Finding A Professional Organiser Or Declutterer

Someone asked me the other day, via the amazing world of social media, how do they find a declutterer near them? 

They were down south and I’m in Sheffield, not very practical for me to travel down there to help them with their decluttering. 

There are a couple of ways you can do this, the first is using any search engine, pop in declutterer and wherever your location is, and that can bring you up some results. 

But there is another way, and this way is a better way because there is an association. So it’s the association of professional declutterers and organisers. 

On their website (www.APDO.co.uk) there is a find an organiser search function. There you can find somebody who is near you, you can also search for specialisms, so example if they work with people with hoarding behaviours or dementia or their Marie Kondo trained, all sorts of different searches that you can do on that site. 

But what APDO do as an organisation is they actually verify members. 

I am a member of APDO and I have to go through a process to make sure that I’ve got the correct insurance documents in place, I’ve got to make sure that I am ICO registered for the for the data side of my business, and that I’m not just you know treating things badly. 

I also have to make sure that I approve any training to be registered with them, so I have to give them evidence of it – so it’s a verification process which gives you an extra level of security. 

There may be people out there calling themselves professional organisers, who are just not up to par, it’s not for me to say that that’s definitely the case. But because of the verification that we go through becoming APDO member it means that you’ve got an extra level of security, an extra level of peace of mind that the people on there have actually gone through some checking procedures. 

We’re also a great community and and looking forward to the conference that I’m going to soon, because we all help each other out. What we do is if somebody doesn’t know something, we’ll pop a question into our private group and we’ll say “Anybody know how I should deal with this?” “Or where we can get rid of this?” It gives us access to a whole world of information that we wouldn’t have just being on our own. And that can be really really valuable for the clients too. 

So please use the function on the APDO site so www.APDO.co.uk and find an organiser local to you, and hopefully they’ll be able to help you.

Decluttering To Downsize

I had a call from a lady the other day who was asking me about how to declutter for downsizing. They were moving from the three-bedroom family home that they’d been in for many many years, down to a one bedroom bungalow and were a little bit daunted by the task. 

It’s not easy.

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy, because over the years these things have built up over quite a lot of time, we collect, we gather, we just keep bringing stuff into our homes. 

One of the first things to look at really is have you got things that belong to someone else? 

A lot of people, especially if they’ve had children, will have things for them and maybe hang on to them, and when they initially move out of home, the garage gets full, the loft gets full, with all their kind of belongings. And that’s stuff that you don’t need to keep. It’s not yours so getting those items back to the people that they belong to can be a really good start in getting rid of some of the excess. 

Another key is to actually look through the things that you’ve got. 

A lot of the time we fill up cupboards and there’s stuff in there and we don’t really revisit, because they’re happy, nothing’s a problem, we might not have that much stuff, but the things that have been in the cupboards are not causing any issues. 

This is all stuff that needs tackling at this time. 

The reality is you’ve got to reduce the volume quite a lot. So some of those things are going to have to go. Which is not always an easy decision to make, because there tends to be lots of memories tied up with these items. But if you can really focus on what somebody else is gaining, getting it to charity, getting it to local places that you really connect with then the loss will not be as big – it will be easier to part with those items. 

It is all about reducing down the volume. 

So whereas before you may have had four wardrobes, because you use the wardrobes in another room, where you’re moving to may only have one. Therefore there’s got to be a reduction in volume. 

With any of this it’s getting out everything in one go, try and do it by category, so you get out a whole category of items.

For example, coats, look at them and sort them into;

Which ones do I really love? 

Which ones are okay? 

Which ones do I kind of not really wear because they don’t really fit me very well? 

Seeing the overall picture of stuff is really key in this. So try and really sort by category. 

Another thing I would say is do try and get help.

Doing it on your own can be really difficult. Especially if it’s been that way for so many years, it’s what you’re used to and thinking about things in a different way can be tricky. 

Good luck with your downsizing and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Can You Over Declutter?

A question I was asked recently was;

Can you over declutter? 

Go too far with it? 

It’s definite yes in my opinion, in the same way that clutter can gather and we have too much stuff, I think people can also swing the other way and try and get rid of too much stuff as well. 

For me they’re both extremes and it’s about trying to find some sort of middle ground. 

The thing to remember is it’s very personal, so it’s up to you. 

What do you want? 

What do you need? 

It’s up to you to make those decisions. 

The difficulty comes where those decisions become “yes I’m keeping everything” or “yes I’m getting rid of everything” in exactly the same way. 

This is often experienced in the first stages of grief, so the first stage of denial. 

Sometimes people can throw out lots of things that actually they might regret later on, and they just go a bit far with it. 

Sometimes you need time, you need time to actually really establish what you need and what you don’t need, or what you want and what you don’t want. 

I’m not a minimalist at all, my house is very autobiographical. There’s lots of pictures and things that I’ve picked up from my travels around the world, and I have quite a lot of books and I’ve got CDs. 

I’ve just got rid of about 2/3 of my CDs but I’ve still got quite a lot of them, because for me I can’t remember which things I like on some of the digital streaming things all the time. So to get a CD out sometimes and just whack it on, I really quite enjoy. 

So I’m not a minimalist at all, and there are many people who live with very very little, you know and they’re absolutely happy with that. 

I continually review what I’ve got, I think that’s the key for me. 

Over the years I’ve started with a huge amount of stuff and that over time has come down. 

And often when I’m working with people we might have a definitely keep, a definitely throw away and then a maybe heap. And that maybe heap we will come back to later on, we’ll revisit it later on. Just so that we’re not throwing out things that people actually might decide that they want and want to keep. 

It’s a very very personal journey. 

It’s up to you but this is where it helps having somebody else to do it with you because they can ask you the questions, they can get you to maybe see what you’re not seeing about whether you should keep it or not. And whether you should get rid of it or not, sometimes I have to pull people back from the things they’re getting rid of and say hang on you might want that, maybe let’s pop it in a box and then we’ll revisit it later on. So very personal. 

Can you over declutter? 

Yes. 

Can you under declutter? 

Yes. 

Good luck with whatever you’re decluttering, and bear in mind the extremes of both ends of the scale. 

How To Organise Your Workspace

I wanted to share with you some tips about how to organise your workspace. 

Whether that be your home office where you just do a bit of paperwork at home or you work from home, or whether that be the office where you work with other people. 

Having your workspace organised and decluttered can have a huge impact on productivity. 

I know when my desk is cluttered, it’s usually because there’s too much going on in my head and I’m getting a bit disorganised, and it’s all getting a bit on top of me. 

Clearing off my desk is one of the best things I can do to start the day. 

I just wanted to share with you a little bit about my workspace and what I have. 

One of the first things that I suggest is having your desk as clear as you possibly can. So not having lots of stuff all over the place, and keeping it nice and clear. 

That’s the first tip really, a clear desktop it’s absolutely vital. 

One of the things that helps with that, is actually putting things into drawers, putting them away and having that all organised. Not just your pens and your stapler and your post-its and things like that. But also I tend to file a lot of my work in progress. So that goes into a drawer, out of the way, so that it’s not all on my desk. 

A lot of people I know have heaps and heaps of stuff on the desk which they’re working on and actually putting it away just means that as long as you’ve got a system for remembering what you’ve got to do with it, then that’s great. But putting it away clears off that space in front of you. 

Another great tip is to store things vertically not horizontally. On my desk I’ve got two filing little boxes where I store my paperwork vertically. 

Now the problem with storing anything horizontally is that it all piles up on top of each other and you end up with a heap. What usually happens is the stuff at the top gets done but the stuff at the bottom gets left. 

So if you can store things vertically then that really really helps. 

Another tip is to have inspirational quotes and also plants, because these things are lovely, and I can see out the window there, it’s a bit wet. But I’ve got a picture with some friends from a wedding, I’ve got some great quotes, and and they just inspire me. 

I’ve also got a couple of things propped up that I need to remember. So high quality questions and what they are when I want to call somebody. Stuff that I need to bear in mind, that’s in front of me too which is a good reminder. 

I have a second screen which is a great idea because it just means that I can work not just on one little laptop screen, I’ve got a lot of space to work electronically as well as physically. And that has been a great addition to my workspace.

I think that is about it, there’s plenty more tips, so just some ideas to try and help you, and I hope some of them are useful.

Declutter Challenge

I’ve got a bit of a declutter challenge for you. 

This is something I’ve been doing for the last month with a friend of mine. And she suggested it. It was brought to our attention by the minimalists on Twitter, so I’m not taking credit for this one at all! 

I’ve heard about it before but I’ve never done it myself, and I have now, and I want to share with you what it’s about. 

Basically it’s a month-long challenge. 

On the first day of the month, you get rid of one thing. 

On the second day of the month you get rid of two things. 

Third day three things.

Fourth day four things, 

and on you go…

Until you get to the end of a month where you’ve got to get rid of quite a lot of things in a day! 

It’s been brilliant. But it’s also been a real challenge. 

At the beginning of the month it was fine, I was thinking “oh this is easy, this is no problem whatsoever.” 

Now I’m on day 28 and it’s like “Ah okay I’ve got to find all these items” 

But actually it’s not really been a problem, it’s helped me realise that a lot of the stuff in my home I don’t use. I’m noticing more of the things I don’t use and that’s just sitting there. 

One of the biggest areas I tackled was books, and a lot of people have problems with books. When I read a book, I then keep it. I might loan it out to people, but I tend to keep it. 

I looked at all these books that I’d got, and I thought about the ones that were there and I thought “well they’re brilliant, they’re fantastic.” But I couldn’t even remember what it was about. 

The reality for me is that I needed that book at that point in my life. 

And now I’ve read it, it has served its purpose and wouldn’t it be so much better if it went to somebody else now? 

I’m off to a networking event this evening and I’m taking all my books for a book exchange swap, library type thing. So passing it on to other people who need it more than I do. 

But I also realised how much I was holding on to stuff, and a lot of stuff from my past as well. A lot of stuff from childhood. A lot of stuff from when I’ve been on trips to places, and things like that, that I had collected. 

A lot of it was just in boxes, I didn’t use it. 

It was just trying to hold onto those memories.

I’ve let go of a lot of it and just decided to move on a little bit. 

There are some loose rules around it; 

The idea is that you get it out of your house by midnight that night. (Now I haven’t completely adhered to that because I’ve been saving things up to go to the charity shop, and go to the right places.) 

But it is important that you are not taking it back out of the bag again. 

So making sure that you’ve made that decision on that day, so that you’ve consistently got some change going on and that you’re doing it everyday. 

Also not counting things like rubbish. So just throwing some things away, it doesn’t really count. Mouldy vegetables isn’t going to cut it. 

It is about items that you’ve been hanging on to a little bit and about shifting those. 

So make up the rules yourself. 

I think one of the key things for me was doing it with somebody else and having that accountability. So me and my friend doing it together was just brilliant because we could support each other, we could talk to each other about how we felt, and we weren’t on our own doing it. 

Some days we would have both have given up, if we didn’t have to post that picture to each other on WhatsApp going “I’ve done it” So that was huge as well. 

So why not try it? 

Try the declutter challenge, see how you get on.