At this time of year I always put some time aside to declutter my home, it is difficult to always file paperwork away in an organised manner and I am also a bit of a hoarder so this makes me think about what I actually do need to keep. I like to call it life laundry as it not only clears space in my home (no doubt to be replaced with other clutter very shortly) but also makes me feel better, more in control!
So, where should you start if you feel like doing some life laundry, here are my top 10 tasks:
1) Bedroom wardrobes
I don’t know about you but I seem to have a number of wardrobes with lots of clothes in them but never have anything to wear mainly because I no longer like them, haven’t wore them for 6 months or more or even worse they no longer fit! But for some strange reason I hold onto them thinking ‘you never know…they may come back into fashion! Or I may loose those few pounds I have gained’! Well if the later was the case I am sure I would use this as an excuse to buy new clothes!
When cleaning out my wardrobes I empty all of the contents onto the bed work and make two piles a ‘keep’ one and a ‘throw away’ one. It is difficult to throw that comfy cardigan or pair of trousers away, but if they haven’t seen sunlight for the last 12 months I think it is time to say goodbye! I then bag up the throw away pile and take it to the charity shop – another feel good factor! The keep pile gets neatly organised back into the wardrobes.
The end result is that you have a wardrobe that has more space, hence your clothes don’t get so creased, (another problem with an overcrowded wardrobe) and you have made space for new clothes!
2) Bedroom chest of drawers
The next task in the bedroom is the chest of drawers, why is that we all end up with odd socks and once again we keep them thinking the other one will miraculously re-appear and never does! Firstly, the odd socks have to go and then I work my way through and throw away any that have holes in, look a little too worn or just seem to have lost their shape. I carry out the same decluttering with tights and underwear. I always find these drawers get messy and unorganised very quickly, so I have found some great storage compartments from IKEA They at least help organise the chaos!
3) Bed side tables
Bed side tables, another place to store all sorts of things, mine consists of books both read and unread, receipts that I am not sure I should keep or throw away…just in case! I find it easier to remove everything from the drawer and as with the wardrobe decluttering, make a pile of things to keep and a pile to throw away or take to the charity shop. With receipts, again it is difficult to know what to keep or throw just in case you need them, but if you have had clothes or shoes for a few months and they haven’t fallen apart it is probably ok to throw them away (see my tips below for how to dispose of receipts, bank statements etc). If they are for purchases that are more valuable e.g. hairdryer/straightners and they have a 12 month or longer guarantee period then I would file them away in a paperwork organiser. This way you know where to look should you need them!
I am not very organised and don’t file away paperwork as I receive it, so end up with a pile sitting on a dining table chair and growing on a weekly basis! So if like me you have got to the point that you need to file it or throw it away then here are some pointers.
Firstly, get yourself a storage file, I have found a great one. This is a ‘Really Useful’ storage box with files so you can file away your paperwork; but there are lots of other options available.
Then just work through your pile and file away what you need to keep. I have been trying to find out a definitive answer on how long you need to keep bank statements/credit card bills and there isn’t a legal guideline but bear in mind if you are looking at moving house or are applying for a new mortgage you will need to provide 3-6 months of bank statements. Bear in mind if you do need to get copies from the bank there will be a charge for them which can end up being costly. Also, if you submit self assessment tax returns then you will need to keep 6 years worth of records – all of these can add up to quite of storage space!
If you are throwing away bank or credit card statements buy a shredder, cross cut shredders are the best and make sure you shred anything with personal information on before throwing them in the bin!
5) Under stairs cupboards
This is what my Nan calls the ‘Bogie Hole’ and has all sorts stored in it coats, scarves, shoes, umbrellas, the ironing board and vacuum! It is a great place to store those items which can clutter any home, but this means that it soon becomes messy and full of all kinds of stuff that should be thrown away. Spending time clearing this cupboard out will give you back some storage space.
I love reading but this means I end up with lots of books that are just taking up space in my bed side table or in a cupboard collecting dust! So apart from giving some away to friends I have started to give them to charity – a feel good factor!
7) Bathroom cabinets
My bathroom cabinet gets messy with the array of products – body lotions, face creams and all kinds of other lotions and potions but it also get’s a little dusty. If like me you never seem to use all of the lotions and potions, because you have favourites but keep them as a ‘just in case’ putting 20 minutes aside to clean this out will be time worth spent. Be realistic about what you actually need and what you will use and give it a wipe clean. You won’t then have to try and catch bottles that fall out of the cabinet when you are running late and you’re looking for your puffy eye cream to disguise a late night; it’s these sorts of little things make life easier!
8) Utensil drawer
We all have one, that horrible drawer in the kitchen where all the utensils get stored – vegetable peelers, potato mashers and whisks. It never seems to be tidy and I always end up fighting with the spatula to fit the serving spoon in. So if like me you have had enough of this battle then take control and clean it out, I have two of everything so am sure that throwing the older one away will create so much more space and make putting away the washing up a breeze.
9) Spare room
This is the room that really frustrates me; it always seems full of clutter and never looks tidy. I have two ironing baskets – which alone take up too much floor space and wicker storage baskets all filled with even more stuff that I don’t really need. I never have any reason to go into them which suggests these should be thrown away or stored in the loft or garage…but living in an apartment I don’t have this luxury!
So an hour or so spent going through the ironing basket (or in my case baskets) and throwing away items that you will never wear for a whole variety of reasons will not only create space but also reduce the amount of ironing you need to do – great. Then decluttering the wicker baskets will give me back some storage space or enable me to throw them away.
My CD collection dates back about 10 years and having run out of space in the living room for them they are now in the spare room. I never ever listen to them and am sure I never will, so are they worth keeping I ask? I am sure some are but as I haven’t looked at what I have in years who knows. Firstly, I am going to start by looking at what I have and if I still like the artist, if not they are going in the bin! For those that are going to stay part of my much loved collection I am going to buy a bigger storage solution for the living room to encourage me to listen to them.
With DVDs I tend to watch them when I buy them and never again, obviously we all have our all time greats – Dirty Dancing, Grease and Top Gun so they are definite keeps but for the rest either give them to friends and family or take them to the charity shop and let someone else have a few hours whisked away in another world.