‘Spring declutter’ is the new ‘Spring clean’

I’m talking about all things Spring at the moment. There’s still a chill in the air here in Northern Ireland but there are definitely glimpses of better weather to come.

It’s the time of the great Spring Clean, but my heart is always in the decluttering side of things. I DO NOT enjoy cleaning, does anyone?! 🙂 but I love a good clear out. I do think the 2 go hand in hand though. Is there anything better than a clean AND tidy house?

So if you’re about to get stuck into dusting the shelves, getting into the back of the cupboards and scrubbing the skirting boards, why not see if you can do a little decluttering along the way?

To help you get started, here is a quick checklist I created of obvious things to let go of ordered by room. Obviously everyone’s house has different items and rooms, but this is just to get the cogs turning and get you motivated, so you can keep going through the rest of your possessions if you get into the flow.

Hope it helps!

Louise x

Spring Cleaning Checklist

What is everyday clutter (and how to tackle it!)

So…you look around the house and there’s a ton of messy patches – I get it, I’ve been there, it all starts to meld into one! If you have done some work around decluttering your house i.e. donating/selling – it’s actually gone out the door and you STILL have mess….read on dear friend.

You need to find homes for your stuff and start putting it away. But don’t worry, it’s easy if you develop some small and easy habits. Soon enough, you’ll be automatically putting things away, your home will look SO much tidier AND you’ll be able to find stuff when you need it (this still makes me smile!!).

Identify what you’re keeping

As I always recommend when starting a declutter session, grab some bags/boxes and designate them ‘Keep‘, ‘Bin‘ and ‘Donate‘. First of all, if you’re working on a space and you find something that doesn’t need to stay, make sure you put it in the ‘Bin‘ or ‘Donate‘ piles straight away – don’t make yourself sort through things multiple times!

recycling and waste bins

If it helps, you could also sort what you’re keeping in bags or boxes for different rooms or different types of things e.g. things for upstairs/your bedroom or stationery. I often do this when I realise things have crept into a room they shouldn’t stay in – I’ll make a little box of stuff to take back upstairs and put it back all in one go.

Let’s make some decisions

There will undoubtedly be some stuff that has a home and just needs to go back – easy peasy. Now the rest is the harder stuff, the stuff that you’ve unconsciously not been making decisions about where it goes and therefore it just gets put down where there is a free space. Clutter is after all, delayed decision-making (I love that quote!). So lets make some decisions:

storage box
  • Group like items together, so you can see how much you have and choose a home accordingly. This could be a drawer, a box or a jar.
  • Now, where makes most sense for those items to go? Where do you use them most often? If you don’t use them often or you don’t have room nearby e.g. tools, where is best to store them out of the way until you need them?
  • Go with your gut on these decisions, it will help you remember where you’ve put things – you can always change things later if it’s not working for you – nothing is set in stone so don’t panic 🙂

Developing good habits

You want to avoid the frustration you’ve been having about the mess and not being able to find things, right? So let’s keep it nice and tidy.

Remember, it takes the same 5 seconds to put something back RIGHT NOW as it will a week from now…

Try to catch yourself putting things down where they don’t belong and instead spend 5/10 seconds putting it back in its new home where you can find it again next time. Remember, it takes the same 5 seconds to put something back RIGHT NOW as it will a week from now. That’s a week of it annoying you (consciously or subconsciously) that you could avoid!

If you have a lot of things to go back, what I find can work well is a catch-all box for during the day, this has been a game-changer for some of my clients. You can put things in it that need to go back in a certain room or say, upstairs, so that you’re not doing a crazy amount of back and forth (unless you want to get more steps in). BUT make sure you put that stuff back at the end of the day.

I find even 5 minutes of a tidy up at the end of the day can make a big difference in a short period of time. And the more you see the results of your good habits, the more likely you are to keep it up!

Let’s get going!

Now that I’ve helped you identify the items in your house that don’t have a home and what to do, you can conquer those piles that have been annoying you. You deserve a space that works for you, not AGAINST you. It just requires a little bit of self-awareness, small habits and your home will make you smile again! Go forth and conquer!

A different Christmas…how to buy gifts without adding to the clutter

This year will be a Christmas like no other. And with people in lockdown or more fearful of physically going to stores we will be doing a lot more online shopping. And what does online shopping equal? More clutter!

So how do we keep ourselves safe, buy gifts for our friends and loved ones but not add to the clutter that stresses us out so much? Usually the obvious answer would be to buy ‘experiences’ for people or take them out for a nice dinner or day out, but that just might not be possible at the moment or any time soon in some countries – but fear not. Read on for some great ideas…

Gift vouchers

Sometimes we feel like it’s not putting too much thought into a gift it it’s ‘just’ a voucher but it really depends. Is it a voucher for their favourite store?? Are they an Amazon fanatic? Send them a voucher but add a nice personal note about WHY you picked that voucher just for them.

Digital gifts

What about digital gifts….is there a new album out that you know they would love? Is the latest movie in someone’s favourite franchise now available online? What about a new book release from their favourite author? I’ve just bought a new Ken Follett book from my favourite book series so my husband can give me it for Christmas. We don’t buy each other that many presents anymore because we don’t like buying stuff for the sake of it, but then what we do buy really means something!

Here are some useful links to buying digital gifts:

Make it personal

Do you remember when you were a kid and you would draw a picture for mummy or daddy and you couldn’t wait to give it to them? Or can your kids not wait to press that piece of paper in your hand that they worked so hard on?? Why do we lose that? Why don’t you make something for someone that you care about? What better gift could you give to someone than something you spent time and love on? Here are some ideas:

  • Some sweet treats
  • If you’re crafty, make them a card or picture
  • A beautiful meal
  • Record your kids reading a story or singing a song for their grandparents

Give them something to look forward to

You might not be able to gift someone an experience, but you can certainly promise to do something awesome with them when it IS possible again. Write them a beautiful card and tell them the holiday you’ll go on when you can fly again, the awesome day trip to somewhere new, the beautiful meal you’ll have when your favourite restaurant opens again, an offer to babysit your nieces/nephews when things settle down.

A final note

These things might not feel that exciting or ‘normal’ but hey, life isn’t normal anymore. Maybe the one thing we’ve learnt from 2020 is to focus on what really matters and not feel like we have to spend a fortune on the biggest, brightest, fanciest present going. Just a thought….

How to stop drowning in paper!

Even with online banking and email receipts, we still seem to have a lot of the stuff don’t we? Here are a few tips and questions to get you thinking about your paper clutter and get it under control.

Do you have somewhere easy to put your recycling? We have 3 IKEA bins like these under our sink that we immediately sort our recycling into so it’s easy to just chuck into our recycling bins outside every week. This will obviously depend on your local council and what they collect, especially if you have shredded paper – we have to sort this into a separate bag first.


What stops you dealing with the post as it comes in? Do you not have time during the day to deal with it? Maybe you could have a little basket near the door where the post goes in during the day but you deal with it at a regular time e.g. every evening? Then everything that can be recycled goes away and you make a to-do pile of anything that needs action?


And where do your receipts go? Are they clogging up your purse? Maybe you could set a time at the end of the week where you recycle any you don’t need anymore and file away any that you need to keep?

Another quick tip is to take pictures of e.g. school notes and letters and keep them in a specific album on your phone. Then you can get rid of the actual paper straight away but you still have the important information! You could clear these photos out at the end of term. If you’d rather have things on your computer and you have a scanner, scan them into a specific folder – and remember to keep a back up!

Hopefully the flowchart will give you an easy reference for getting rid of the paper that is cluttering up your house and get you into a good routine. Little and often as they say!

Head on over to my Facebook or Instagram to say hi and leave me a comment if you found this article useful, I love to hear from you!

The Minimalists 30 day Minimalism game – a retrospective

In July, my husband and I decided to try the Minimalists 30 day Minimalism Game as a fun way to get rid of more items out of the house. We have been good at decluttering this year and I couldn’t tell you how many items/bags of stuff we have gotten out of the house (although the Minimalism Game alone got rid of over 1000!).

I will admit, that according to the rule of getting the items out of the house by midnight, we cheated a bit. I was not running down to the charity shop every day, so we just got a big box and put the stuff in there to be dealt with when it was full.

How it progressed…

It was easy the first week, just 1 item on day 1, 2 on day 2 etc. It was fun wandering around the house and spying things you had developed a blind spot for that were prime candidates for our charity box. Alan and I would delight in being the first to reach the target that day!

Obviously it was easier at the weekends when we had more time to look for items when it got to the higher end. Alan started working at home when Covid hit so I became a SAHM as I’d been trying the self-employment thing. When we hit the 20s (items to get rid of), it could be hard to find enough items without a bit of panic setting in.

I will say that it made us tackle our attic in a BIG way, which I will be forever grateful for. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is great and all, but it was always in the back of my head that we had tons of boxes up there that I’d “get round to some day” (yea right!). This was the catalyst for finally going through my mountains of craft stuff, letters and memories from school days (20+ years ago!) and countless other random items we’d dragged around between different houses.

We had DVD and CD collections that we finally ripped onto the computer to save space. I donated books I knew I would never get round to reading (again) and it was so freeing to let them go! I’d already gutted my clothes a few times so there weren’t too many a-ha moments in my closet. Some sentimental items got the heave ho, but I have to say that there’s still a little bit of work to be done on that. But that’s ok, we are still in such a better place than we were!

Summary

Was this worth the slight bit of stress we started to feel towards the end? Without a doubt yes! This ‘game’ made an otherwise mundane and overwhelming task actually quite fun and the benefits have been immense. I used to get annoyed daily at all the stuff lying around and that just hasn’t happened anywhere near as much lately! Less tidying up time for mummy, yay!

We don’t need all this ‘stuff’ to be happy

Also I think it was great education for the kids. Although they dropped out of their side of the bargain after 10 days (and that was for just 1 item a day – between the 2 of them!), they were still invested in mummy and daddy winning the challenge each day. They have learned that we don’t need all this ‘stuff” to be happy, and what better life lesson is there?

How to stop shopping too much and collecting future clutter

Someone recently asked me for some tips on how to stop shopping so much with a view to collecting less clutter in the future. This has become all too easy in the current conditions where we’re spending more and more time at home, attached to our phones and sometimes bored and needing something to fill the time (this can be either the shopping itself or in using the item that we eventually get).

It’s a great question and first of all I would encourage anyone reading this to try to identify the motivations behind the shopping habits that are troubling you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Has it just been during lockdown as an antidote to boredom or did you like to shop beforehand?
  • Are you buying things you need or want? (Both are valid btw!)
  • If you’re buying things you WANT, are you actually using them/are they adding to your life? Or does the initial buzz wear off shortly after it comes in the post? BE HONEST!
  • Imagine it wasn’t SO easy to buy those items…would you still have gone through with it? One-click buying can save you time, but it almost certainly doesn’t save you money!

Becoming aware of your shopping habits and whether you’re buying more than you’d like is the first step to tackling any issues you have with your spending and/or the clutter its bringing into your home. This post is not to make you feel guilty in any way, we’ve all been there right? What I want you to do is become more INTENTIONAL with what is coming into your home. It may be that you’re NOT buying more than you want or need. It also may be that it’s just too easy for you and you need some practical advice on staying away from the checkout button.

Some practical tips

  • Is it the process of shopping you enjoy (like virtual window shopping) or getting the actual item and using it? If it’s the process, how about adding items to a wish list so you can think about it a bit more before you purchase or people could get you those items for a special occasion like your birthday or Christmas.
  • Make it harder to actually shop and buy items e.g. if it’s an online shop that you have an app for e.g. Amazon, Wish etc. take the app off your phone, turn off any kind of one-click buying and clear your passwords and credit card information if possible. This way when you go to shop it’s not EASY and it will make you stop and think if you really need that giant 2 feet novelty panda slipper that caught your eye!
  • If it’s a habit you do at a particular time e.g. sitting down with a cup of tea, phone in hand to start scrolling through items to buy, replace it with another habit like reading a book and try to leave your phone elsewhere.
  • You could also implement a ‘1-in 1-out’ system so that you’re not gaining MORE items. This can be really useful for kids toys too, but that’s another blog post! 🙂

As with any foray into dealing with clutter, if you make a good effort to clear what is already taking up your space, it is a fantastic incentive to keep it like that. The time and money you will save from getting rid of things and being intentional about what comes into your house is very motivational.

Final thoughts

  • Be honest with yourself about WHY you’re buying the items
  • Don’t make it too easy, avoid temptation!
  • Change your habits as a way to curb your shopping
  • Be INTENTIONAL about anything that you buy