Top organisation tips for clearing out your home during lockdown
15th April 2020
There is no right or wrong way to deal with a pandemic, as long as you are following the guidelines. Don’t worry if you feel like everyone is learning a new language yet you’re sat at home with a family sized tub of ice cream [recycle that pot girl], or you're having the most creative positive time of your life, its all absolutely fine... But one thing is for certain, we are spending a hell of a lot more time inside these walls we call home than perhaps ever before, even for me, someone who probably only leaves the land once or twice per week in normal life, I've spent 99% of my time in this cabin, the rest within a mile!
I don’t know about you, even though I do spend the occasional day under a dark blanket or in the garden pretending I’m in the South of France, a lot of my energy is going into taking stock of what’s around me. I love to clear out, and now I have curbed my shopping addiction, we are finally starting to get to a place where we have less stuff than ever before, yet still, I have way more stuff that I know what to do with…
So here are my top tips, and things ill be doing to create some space over the next few weeks:
I cannot stress this enough, stop looking at the house, or even room, as one big picture. Asses your mood each day and start with the smallest area you think you can deal with, you can always keep going once this section is finished. It might just be a draw, a shelf, one bit of your desk. I find it helpful to list all the areas I want to clear out over the next 12 months in small sections, literally draw by draw then I get to tick them all off as I go.
Define your style and core values
While I never want you to throw something away and replace it for something new unless its broken, especially if the item isn’t sellable, recyclable or really has anything wrong with it, it is important you look at defining your look before you get started. Start with your core values using this exercise, then look at your style, I do this through Pinterest and always lean towards the natural minimal vibes along with ditsy florals on whites. Some people will lean towards dark minimalist vibes or bright maximalism vibes for example, whatever works for you own it and have that view in mind as you clear out your items.
Set some boundaries
If you live alone or your’re only sorting your things this one is easy, just ask yourself two questions to start with
Is it useful?
Is it beautiful?
If the answer to both of these is no, put it on a pile to one side, we will come back to it later. If the answer is yes, put it in the keep pile.
If you live with someone, the items are joint or you’re helping them you need to get those boundaries going… initially you have to remember that someone might have an emotional attachment to something you will never understand, it will be exactly the same for you, so you need to remember, above anything, to be kind to one another. The other person might also not be phased by having lots of things around them, each person is different. Have a conversation about what you both want to get out of the exercise, if the other person is point blank refusing to help, just sort their items into one pile and kindly discuss the option of perhaps keeping it all in one place or one draw, perhaps even leaving that draw for them and moving your items somewhere else.
Once your both on the same page, it’s the same process as everyone else, is it useful or is it beautiful…
Have a plan for the items you no longer want
Currently these items are not going to be able to taken to the charity shop and probably not even able to be sold online with everyone a little more wary about handing items from other people. I’d recommend splitting the items into 4 piles, in our house we have a plastic storage box for each of the following piles: Take to charity shop (it’s important you look at what each charity shop does and doesn’t accept); sell online; take to be recycled; see if we can live without.
Each year we go back into the see if we can live without box, normally we haven’t needed to take anything out of this box and it gets distributed into the other three boxes, we normally only sell a few things online with most of the items going to charity as we’d rather them have the money and it saves us time and effort.
Take photos of sentimental items
Deep down in my soul I am hoarder, not because I like the things but because I am worried about loosing some of the memories attached to items, its actually why I’m a photographer, I love things to be documented. Around 5 years ago I had boxes and boxes and boxes of items from my childhood (although right now I seem to have another 4 in my office which have worked their way back into my life after being stored by my parents for years), full of emotional memories but absolutely no other desire to keep or ever use again, so I began taking photos of these items and allowing them to leave my life to have another life elsewhere, have you seen Toy Story 3 and 4, this pretty much sums up the feeling. I’d highly recommend you doing the same, occasionally I’ll see an photo of one of these items a few years later and all those memories will come flooding back, but I now don’t need to create space in my life, or pay the extra space, for them to live with me forever.
Don’t be too ruthless
The first time I started clearing out, or at moments when I am like GET RID OF EVERYTHING, I have to press pause, that’s where the see-if-I-can-live-without box comes into play, sometimes I do go a little crazy and you’ll see me digging back into that box thinking I wondered where this has been or I’ve been looking for that! Remember you don’t want to throw things away that will then need replacing in the next 12-18 months, this is pointless and creating a never ending cycle or consumerism. You also don’t need to get rid of everything, if you absolutely adore books, keep your books, nobody is going to judge you for having books, but if you like reading but will never pick it up again, perhaps there are other options such as book swaps or a kindle?
Everything needs a home
This is a little later down the line but as you clear out, you are left with the items you really want in your life. It’s very important that each and every item that lives or comes into your home, has its own space to live. Put them back into drawers, on shelves, in cabinets with purpose…
Let me know if you have any clearing out tips or if you’d like me to keep talking about this subject.
All the love
It's so nice to meet you... We are so glad you've found our slow & seasonal lifestyle journal, grab yourself a cup of tea, perhaps a homemade biscuit or slice of cake from a local shop and lets dive in.
We are Mike & Emma, husband & wife, homebodys, although not ones to shy away from adventure, we created Vincent Living with a passion for traditional methods, beauty in imperfection and our planet.
We live by the sea in South Devon and find ourselves listening to the waves after long days creating, we love nothing more than a cosy night in with our little Cyprus rescue dog Lola.