The Urge to Purge: 10 ways to lose clutter this Lent

Anna Mooney.

Lent brings the urge to purge - and where better to start than our overstuffed homes, overstocked kitchens and overshopped wardrobes? Decluttering expert Eve Rowan has ten great tips to get you started.

Tidiness guru Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying has sold 6 million books in 40 languages and earned her a place on Time Magazine’s  100 Most Inflentical People 2016 list. And not just because she’s brought the world a new way to fold T-shirts. Kon-Marie has tapped right into our realisation that our stuff doesn’t make us happy, that it leaches time and energy, takes up head space as well as physical space, and traps memory and emotion. 

If Ms Kondo’s tidying approach is a bit hard core for Irish tastes, and a little too idealistic for those of us with busy families, try Dublin based Decluttering expert Eve Rowan’s tips below -  pragmatic, down to earth and utimately, do-able.

Clutter is anything which does not match our life and the way we live it. It can be anything, from your mother’s table linen to a lump of nutmeg.

Clutter is:

We allow a lot more things in to our homes than we ever boot out. Our homes become fuller. We look at it/fall over it/feel responsible for it. This affects our energy.

Decluttering is not rocket science. But it does take time, determination and a lot of decisions. Lent is a really nice time to declutter - it evokes simplicity and a break from material pleasures.

Here are some pointers for a Lenten declutter.

1. Make your bed.

Always a good activity!.  Your first win of the day, it will be a base for sorting your wardrobe.  If your bed is already made, fluff your pillows!. You're ready.

2. Take 'before' pics

You will marvel at these in time.

3. Loosely group things together - aim to sort by category not by room

Sort by category, as Marie Kondo suggests, not by room. You'll be surprised at how much you have of one thing. Gather scarves from the car, drawers and coat hooks. Take shoes from every room, gym bag. Clothes from the laundry, ironing baskets and swimming bags should be on the sorting pile too. Throw them on your bed and start a charity shop bag. If you have another property or storage space, keep those contents in mind. Ideally get all your stuff together at one time and let go.

4. Break it down to avoid overwhelm

Even after a major decluttering day, it's not over. Clutter continues to challenge, and dealing with it can be overwhelming. Break it down.  Do a shelf or a drawer every day.

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5. Time yourself

You will get heaps done in 15 minutes for example. There can be a temptation to blitz decluttering. However it is tiring and you have to keep a decluttering/life balance.

6. Cross the threshold

Clutter is not gone until it belongs to someone else. Some of your decluttering time should be spent getting stuff off the property. Travel to the dry cleaners and the recycling centre, return other people’s stuff, bring back library books, make a trip to the charity shop.

7. The wardrobe

Look at each item. Have you worn it in the last month? If not, you should very strongly consider getting rid of it. (Unless it’s off-season). Our wardrobes should have quality everyday threads. There is something depressing about occasion wear that is not worn. Also, consider throwing out your house uniform. If it is only fit for the house, it will keep you indoors.

 8. Paperwork

Paper is either active, archive or recycling. Lump all your paperwork in a pile and sort it accordingly.

You should touch a piece of paper only once.

9. Take 'After' pics

Revisit the areas of your home you have worked on and take “after” pics. Play spot the difference.

10. Live the dream

Decluttering is not so much an activity, but a lifestyle. It is bigger than one person. It asks, ‘What is the most economical way of getting something done?’ As your house gets more clutter free, you figure out ways to maintain space. Think simple, think less. Refuse receipts. Make items do double-duty. Walk in your tennis shoes. Leave beer-making or sewing to the professionals. Will you buy an Easter egg or a slab of chocolate?

It’s too cold to diet. Give up clutter instead this Lent.


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