Do you give yourself permission to declutter?

If you experience resistance to reviewing your things, you may not be giving yourself permission to declutter.

I’ve worked with lots of clients who find it difficult to get started or complete their declutter project. If things have built up, it can feel overwhelming, you might don’t know where to start, may find it hard to make decisions about what to do with things and may worry about the decisions you have made.

Often, the items have crept in or hung around too long; thoughtful gifts; items inherited from loved-ones; purchases made with hard earned money; items from a special event or era. You might feel obligated to keep them or be the custodian of these special objects. And once they arrive, they outstay their welcome, but releasing them can feel like an impossible task.

One way to overcome this barrier is to give yourself permission to declutter.

When you give yourself permission to declutter; you take control of the situation. You allow yourself to make decisions and to take action. Whereas the stuff around you might represent the past, others wishes or preferences and weigh down your home; giving yourself permission to make a change removes a barrier, enables you to put your wishes first, and to focus on the things and activities you love.

Give yourself Permission

Below are three ways to that permission can help you to declutter your home.

Permission to release the things that no longer serve you

It’s so easy to shop, acquire things, and we receive gifts or inherit things all the time. Often things build up and we don’t even notice it, until we do!

When it’s time to work through it all, it can feel hard to let things go. There are many reasons we feel like this, not least because it’s a normal human trait to place a high value on the things we own – even if we might not wish to acquire them again, given the choice!

Give yourself permission to let the go with these useful phrases:

  • I don’t use this but if I need it again in future, I can borrow/hire/buy second-hand/buy it again
  • It’s wasted by not being appreciated in my home, if I release it someone else can enjoy it
  • I am freeing up my home for the things (or space) that I value the most
  • There are lots of other things that are more important to me
  • I can hold on to the memory by taking/finding photos, keeping a diary entry about the item, but I don’t need to keep the item itself

You have permission to let it go.

Permission to get some support

I know that asking for help can sometimes feel like giving up, but getting support with a task that is important to you can be the difference between achieving your goal and not. Whereas you have other strengths, you may not have the expertise, energy, time or headspace to work on everything yourself. It’s more efficient to find someone who can help you.

We all have natural preferences or styles that can make it easy or more difficult to get things done – for those of us (I include myself here) that need deadlines, accountability and extrinsic reward, a professional organiser can provide this kind of support too.

If friends and family have the skills and interest, ask them for help. They may be able to give moral support or practical help. You’ll also find online groups, forums, podcasts and TV programmes that can offer ideas and encouragement.

Much like hiring a gardening, a personal training or a cleaner; a professional organiser lives and breathes their specialism. Professional Organiser’s have the knowledge, skills and experience to help make a changes. And because organising and decluttering is their favourite thing to do, they have the headspace to think about these things and come up with creative ways to do things, where you may not.

You have permission to ask for help.

Permission to prioritise your needs and wishes

Decluttering is a difficult task because we get attached to the things we own. They are familiar, may be comforting and we may feel obliged to keep them for a whole range of reasons.

Give yourself permission to prioritise the things you love and want around you. To create an environment that supports your mental health, the things you love to do the most, your favourite things and happy memories and your personal style.

Focus on keeping the things that you love, that make you feel great and that support you and your lifestyle, rather than the things you feel obliged to keep because they were gifted, cost money or were valued by others. You have permission to prioritise your life in your home.

If you want to dedicate some space to keeping memories this is a nice way to create balance, but do this intentially and prioritise space for your life and your treasures first.

It’s not selfish, in fact it’s the reverse. If you look after yourself, you will have the energy to love and support others in turn.

You have permission to put your needs first.

What do you need to give yourself permission to do in order to create the life you want?

Would you like to work with me? Find out more About Me or my Services.

Five reasons you find it difficult to clear clutter and what you can do about it.

When I tell people what I do, they ask me all sorts of questions about my work but this has to be the one subject that comes up the most.

Why do I find it so difficult to release my possessions and what can I do about it?

If you find yourself distracted by your possessions when you want to relax with a cup of tea, your wardrobe overflows making it difficult to decide what to wear, or, your surfaces need to be cleared before you can clean or prepare a meal, then you are affected by clutter.

Clutter is the stuff that gets in your way. The items may be treasured possessions, or paperwork and other disorganised debris, that has gathered on surfaces like it has a mind of it’s own.

Why is it we find it difficult to release some items?

A number of researchers have considered this question and further research is needed, but here are some of the reasons it’s not so is easy to tackle your possessions.

Perhaps the item:

  1. reflects something about you
  2. is part of your personal history, triggers memories, or has associations with family history
  3. relates to an experience or a gift received from a valued friend (even if you dislike it)
  4. is personified or has become familiar over time and you've come to believe it’s unique (perhaps you've given it a name)
  5. enabled a transition, such as a child's toy or blanket that helped them become more independent

Feelings about objects are complicated but they often change over time and as we change as individuals. We may be affected by memories associated with the items or fear of losing the item. Some people experience grief when releasing items.

So how might you manage this?

For some, the practical considerations are enough to enable them to release things they no longer need or love. It may make decisions easier to think about their lives with greater space and freedom, the physical, financial or emotional costs of keeping items in the home, or the benefits that others will derive from receiving donations.

Other approaches to try:

  • Acknowledge the emotions you are feeling, give yourself time to deal with them. Perhaps journaling or talking will support you but do get help if you need it. You don’t have to do it alone!

  • Think about where you are now and what’s important. Give thanks for the past but begin to focus on a positive present and future

  • Think about how you can keep the memory or sense of who you are without keeping the item (would taking photos or keeping a small part of the item be helpful? If you have lots of items, could you select a few to keep?)

  • Give it time – take your time. Start with the easy items, keep items you aren’t ready to part with and come back to these later when you may feel differently

'Time is the wisest counsellor of all' - Pericles

You may need to give it time, but the very process of sorting through our possessions and removing the easier items brings focus and awareness. As we work on the task, we change and grow. And over time it becomes easier to release things that had felt meaningful but that no longer serve us.

If you have questions or need sensitive support to work through your things, I'm here for you. Feel free to contact me on 07970 989955.



Spring Clearing Week

APDO members are focusing on clearing our closet this Spring Clearing Week so I’ll be sharing wardrobe clearing ideas and my experience of the Six-item Challenge on Facebook and Instagram all week – join me and watch out for a guest appearance by Helen, The Wardrobe Fairy, from 16th March!

Spring Clearing Week 2020-logo

Focus on what you can control, forget the rest!

If you didn't quite get to everything you wanted to do in January, don't fret. We have the advantage of being at the start of a new month and every day brings a fresh opportunity to renew your focus and begin something.

You may know of this concept but I think it's amazing and wanted to share it with you in case you've not come across it before. It's an amazing mindset trick that puts you thoroughly in control of your goals.

Have you found you get stressed out by all sorts of things? Maybe some of these:

  • the jobs you didn't get done around the house last year
  • what will happen now that we've left the EU
  • the mounds of paperwork taking over your kitchen counters
  • your environmental impact
  • your partner's messy bedside table
  • the state of the economy
  • how you never have enough clean shirts on a Friday

Don't stress - use your zone of control!

Often we experience stress when we lack control, so the key to reducing your stress lies in focusing on what you can control.

Think of these three elements:

  1. Zone of control (blue) - the things going on here are within your control to change
  2. Zone of influence (white) - you can influence the elements within this area but you cannot personally control what happens here
  3. Zone of concern (green) - you cannot control or influence what happens within this area

Zone of control diagram

You can reduce your stress levels by focusing your energy on the elements within your Zone of Control, those things that you can personally change. For example, you can make sustainable purchases, recycle and reduce your energy consumption to lower your impact on the environment. You might go further and change to renewable energy sources, choose to walk more often rather than use your car and so on.

How can we use this mindset at home?

When it comes to our homes, we are busy, have other things to focus on and often live with other people (or pets) who create mess too.

If you are getting frustrated with the state of your home, you could try taking action on the things that are within your control, such as:

  • decluttering and organising your side of the bedroom (often when we get organised this rubs off on others as they notice the benefits of our efforts)
  • organising your paperwork and start to manage it regularly so that it doesn't pile up
  • adding a weekly 'light load' diary reminder to ensure that you have shirts
  • helping your child practice tidying and giving away toys they no longer use (important skills for the future!)
  • create zones with accessible storage so that things can be tidied away easily when finished with

What other things can you do to organise the things within your control?

So the next time you feel stressed...

Where can you take control?

And remember ... let go of the things that you can't control!

(Yes it takes practice but it's worth it!) ;o)

Three Top Organising Principles

I was asked to share my top tips recently and jumped at the chance to share these top three organising principles.

These principles are so effective for helping you to get organised and keep on top of your clutter because they make you intentional about how you manage your things!

1) Have a place for everything.

One of the key reasons we get into a muddle is because we don’t have a home for our things so they are left lying around or put down in a spot to deal with later, and later never comes. As we know clutter attracts more clutter, and before you know it, your counters or floors are a mass of things that don’t have a home.

Make sure you decide on a home for the items you want to keep so that you and others in your household know where to return them when finished with. If you know where it goes, you’re more likely to return it to its place – whether that’s straight away or when having a daily tidy-up. You also know the first place to look when you need it again!

2) Store the things you use most often in easy to access spots.

Ofcourse this makes complete sense when we think about being able to find things as you need them, but the real reason we want easy access is to make it easier to put them back!

If you need an item, you are quite likely to get a stool out and climb up to a high shelf to get it, but you are also more likely to leave it out because you can’t face the effort needed to return it. You may think to yourself, I’ll need it again in a few days anyway so what’s the point in making the effort? That’s a recipe for clutter just there!

Make it easy to put away, and you will save yourself the clutter and a big tidy-up job later.

3) Review your things regularly.

Often we don’t even remember what we do have. Possessions get hidden behind other things, those items we use infrequently get forgotten and if we can’t find something, we may even purchase another when we need it. A regular review of your possessions (not necessarily all in one go!) is an invaluable way of understanding what you have and ensuring that it’s accessible. If it’s no longer needed, this also gives you a great opportunity to remove it from your home – selling, donating or recycling as you go.

The One in, One out rule is a helpful prompt for this review. Each time you buy something new, move an item on. It could be a similar item such as a when you replace a jumper or bathroom towel set, or it could just be another unrelated item of a similar size. The key is to maintain (or even reduce if you wish) the number of possessions in your home so that you don’t become overwhelmed with a build-up of things over time.

If you like these ideas, sign-up to receive for my Five Free Super Kitchen-Organising Ideas direct to your inbox.

The Perfect Time to Organise Children’s Things

The school holidays are the perfect time to review your children’s toys and clothes.

As you all take a breath after the chaos of the term-time routine, you will start to spot the things that your children no longer need, have grown out of and fallen out of love with.

The holidays provide a great opportunity to remove those old toys, unloved items, out-grown books and clothes. Whilst you could whisk some things away while your children are at nursery or school (and I have done this myself occasionally), it’s good to involve them, engaging them in the task, methods and reasons why it’s good to pass things and important to help them create healthy habits that will stay with them into adulthood.

You will help your growing child to make room for new hobbies, new toys (as birthdays come along) and  new interests and it’s a great activity to keep everyone entertained on a rainy day.

A good organising session will also mean you’ll all go into the new term feeling lighter, clearer and better prepared.

Organising our possessions is a valuable life skill we can teach our children - Laura Williams

It can feel daunting but involving your children in the activity gives them:

  • A joint activity to do with you
  • The ability to find what they want to play with easily
  • A sense of responsibility for their own things
  • Skills that will stay with them as they grow
  • Some appreciation of the toys they have
  • Ability to share their things with other less fortunate children

Baby dolls

In the same way you want to be engaged, enjoy activities and understand why you need to do them, so do your children.

How you engage them twill depend on their age and their personality, so here are 10 ideas to try:

  1. Explain what you are going to do together and why
  2. Make it fun with a game, playing music or having a race
  3. Create a competition with a prize for the most well organised room
  4. Talk about children less for fortunate than themselves and get them to imagine what it might be like
  5. Get them to make a list of their most favourite toys so that you can ‘protect’ these
  6. Show them that they will be able to find the things they want to play with more easily
  7. Explain that you’ll be able to store toys close to where they want to play with them so it’ll be easier to play
  8. Ask them to look around a messy room and ask them how it feels, get them to imagine what it would be like if there was clear space to play on the floor, do crafts or dance about 
  9. Show them videos, pictures from websites or leaflets from charities that support children, explain that these children don’t have any toys and will love to receive one of theirs that they no longer need
  10. Explain that there is not lots of room in the house so it’s important than when we no longer need something we give it to someone else to enjoy. Give examples of things you’ve managed in this way

Before you embark on your organising session make sure that you are ready for a declutter first:

  • Get boxes ready for charity donations, recycling and rubbish
  • Choose a room or area (such as area of room, a cupboard) depending on the time available
  • Think about how you are going to remove the items you’ve sorted out from your home before someone find them and changes their mind

Once you’ve decluttered and know what you want to keep, organise items by category, storing them where they’wll be used.

See part 2, coming soon, for storage ideas for children’s clothes and toys.

About OrganisedWell

Would you like help getting organised?

Laura Williams, Founder and Professional Organiser


If you need guidance, ideas and practical support to make more of your home, organise your possessions in a way that supports your best life or to get started with your decluttering project, then give me a call.

I provide tailored advice and practical support to clients looking to make changes, to create calm, ordered space and free up time and money to focus on the important things in life. I specialise in organising rooms, garages, wardrobes, paperwork and much more; see my services or get in touch.