To be honest, I’m not a fan of rules. In the field of Home Organising what works is what matters. The needs of every client are unique, from people with hoarding behaviours to busy families with robust little kids.
However, there are some basic principles that can be applied to most homes. Putting them into practice helps to maintain a tidy clutter-free space, whether it’s your wardrobe or the whole property.
Golden Rule #1.
You have control over what enters your door, gate or garage. You can choose to not carry, drive or push with your foot (while carrying your toddler), the Things that you do not need or love into your house.
- STOP before you boop or swipe or enter your money card number. Is the thing you’re buying Potential Clutter?
- STOP before you enter the boundary of your home and think about what you are bringing inside.
- STOP, with love, other people from bringing Potential Clutter into your home or giving them to you. Hold your hands behind your back. Put a lock on your gate or letterbox if you have unannounced mystery gifters bringing you things they no longer want. As a last resort, take it to a charity shop as soon as possible, before it converts to clutter in your home.
Golden rule #2.
A Place For Everything.
Sometimes clutter is made up of things that we actually DO need, use and love. They just happen to be laying about in inappropriate places, getting in the way and getting on our nerves. Things need a home or they become clutter, we forget we own them because we can’t find them then we buy more, adding to the clutter.
I have a client who is a dedicated world traveller. When we organised her travel gear she ended up with 5 head torches, 12 sponge bags, a mountain of beanies and uncountable travel sized personal products. All because she couldn’t find them when she needed them.
Take the time to work out the best place for everything. It needs to be in the most sensible place for YOU and your family. If you’re an over-thinker, ANY place will do, as long as everyone knows. You can always change it later.
Golden rule #3.
Put It Back Where It Belongs.
Golden Rule #2 would be useless without Golden Rule #3.
Once you have a place for a thing, if you take it out to use it, put it back in the same spot.
If you leave the jar of Nutella on the kitchen bench, and the knife, and the bread board and the bread and the magazine you were reading and your phone and your glasses and the mail that you had under your arm and the bike helmet that was sitting on the blender in the pantry… You’ll soon have a big annoying pile of clutter that you’ll have to deal with later.
Golden Rule #4.
Use Your Things.
Wear ALL your clothes. Use the casserole dishes, the picnic sets, the fancy towels. Or reduce them down to the items that you actually DO use.
It’s ok to give up on the dream of becoming an expert chef if all your French cook books are gathering dust and taking up room that you could use for something else. Let go of the things that you know you will never get round to doing or using and free the space in your home.
This is one of the best decluttering concepts. It’s pretty straightforward. If you used it within the year, keep it. If you didn’t give it to someone who will love and use it.
Golden Rule #5.
Give your spaces a (mostly) single purpose.
- The bedroom is for sleeping and dressing. Not for storing mail, homework, electronics or overflow laundry.
- Your living room is for entertaining, watching TV, playing games, doing yoga. It is not storage for bikes, back up paper towels, an entire gym or dead computer parts.
- Your dining table is for eating, games, hobbies or homework. It is not a storage unit with no sides.
- The floor is for furniture, rugs, games and feet. It is not storage.
If something has made it’s way into a space and it does not belong – see Golden Rule #3.
Golden Rule #6.
Make It Easy.
With all the best will in the world, sometimes fancy storage is our worst enemy. What you want is for the action of putting away things to be so easy it happens automatically.
An easy to clean defined area on the floor is easier to store boots and muddy sports shoes than a pretty ventilated cabinet with doors. The shoe owners are more likely to take off their shoes in the right place if they don’t have to fiddle with things.
It’ll be easier for you to find the thing you need if you don’t have to move something else to get to it. And it’s even easier if you can grab it with one hand!
So… those are my Golden Rules. Use one, use a few or use them all. Every little bit helps us achieve a happier, more organised, stress free, clutter free home.