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When and how to declutter your home

18th November 2022


The things we own are not simply possessions, but memories. They may remind you of the person who gifted them to you, a holiday on which they were bought as a souvenir, or the time and passion put into collecting them. However, there comes a time when our possessions might overwhelm us, making our lives feel cluttered and busy.

It can be hard to know when and how to declutter, and it can be even harder to go through the decluttering process. For those who are considering decluttering, or are looking for advice on the process, this article is filled with advice on how to know when it’s time to start and decluttering tips for doing so safely.

The signs that you need to declutter

Knowing when you need to declutter is the first step of the process, but it can be hard to know when you’ve got to that point. If you are unsure as to whether it’s the right for you or broach the subject with a relative, read on to discover some of the signs that you need to declutter.

  • You feel stressed and fidgety in your home
  • You are strained whilst cleaning your home
  • You feel uncomfortable moving around your home
  • Your lifestyle has changed in a big way
  • The living arrangements within your home have changed

You feel stressed and fidgety in your home

You might find that you are feeling stressed and fidgety within your home and not even know why, but a large contributing factor could be the clutter within your home. A busy home can cause a busy mind, and you might not be able to settle your thoughts if your home is overwhelmed with things. Our living space is somewhere that we should be able to unwind and relax, and when there are a vast number of things around us this can be hard and cause us to be overstimulated. If this sounds familiar to you, it might be time to declutter and organise.

Chrissy, from the home organisation blog Organise My House, elaborated on this point when we spoke to her: “Decluttering is needed when the "stuff" around you starts to have a negative impact on your life. You may feel overwhelmed by it, annoyed by it, or just a little irritated - but it won't do you any good to stay in that state - so decluttering is the answer.”

You are strained whilst cleaning your home

Cleaning our homes is not a task that you need to love, but it’s also not a task that you should find overly difficult and hard to manage. If you are finding that cleaning your home causes you stress and is physically hard to do, then it might be that there are too many things within your home to navigate around. Whether it’s finding that you can never properly dust your space, or feeling as though cleaning is a mammoth task, it might be time to declutter and reorganise your space to make this easier.

You feel uncomfortable moving around your home

Another clear sign that you need to declutter your home is feeling unsafe or uncomfortable whilst moving around the home. Especially for those who rely on mobility aids to get around the home like stairlifts and homelifts, being able to navigate with ease is essential and if the floor space is dominated by things it is both tricky and dangerous. A home which is overwhelmed by objects can be one with myriad trip hazards in them and things that are prone to falling when disturbed.

LEARN MORE: Making a home safe for older residents

Your lifestyle has changed in a big way

Sometimes, decluttering might simply be something that’s done after a big lifestyle change to help you transition. Whether you are retiring and suddenly no longer need to work at home or are taking up a new hobby and need space within your home to do it, if there has been a major change in your lifestyle decluttering can help to accommodate it. 

The living arrangements within your home have changed

Just as when your lifestyle changes, your living arrangements might change, and this can signal time for a declutter. It’s especially the case in later life that children might fly the nest, or children who have flown the nest might purchase their first home, and it’s a good time to separate their belongings from yours to free up your space. You might also be moving home, and especially in the case of downsizing, find that this is the perfect time to reduce the number of things you own.

LEARN MORE: What to consider as a last-time buyer?

Tips for safely decluttering your home

So, you’ve decided it’s time to declutter but want to ensure that you do so both safely and efficiently. After all, decluttering your home should make your life easier and if it’s a hard and unforgiving task, that won’t be the case.

  • Think ‘safety first’
  • Consider digital
  • Don’t do it alone
  • Break it up into sections
  • Call in the professionals

Think ‘safety first’

Make sure, whilst you are in the process of decluttering, you think safety first. It can be easy to get boxed into corners or overwhelm your floors during this task and so it’s essential to ensure that doesn’t happen so that you’re able to move freely. You should also ensure that you aren’t placing things behind doors in case you need to leave the home quickly or someone needs to come through the door.

Consider digitalising your life

Digitalising your life can be a great way to keep hold of precious memories whilst not having to take up the same amount of room. Almost everything that is paper-based can be digitalised in some form. If you have a wealth of books, you could instead opt for a digital reader like a Kindle. If you have a lot of magazines or newspapers, you could subscribe to them digitally instead and keep up to date on a tablet or computer. And, for old photographers, you can scan them so that you can access them digitally. This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of all your photographs, but it does mean they can be stored away, and you’ll still be able to view them whenever you want.

LEARN MORE: The beginner's guide to digitalising your life

Don’t do it alone

Decluttering can be a difficult and emotional task and it’s one best done with a friend or a loved one’s assistance. This way, you can not only get through the task quicker, but you can have a second opinion on occasions where you aren’t sure. Having someone else to give you their opinion means that they can tell you if they think you are holding onto too much, but they can also help you know what needs to be kept to hand and what can be kept but stored away.

Break it up into sections

It can be overwhelming if you want to declutter your whole home, not knowing where to start or what to prioritise. This is why it can be useful to break it up into sections. This might be breaking it up room-by-room or even area-by-area, for example, focusing on your desk or bookshelf. Not only can this keep your attention in one small area so that it doesn’t wander, but it also makes the task feel a lot more manageable.

This is a tip from Jo Cooke, the force behind decluttering services Tapioca Tidy, where she works with clients to help declutter their homes or working spaces. Jo explained: “Decluttering is best done in bite-size chunks rather than spending an entire day on your possessions. 

“Perhaps even 15 minutes to an hour is plenty to start with. Concentrate and focus on just one area – be it a drawer in your kitchen, or perhaps a small box of papers. Start on something that is not too emotional and perhaps something that has been nagging you for a while.”

Call in the professionals

Whether you are finding the number of items to work through overwhelming, are unable to make progress due to your mobility or are just looking for some emotional assistance, calling in professional decluttering services can be especially useful. It’s great to ask friends and family to help you out, however, there are a great range of professional organisers who are able to help you. Not only will they be able to help with the more manual parts of the job, but also, they’ll be in a position to be objective and might help you to realise you don’t need certain items. Their experience will mean they can also offer ideas for storage solutions that you may not think of.

Being clutter free is a great way to live a more relaxed lifestyle, and for anyone who feels their possessions overwhelm them, we highly recommend decluttering, whether you do so yourself or call-in home decluttering services to help. It’s extremely rewarding decluttering, meaning you can free up space in your home, focus on your favourite possessions and level up your home organisation. By doing so safely and efficiently, you might find you unlock a whole new lease of life.

If you are looking for more advice, feel free to head over to our mobility news page for a wealth of articles.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing