In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap, the job's a game. - Mary Poppins
If only we had your power Mary Poppins to click our fingers, and watch the clutter and chaos in our homes obediently line up and march away!
This week we asked our Instagram followers, do you think decluttering and organizing makes you happier and healthier? A lot of you replied stating: “tidy house, tidy mind”. I agree! Making time to organize and declutter your home (or office) offers wonderful benefits for our mind, health and time.
Clutter in the home = clutter in the mind
Studies show that clutter causes havoc on your mind, which can disturb your sleep, and can increase your stress levels. As a result, you can be more irritable and anxious. The benefits of a tidy, organized house are endless. It boosts your productivity and creativity, saves you time and money, exercises the decision-making muscle in your brain, and improves your sleep.
Search ‘declutter and organize’ on the internet, and you’ll be overwhelmed with articles, videos, and memes telling you how to make it happen. Let's cut through the clutter of all the ‘how tos’ and KIS (Keep It Simple) the disorganized chaos out of our homes.
Dreaming big is a wonderful thing, but not when you feel like your home is disorganized and out of control. The prospect of starting will be daunting and you could end up procrastinating.
It’s important not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. Write yourself a list, breaking down the tasks you want to complete into easily obtainable jobs. Once the task is complete, tick it off your list so you can look back and see what you have achieved.
Start with a walk-through
Every year before Christmas, one of my friends goes into each of her children’s bedrooms with a bin liner and fills it with broken or unwanted toys, clothes that don’t fit and anything that doesn’t belong there.
This is a great idea for your entire home, and something I do in my own home. It’s a small task that creates instant satisfaction. Walk around your house with a trash bag - or washing basket - and put everything that does not belong into it. You may like to have two bags. One bag for trash which you can then take straight outside. The other bag is for everything else, like items that need to be put away, things you no longer need or use. Think of this task as a 'spot clean’, or wiping off the surfaces, because once it is complete it will allow you to stand back and see where to go from there.
One of the best tasks you can start with is a walk-through.
You can complete this task in one go, or over a few days room-by-room. It will provide you with an instant sense of achievement.
Once your walk-through is complete, sort out what you have collected and divide it into groups:
Take out the trash which you can toss or recycle straight away.
Rehome items you collected during your walk-through and want to keep. If your home is anything like ours, you will find all sorts scattered throughout the house thanks to little hands and curious minds.
If an item doesn’t have a home, find one. Consider boxes, baskets or tins to store items that need a home to return to after they have been used. You can even use your Toddlekind storage baskets. They are great for more than just storing your children’s toys and look nice on display while hiding things away.
Be ruthless. I know a Mum who has filled her loft with boxes of her children’s art and craft. The contents of her loft could easily fuel a bonfire for a good few hours. I am the opposite, and throw out my children’s art and craft. I take a photo of it and digitally file it away. Once my child has finished at nursery, I create a photo book that keeps all their art and craft neatly together. It’s a space-saving treasure they (and I!) can enjoy for years to come without the fire hazard.
Have a good cull of items you no longer use, need or like.
The key to culling is to be ruthless. In our house, we’re big on reusing and recycling. Once we’re finished using something and no longer need it, or haven’t used it in a while, then we either give it away or sell it.
Repeat after me, “if I don’t use it, wear it or like it I’m going to move it on”.
Nowadays there are so many different platforms available to sell and give away your preloved items. Some allow you to sell for free, others will charge you a fee so do your research on which platform is best for you.
Purge the paper pile
My walk-throughs always gather a shopping bag filled with paperwork - it’s a big shopping bag! It all starts so innocently, with a couple of things needing my attention and quickly gets out of control. Toddlekind’s Instagram poll confirmed I am not alone with 96% of you raising their hand to the same struggle! So this next task for your list is a must.
80 - 90% of the paperwork we keep we never access again.
A good place to start is to ask yourself, “why am I keeping this, and will I ever really need it again?” Keep anything you may need for legal or tax reasons including warranty receipts, and shred or recycle anything you don’t need. Remember to be careful when disposing of your personal details. If you’re keeping it for sentimental reasons, but could throw it away, take a photograph.
File your paperwork using clear and accurate titles. Avoid generic terms likes miscellaneous, instead focus on the ‘obvious’ such as bank statements, manuals, tax returns (consider filing each tax year in separate files within).
Once you have worked your way through your list and gathered, organized and decluttered your way to a tidy house, your final step is maintenance. Keep your surfaces clear with everything in its place. My two top tips for successfully maintaining are:
Consistency is key.
Put things away when you’re finished with them including little things like the TV remote. Or give (or sell) them once you no longer need them. If the clutter sneaks up on you, grab your trusty garbage bag. Don’t wait until the new year!
Take a minute … Don’t be like Mike
Benjamin Franklin said, “for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”. Take a minute to complete tasks while they are manageable, don’t let them pile up and overwhelm you.
Every year, my husband leaves the tax return for the last few weeks before it is due … every. single. year. He then spends days pouring over figures and receipts that he could have spent 20 minutes reviewing every month.
I’m going to leave you with a challenge to try a walk-through on your home. If you take a before, and after photo, we would love to see it so tag Toddlekind and include the hashtag #dontbelikemike … Mike will love it!