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Less is more ... and it's good for you (and it's not about food!)

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

Lockdown has given a lot of people time and energy to tackle tasks they have been putting off for ages! Ring any bells? Decluttering, having a good clear out, tidying up, reorganising - call it what you will but it has been one such task and a popular lockdown activity and I bet Marie Kondo (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying) has found her books and tv show back in high demand.

In simple terms decluttering is removing, reducing or rationalising things in our immediate environment and it is believed that by doing this we are actually tackling stressors head on which is good for both our physical and mental health. That feeling of achievement, tidiness and starting afresh all contribute to the feelgood factor we get when we have removed excess clutter and reorganised what is left.

I am not sure I subscribe whole heartedly to the Marie Kondo school of decluttering …. talking to my clothes and seeing if my hairbrush sparks joy is not really my idea of how to decide what needs to go from my house (and let’s be honest would have Mr Twinkling Tiger and the children in hysterics for days!!). Maybe William Morris is more my cup of tea, he once said have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. In plain speaking I like to keep the volume of our family possessions in check whatever the approach I guess! There is no better feeling than having a good clear out every now and then (while looking for ways to recycle what we no longer need of course – watch out for another blog post on this!)

The first challenge though is to work out what and where your ‘clutter’ actually is … what one person calls clutter another calls treasure (just ask my children!!). And remember clutter may not actually be just physical ‘things’ you can see … digital space can also gather ‘clutter’, think about computer files, digital photos and of course all those emails!!

It may feel a bit daunting if you haven’t had a clear out in a while so here are my top reasons why it will be worth doing:

- The end result of decluttering reduces anxiety and stress - disorder and mess are no good for your mood. Things looking and feeling out of control can be frustrating and irritating and cause a feeling of fatigue and overwhelm. Reducing the clutter, add some order and improve your mental wellbeing (as well as making it easier to find things!).

- Having a lot of clutter around can also negatively affect eating habits – overeating, undereating and just plain old eating unhealthily can all be a reaction to the stress of having too much mess around.

- You will find it easier to focus on things that need doing without visual distractions and temptations to procrastinate. A tidy and organised environment definitely helps with concentration.

- There is some clutter that can actually impact your self esteem. Think about photos that you don’t like either because they bring back bad memories or you think they are unflattering and what about clothes that don’t fit any more but you keep telling yourself that one day you will be able to wear them again? These are essentially physical things that have negative emotions attached to them and really should go!

- And finally … decluttering can also have a positive impact on other areas of your life. Having a good clear out and feeling focused and organised may well get you motivated to do other things you have been putting off or have felt are too challenging.

How far do you go though when removing clutter? Personally I am not a fan of the uber tidy, show home look (beautiful though it is I think it feels rather clinical), I want my house to look lived in so it feels like a home and welcomes people into it. I need a balance of tidiness and order combined with things that bring personality and warmth to the space we live in (I do think however that the balance I like differs from the balance Mr Twinkling Tiger would like which can be interesting!!). So here are my top tips for getting started and hopefully striking a bit of balance:

Top 5 tips

1) You don’t have to declutter your whole life all at once, try and focus on one area or type of ‘thing’ at a time. Be prepared though, it is going to look worse before it gets better and it is not going to get done in a day!

2) Look for ways to recycle, reuse or make some cash from what you are discarding … remember your clutter may well be someone else’s treasure! Try charity shops, swish events, Facebook groups, eBay, animal rescue centres (for blankets and duvets) and of course Twinkling Tiger for any baby and children’s clothes you might have lurking in your loft!

3) Don’t buy any new furniture or storage until you have completed your decluttering – you need to know what you are left with before you decide how to store it.

4) If you are undecided or dithering about a certain item then make yourself a halfway step, a place where you can put relegated items without actually getting rid of them (ideally this is not in your house so they really are on the way out!). If you suddenly find you are missing something or genuinely need it you can then ‘restore’ it but equally if you haven’t noticed it being gone after a few months then you can safely decide to remove it permanently!

5) When it comes to memorabilia or sentimental items think about different ways to store them and share them especially if they are stashed away in the back of a cupboard or a box in the loft. For example turning clothes that may be sentimental into a teddy bear or blanket, or using an app like Arktive to store children’s artwork.

Good luck and please do share any top tips and ideas!

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