Interview with a Professional Organiser – frequently asked questions…

  • How common is it for people to keep hold of unused items “just in case”? What do you think causes this?

I phrase I hear commonly is: ‘I might need it’. People actually feel fearful that should they let something go, they will experience real upset if the situation arises where the item would come in handy. I encourage them to think positively rather than negatively. They could give the item away and give someone else the pleasure of using it RIGHT NOW. And if they do experience regret in the future, the flip-side is the joy of a clutter free house. A tidy space has so many benefits they won’t mind!

  • Which items do people tend to cling onto because they are worried about needing them? Any particular clothes/gadgets/kitchen items etc we always think we might need?

Fancy dress costumes! They are purchased for a very specific set of circumstances – one that is unlikely to occur again. But they are not cheap and giving them away seems frivolous. Also, kitchen gadgets such as popcorn makers, bread makers etc tend to hang around without being used. People often see the ‘fantasy version’ of themselves using these items but the reality is often that they don’t have time to use or maintain them. Oh and craft supplies….they attract magpies but they can be difficult to store and keep track of.

  • What kind of questions should you ask yourself if you’re experiencing this during a clear out?

Don’t ask yourself whether an item has a use but whether you are PLANNING on using it? Then ask yourself ‘Do I have something else which does the same job?’ or if it’s paperwork, ‘Can I get that information online should I need it?’

A brave question to ask yourself is ‘What’s the worst thing that would happen if I let this go?’ If it’s simply that you might regret it if you needed it in the future, that fleeting regret is nothing compared to the frustration of a cluttered, untidy home.

  • Are there any instances where it is sensible to keep hold of infrequently used items? What should you do with these items?

Just because an item is used infrequently, doesn’t mean it’s clutter. That’s why I don’t believe in imposing an ‘if you haven’t used it in 6 months, get rid of it’ rule.  For example, you may only wear a party outfit once in a year but it is still a valuable addition to your wardrobe. By all means, store infrequently used items (such as camping equipment) out of sight in a loft but ensure you can see what have in this space at a glance. Contain smaller items in boxes and label clearly.

  • How can you store things you do need but don’t use often (e.g. Sellotape, chargers, cameras, travel plugs etc) in a way that is tidy and organised? (For example, avoiding the ‘drawer of crap’ most of us have!!) 

Stick with the golden rule of everything having a place but also with a secondary goal of storing like with like. So keep all travel related items in a box labelled as such. It’s fine to keep a roll of Sellotape with your gift wrapping equipment and a second roll in a kitchen drawer for other uses. In fact, this will make you more likely to return these items to their homes after use, given that they are being stored where you use them. Kitchen drawers tend to a magnet for all kinds of random items so use drawer dividers to be more intentional about what you keep there.

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