As you ring in the new year, you may find yourself looking at a house turned upside-down after the chaos of Christmas. Even when the decorations are away for another year, for most people clutter still remains. Whether it’s an overflowing kitchen, a utility room full of random items or a nightmare playroom, most people will have a cluttered room or two.

Vera Keohane is a professional organiser and owner of Enjoy Your Home. She offers in-home tidying services and her decluttering methods are influenced by Japanese professional organiser Marie Kondo, who has sold millions of books worldwide. Vera shares her top tips for decluttering.

1 Visualise

Vera explains that the first step towards organising your home is visualising how you want each room to look and feel.

“If you’re thinking about getting organised, what you need to do is create in your head how you want to feel and function in your own home. You can create a vision in your head, on Pinterest, make a vision board, or you can just keep the dream alive by keeping it in your head of how you want to step out of bed and walk across the floor.”

2 Categories

Vera’s organising method begins with categories. She gives the example of using categories to organise in the kitchen.

“You can start with whatever category you want. It could be your cups, bowls, plates, cutlery, bring them all down and work your way through the kitchen that way. And as you go along, I wouldn’t put anything back into the cupboards until you have gotten rid of what you don’t want.”

She warns against buying new items before decluttering. Buying boxes should be avoided at this time, as they allow unnecessary items to gather.

“Unless you know what you want to go into those boxes, you’re just going to end up with more random stuff thrown into boxes. That’s not decluttering at all.”

Boxes – along with labels – are useful for keeping order once the clutter has been disposed of.

“When I am using those boxes, say for the utility room, I’m talking shoebox size with a clear lid and a clear box. I’d make categories then in the utility room, I’d have one for bulbs, one for batteries, one for electricals, and they can stack on top of each other.

“We’ll see how much of each thing we have left, what size box we need and where they’re going to be stored.

“If there’s a box with ‘batteries’, you’re going to put the batteries back in that box and everybody from the youngest to the oldest will be inclined to do that.”

3 Maintenance

“It’s a three-way process, you declutter first, you get rid of the unnecessary. Then you organise in an orderly fashion. Then there’s maintenance, and unfortunately the maintenance is ongoing,” Vera explains. “It doesn’t stay tidy or organised all by itself. It means you have to change your habits a little bit.

“Schedule a time each evening, like before you go to bed, wipe down the surfaces, fluff up the cushions, because when you come down in the morning you’re coming down to an organised space. If you do a craft or a hobby or something, put the tools away after.”

Organising your home is a process and change doesn’t happen overnight. Set aside time and commitment and you will see results.

4 Cleaning v tidying

People often use the terms cleaning and tidying interchangeably. As Vera highlights, however, they are two different processes.

“There is no point in cleaning at all, unless your place is tidy first. Cleaning is the art of confronting nature, because there’s going to be dirt and dust and it’s an ongoing part of life. Tidying however, is about confronting yourself, because when you go to tidy, you’re tidying items you have brought into your home, you need to find a place for. You need to start asking yourself some questions if you find you can’t function or move around your home.”

5 Keeping joy

The most important thing to remember is that sentimental items will always find a place to belong in the home.

“As long as something brings you joy, I find somewhere to put it in your house, so that when you see it you get a lift. I mean it could be anything but if it’s personal to you and you love it, you keep it.

“Create a vision, commit to the process, use the categories – declutter by category not location. The other thing is, ask yourself genuinely, does this bring me joy? Obviously not everything in your house is going to bring you joy, like a phone charger. You have to be practical as well.”

For more information visit, the Enjoy Your Home Facebook page or Instagram at @enjoy_your_home_

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