutterfairy. Lesley kindly offered to do a guest post, and also be on hand to answer any of your clutter questions…

So without further ado please let me introduce you to The Clutterfairy!

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 spring clean and declutter. 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, put them in the comments box and I will try my best to answer them all. Happy Decluttering!

Lesley

**Why not head over to Lesley’s Facebook page and join in the conversation?**

    
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • simplybeingmum April 18, 2013, 4:45 pm

    I’ll kick off with a question Lesley. I’m still struggling with my sentimental hoard. In fact it’s started growing again. What top tip can you give me to finally get it to sink in that throwing away a piece of paper with my daughters drawing on isn’t a terrible thing to do?

    • Lesley Spellman April 19, 2013, 8:18 am

      Hi Jo and thanks for asking me to guest blog for you. Sentimental clutter is for most people the hardest to tackle. Keeping memories is important so it’s all about your own level of comfort. Bear in mind that you are editing the highlights of yours or your children/parents/siblings’ lives. If you get that warm aaah feeling inside when you look at something, keep it. If you can’t remember who painted it, let it go. In terms of old schoolbooks, I always recommend keeping creative writing books, RE books and so on because they are the ones that show your child’s personality. A spelling book, maths or science book is fairly impersonal and the contents could have been written by any child so those are the ones to let go. I have clients who have kept belly button cords – there is something about that that has an eeuugh feeling rather than an aaah. Better to look at a beautiful photo of you with your newborn although if we’re honest that memory is in our hearts and we really don’t need a physical reminder. I could go on for ever about sentimental stuff but I hope that’s given you a bit of something to go at. Good Luck!!

  • simplybeingmum April 18, 2013, 4:45 pm

    I’ll kick off with a question Lesley. I’m still struggling with my sentimental hoard. In fact it’s started growing again. What top tip can you give me to finally get it to sink in that throwing away a piece of paper with my daughters drawing on isn’t a terrible thing to do?

    • Lesley Spellman April 19, 2013, 8:18 am

      Hi Jo and thanks for asking me to guest blog for you. Sentimental clutter is for most people the hardest to tackle. Keeping memories is important so it’s all about your own level of comfort. Bear in mind that you are editing the highlights of yours or your children/parents/siblings’ lives. If you get that warm aaah feeling inside when you look at something, keep it. If you can’t remember who painted it, let it go. In terms of old schoolbooks, I always recommend keeping creative writing books, RE books and so on because they are the ones that show your child’s personality. A spelling book, maths or science book is fairly impersonal and the contents could have been written by any child so those are the ones to let go. I have clients who have kept belly button cords – there is something about that that has an eeuugh feeling rather than an aaah. Better to look at a beautiful photo of you with your newborn although if we’re honest that memory is in our hearts and we really don’t need a physical reminder. I could go on for ever about sentimental stuff but I hope that’s given you a bit of something to go at. Good Luck!!

  • Amy April 19, 2013, 3:42 am

    Hi Lesley, I’m a borderline hoarder. Clothes, “stuff”, crafts. How do I separate my memories from my possessions to let them go? The sweater that I bought with my first pay cheque and still looks great but I haven’t worn in a long time… the dress up costumes that will be good “someday” and if I gave them away would cost me more by buying new ones once they’re gone… I can always make up an excuse! Advice?

  • Amy April 19, 2013, 3:42 am

    Hi Lesley, I’m a borderline hoarder. Clothes, “stuff”, crafts. How do I separate my memories from my possessions to let them go? The sweater that I bought with my first pay cheque and still looks great but I haven’t worn in a long time… the dress up costumes that will be good “someday” and if I gave them away would cost me more by buying new ones once they’re gone… I can always make up an excuse! Advice?

  • Lesley Spellman April 19, 2013, 8:26 am

    Hi Amy, the whole of my job wrapped up in one question! Well, it really depends on how much space you have in your home and what your personal circumstances are. There is not one rule for all. If you have space in your wardrobe for your sweater and the memory is vivid and special (which I suspect it is) then keep it. The problem comes when you have too much stuff for the space you live in – that’s when the decisions become harder. A thrifty hoarder is has a tough time parting with stuff but if you’re struggling for space always look at the worse case scenario. If you needed a pirate costume, a field mouse or a Dorothy some day, could you go out and get a new one? If the answer is yes, then let it go. People say there are so many people living in the past or the future – keeping stuff from the past as memories and for the future just in case. My advice is if you know you will need the costumes and you have the space, don’t worry. If not, live life in the present and start asking do you NEED it, LOVE it, or USE it? If not, the Charity Shops will WELCOME it. Good Luck!!

  • Lesley Spellman April 19, 2013, 8:26 am

    Hi Amy, the whole of my job wrapped up in one question! Well, it really depends on how much space you have in your home and what your personal circumstances are. There is not one rule for all. If you have space in your wardrobe for your sweater and the memory is vivid and special (which I suspect it is) then keep it. The problem comes when you have too much stuff for the space you live in – that’s when the decisions become harder. A thrifty hoarder is has a tough time parting with stuff but if you’re struggling for space always look at the worse case scenario. If you needed a pirate costume, a field mouse or a Dorothy some day, could you go out and get a new one? If the answer is yes, then let it go. People say there are so many people living in the past or the future – keeping stuff from the past as memories and for the future just in case. My advice is if you know you will need the costumes and you have the space, don’t worry. If not, live life in the present and start asking do you NEED it, LOVE it, or USE it? If not, the Charity Shops will WELCOME it. Good Luck!!

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