I feel my progression to a professional organiser or de-clutterer has come very naturally to me after having spent a number of years working in project management and administration.
Professional organising really suits my character as I would describe some of my key characteristics as practical, systematic, logical and thorough. I enjoy working individually with people to support and facilitate this incredibly positive process. It is a real pleasure to play a part in helping someone achieve their identified goal.
People seem to assume that the ability to tidy is innate, or that we should automatically become organised because we have things that need organising, but why should a tiding ability be any more natural than the ability to cook or to draw?
Fortunately, becoming organised and de-cluttering is a skill and a habit that can be acquired. My role is to provide help with the both the practicalities and emotions that arise when de-cluttering and letting go.
As a youngster, I often asked to tidy but other than putting toys in a box and books on a shelf I wasn’t really taught to tidy. I’m not sure that we are taught how to tidy when we are young. By the time we have progressed to home ownership, filled them with our belongings and maybe had children our homes are expected to be multi-functional. Our home have many roles, a place to socialise, rest, work, play and we want to be able to do all these things, store everything we need to do them and have a tidy house too!
A little bit of history…
The first time I remember when tidying didn’t work was voluntarily tidying my mother’s front room when she was out. My mum was what I would now describe as a ‘piler’. Piles of stuff were stacked on top of bookcases, kitchen surfaces and in cupboards where the contents would fall out onto your lap or crash to the floor when the door was opened. The items that my mum kept in the living room were very disparate - they weren’t connected -so didn’t fall together as a collection as you wouldn’t associate them together. The only way to tidy would be to tidy the piles together, making them even higher. I now see that what was lacking was organisation and storage because things didn’t have a place to be tidied to.
Once I had left home I didn’t think too much about tidying or de-cluttering until August 1997 when I moved to a bigger house to accommodate my growing family. I was eight months pregnant at the time with a two year old toddler so decided to employ a removal firm to pack our things and move them to the new house. It was a conversation with the gentleman that came to pack the day before the move that really kick started my interest in stuff, clutter, storage and organisation. His comment to me was as follows:
‘I don’t know how many of my customers have employed me to spend time packing and moving a large collection of spare plastic bags.’ (This was well before the 5p charge for plastic bags)
(I subsequently counted the total number of bags I’d accumulated – there were at least 200 bags, stored 30-40 at a time in other plastic bags)
I hadn’t realised that I had collected so many bags, they were all shoved into a cupboard under the stairs alongside a number of other items and although some of them were useful for rubbish, emergency nappy sacks, etc. It made me think that if I wasn’t prepared to pay someone to pack and move an item why would I have it all? Thinking about the situation rationally I certainly wasn’t prepared to pay money to take care of a plastic bag collection.
I have subsequently practised and honed my skills over a number of years with my own household clutter. My partner's job has required us to relocate several times (probably 10 in all) over the last 15 years or so. Generally , e have relocated ourselves and so as the organised person of the house the packing has fallen to me. However, regularly re-packing the whole household into boxes, packing them into a small lorry and then unloading and unpacking at the other end has made me really consider whether I really needed and wanted the items I had and the way I live with them. I really did have too much clutter, when I first moved in August 1997 I would have had at least 35 odd boxes of books. These days I have at most 6 or 7 boxes worth of books.
I have also learnt to adapt my way of living to each new house or flat. I have needed to adapt my furniture, belongings and way of living to each new physical environment every time we moved. Once again, this has given me a lot of opportunity to practice re-organising.
Some personal thoughts….
… Generally, I believe in using the stuff you have, routinely, rather than saving it for a special occasion, (as the occasion often doesn’t come) and the item becomes dated, irrelevant or unusable over a period of time. I try to use the things I have and then replace or update when necessary.
… I have been fortunate enough to spend time working in a local Charity Shop and have seen the real benefits that donating can have. Both to individual shoppers who may be new mums buying toys or clothes for their little ones, or a present for the teacher at the end of the school year, or a young lad needing a smart pair of shoes and a suit for his first job interview. Charity shop donations not only provide a service to those who are frugal or into retro and vintage but also to those people who have no alternative, who like and need things too.
… Even if an item can’t be sold directly to the public most Charity organisations will be paid on a weight basis for textiles, bags and shoes by a collection company.
… Just because something is a gift, perhaps involving an emotional attachment, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it. It could be having a better use giving happiness to someone else.
… Very little needs to be permanently thrown away these days, as well as recycling to charity shops, all local amenities have recycling facilities for wood, paper/card, textiles, rubble, batteries, TV/electrical equipment. Check for local companies that may be around that may pay you for your waste items, such as textiles.