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Confined to home and surrounded by clutter

by Lisa Pantling of Clutter Free Living

All of a sudden we are spending an awful lot more time at home, some of us are also working at home, possibly while also entertaining (teaching?!) our children.

For many, this set of circumstances has highlighted an issue they hadn’t really acknowledged before…… stuff! And far too much of it.

If we can find some positives from this difficult time, perhaps it will be that we have had time to pause, think about our buying habits, and look at our home in a new way: a workspace, a sanctuary, (even a school).

It’s a time to be mindful of what we have, and most importantly: what we need.

If you have a collection of things that you save ‘just in case’ – try to finish that sentence, in case of what? Because if there was ever a time of crisis, it’s now – and if you still aren’t using all those extra bits of pieces you kept just in case, surely you never will?

As a registered Social Worker I generally specialise in working with clients in their own homes, often with hoarding behaviours, but I also with families, couples or single people – professionals – active, creative people. People who go about their normal days, working, socialising and doing things they enjoy. But they have realised that too much stuff is holding them back, it stops them finding the things they need, the dust irritates their breathing or they are finding it hard to tidy up and put things away because there is just so much of it.

Most homes are not at the dangerous, often debilitating level of clutter that risks falling and causing injury. However there are many homes that are that little bit too full to function ‘properly’. My clients are stressed, often anxious and sometimes embarrassed about their mess. They may be disorganised, sometimes to a chronic level that means they don’t open their post or attend appointments.

Even small amounts of clutter can cause arguments, stress and resentment in relationships. People often think I have quite a strange job as a Professional Organiser, and can’t believe that people would need someone like me to help them. There are many aspects of our lives where we have support to educate ourselves, build our confidence and change our thinking, but also make life easier! Just think about a personal trainer, or attending a workshop to learn a new skill, things that we invest in for our wellbeing. Decluttering and organising our homes has so many benefits when it comes to our mental health and relationships, having help to do it is nothing to be ashamed of.

During lockdown, and possibly for the next few month I will only work remotely, carrying out sessions over Zoom, using video technology to allow people to let me enter their homes, and support them to get ‘unstuck’, to regain some choice and control over their surroundings, to stop the ‘stuff’ from taking over.

For some clients remote working feels more manageable than my physical presence as it takes away their fear of having a visitor, or the overwhelm from spending a big chunk of time with another person when they may be used to spending a lot of time alone. We can also conduct shorter sessions which is more helpful for families with children, or people who are working from home and may only have a couple of hours to spare.

Aside from my day to day decluttering work I am also the Membership Director for APDO – The UK’s membership association for decluttering and organising professionals, which sets standards, provides professional development and supports the growth of the industry.

A few tips to get you started if you feel like tackling a small area yourself:

  • Choose one small task – not a whole room at once! So choose a drawer or surface area to start with.
  • Be prepared – have categories (I usually use refuse, recycling or donation) to sort your items into – if things are really jumbled up I also use a box to put things that belong in different rooms, then go round with the box at the end, putting things where they belong.
  • Put some music on – it always helps!
  • Take a short break after each task and see if you feel able to do another – and if not, don’t worry – one little bit each day all adds up.
  • Keep in mind throughout: everything needs a home, if it has somewhere to live you are giving yourself a step towards being more organised in the long run.

So, give yourself space – to relax, plan, and live

And whether you just need a little help to get started, or you would like guidance on a full house edit – please do get in touch for a no obligation telephone consultation to find out how I can help.

Lisa Pantling