If the thought of more stuff arriving in your house in the next few weeks fills you with horror, here’s how to do a power declutter. It’s all about speed and big wins, so don’t let anything take you more than 20 minutes. Keep it short, keep really focused, and don’t try to be a perfectionist.
Go for the big wins
Prioritise the things that are going to cause the biggest practical problems, or the greatest stress. Stress might be tripping over lego in the hall, or a full bust-up with your partner over where the corkscrew is. Everyone is different, but decide what the crunch points are likely to be for you and your family.
Do you have enough space for visitor’s coats and shoes, or will everyone be tripping over things until tempers are as frayed as the scarf caught under the radiator? Move away excess things now.
It’s all about the fridge. If it’s full, clear out anything old or that you’re not going to use between now and Christmas. Cleaning it can wait – the only thing you’re creating is space.
If you’ve got cooking things you use only for Christmas, have a quick look now to ensure they’re clean and ready for use.
Check you’ve got enough dishes and cutlery now, especially if you’re planning a party. If you’re short, there’s still time to order them, either real or disposable.
Have the kids got space for new stuff, especially big presents? Encourage them to find good quality toys for disadvantaged children – it’s not too late to donate them – or clear out things they no longer play with. Give them a large bag and ask them to fill it with things they no longer want.
Do you have enough bedding and towels, and are the beds clear? If your guest room has become a bit of a dumping ground, don’t worry, and certainly don’t try to sort it out now. Try to make the window area clear, cover boxes with a beautiful throw or bedspread, make sure there’s a clear chair and somewhere to hang clothes. Then simply make a note to put some fresh flowers or a plant in there for when your guests arrive (add them to your supermarket shopping list now).
Now isn’t the time to think about new curtains or changing the sofa. You probably live in there for much of the year, so don’t try to make any big changes. But if you’ve got just too much stuff, give yourself 20 minutes and three bags. Do a supermarket-sweep type clear out of everything that’s no longer used or important, or that belongs somewhere else. That’s one bag for recycling via a charity shop, one for disposal, and one for things that belong elsewhere in the house. Speed is the important thing, though – don’t get into the detail of going through your DVD collection or you’ll still be there when Santa appears down the chimney.
Do a power-search
List the things you’re going to need over the coming few weeks but which you know you sometimes have to search for. Then go through the house looking for them all. When you find them, put them in a place you know you’ll be able to find them again. That might be batteries, sticky tape, jiffy bags, wrapping paper, gift labels, a small screwdriver (for changing batteries in small toys, for instance), spare bedding, candles, table decorations. If you’re really concerned you won’t remember, or need other people to find them, a post-it note on the inside of a cupboard door is foolproof.
We love helping people create space in their homes and their lives. If you’d like some help to declutter, plan or reorganise, or if your to-do list is simply out of control, contact us now. ‘It’s like instant weight loss!’ an ecstatic client told us recently. And we can still work miracles in time for Christmas.