Do you have so much stuff that you are paying to store it? According to a survey* carried out for us, 1 in 8 UK adults are paying to store some of their possessions.
And it isn’t cheap either: on average we pay almost £16 pounds a month to store stuff, however, nearly 1 in 3 of us pays more than £20 a month – or over £240 a year!
If you are currently paying for storage or are considering getting your first self-storage unit, have a read of our de-cluttering guide, which might be able to help you downsize and eliminate the need to pay out for extra space.
Even if you aren’t paying or planning on paying for storage, it’s a good idea for everyone to have a clear out once in a while. For most people, finding the time and energy to de-clutter can seem impossible, but just setting aside 5 minutes every day to sort through your things can be a great start. Short spurts of tidying can really help you focus and force you to make some quick decisions.
Here are our 20 top tips to help you de-clutter:
1. Have a home for everything and try to stop yourself from ramming random things into drawers to ‘sort out later.’ For the majority of people ‘later’ never comes around!
2. Try not to keep things ‘just in case you might need them in the future,’ especially if you know that the next time might be years away.
3. Get organised – you can’t tackle your home in one go. Choose 1 room to start with and don’t move on until you’ve finished de-cluttering it. It takes time to de-clutter your home properly, so don’t expect to be done and dusted in a day.
4. Recruit your family to help. Explain to any children you might have the benefits of de-cluttering and ask them to have a go at sorting through their things. If they haven’t played with something for a couple of months, consider donating it to a charity shop or selling it on eBay/Gumtree.
5. Try to think objectively. If you’re very sentimental, de-cluttering can be extremely difficult. It makes sense to tackle sentimental things last.
6. Don’t feel like you have to keep something just because you paid a lot for it. At least if you give it away or sell it, someone else will benefit from it and you may earn yourself some extra money in the process.
7. Be realistic about what you are prepared to do. There is little point filling a box with items to sell on eBay if you know you won’t get round to listing them.
8. If you fill a box to donate to a charity shop, set yourself a deadline to make sure that you make the trip. You could put the box in the boot of your car, ready to go, fill a charity bag or see if the charity shop will collect larger items/furniture from your home.
9. Come up with a filing system for any letters, leaflets or random paper that you receive, rather than dumping them in a pile on a worktop or by your front door. You could have separate folders for important documents, bank statements, bills etc. you could even have a paper recycling bin by the front door so you can throw junk mail the second it comes through your letterbox.
10. Think about how you store things you use on a daily basis. For instance, why not have a place out of sight for your shoes and store things like toys away in storage boxes with lids?
11. Train yourself to scan a room before you leave it to check that everything is in its correct place. If you spend a few minutes tidying each day you probably won’t need to spend as much time doing a big tidy up at the end of the week.
12. When was the last time you sorted through your wardrobes and drawers? You could give clothes you don’t wear very often, or ones that don’t fit you, to charity or bin those that are too worn. Why not adopt a ‘one in, one out rule’ and remove a piece of clothing from your wardrobe every time you buy something new.
13. If deciding which clothes to keep and which to discard is a real struggle, try the ‘reverse hanger’ trick. This involves taking everything out of your wardrobe and putting it back just as it was but with the hangers facing the wrong way. After you have worn something once, return it to the wardrobe as normal, with the hanger facing the right way. After three months, review your wardrobe and anything you haven’t worn during that time will be easy to spot because its hanger will be facing the wrong way. This should make deciding what to keep and what to discard a lot easier.
14. De-cluttering guru Marie Kondo suggests disregarding anything that we don’t love or that doesn’t have a practical use (e.g. a toaster, hoover). She is a big advocate for tackling the volume of possessions we have first, then considering storage and tidying up afterwards.
15. It might be a good idea to think about your furniture when de-cluttering. Do you have too much furniture? Do you have a side table that‘s a magnet for clutter? Would you miss it if it wasn’t there? If you can’t bear to lose any furniture, why not consider moving the stuff you do have around … it could make your room seem much bigger.
16. Why not take a ‘lost property’ box with you as you work on de-cluttering each room. If something is in the wrong room, just place it in the box to deal with later. Once you’ve finished a room, you can put the items from the box away. This could save you lots of time as you won’t be going back and to, from one room to another.
17. Consider adding shelves to house things like books, DVDs and CDs. Try to cut down on your collections so you only have books/DVDs you enjoy watching regularly. If you haven’t watched something for a year then you probably won’t miss it.
18. If you are worried that you’ll be replacing the clutter you get rid of with more clutter in the weeks to come, why not vow to change your spending behaviour? Create a 30 day list – every time you want to buy something, write it down on a piece of paper and put the date next to it. After 30 days have passed, you may give yourself ‘permission’ to buy it, if you still want it, that is. You’ll probably find that you don’t!
19. If you have a compact kitchen but rarely use your dining room, you could consider the benefits of knocking through and having one big kitchen. You would be able to incorporate more kitchen cupboards which could help you keep your worktops clear of clutter.
20. If space is at a premium in your home, you could consider converting your garage or extending to give yourself more storage options. 1 in 8 (12%) of people planning home improvements in 2015 are hoping to extend or convert their garages/lofts to create more liveable space.*
*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 21st November and 28th November 2014, of whom 636 were Scottish residents.
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By Hayley Cox