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DECOR ADVICE: Great tidy ideas

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New year resolutions to spring clean and purge often don’t last so these ideas may motivate you

EXPERT: Nicole Anzia, professional organiser and founder of Neatnik


Q: What are the main reasons why resolutions to be organised are derailed?

A: Trying to do it all in January and then stopping. People work really hard at decluttering and purging at the beginning of the year and then think they’re done. But organising isn’t something you’re ever done with. As long as things are coming into and leaving your home it’s a continual process. Do a little bit here and there and schedule regular time weekly or monthly to continue the work.

Q: What are your favourite organising and storage products?

A: Generally speaking clear bins from anywhere are great as you can clearly see the contents. Whatever storage containers you decide on, I would suggest buying a few extra so you have some on hand in case you can’t find more later.

Q: I’m overwhelmed by the clutter in my house. How do I find time to exercise, work, clean the house and declutter? Is there a way to do this that isn’t overwhelming?

A: Clutter is overwhelming and exhausting. A few thoughts: Set a timer for 30 minutes and try to conquer one space. If you finish before the time is up, move on to the next spot. Don’t try to do it all at once. You can have a friend come over to help if you can’t do it on your own.

Q: I’m fantastic at purging old, broken and useless items from my home, but when it comes to clothing, I struggle. I don’t change size, I’m careful when I wash things, and my style is simple, so most of my clothes remain in good or wearable condition for years and years. I worry that I will get rid of something and then realise I shouldn’t have. Obviously I’ll hang onto those special occasion clothing items that I truly treasure. Is there a good rule of thumb about this?

A: One thing that may help is to consider that because you have taken such good care of your things, someone else could probably use the items you’re no longer wearing. People will generally say that if you haven’t worn it in a year, you can get rid of it, but you need to use your own metric. Just as with all the other items you’ve managed to purge, clothing is also just stuff.

Q: I have a huge pile of paperwork to organise. Some is remodel stuff I need to save, some old bills I maybe don’t need to save and who knows what else. How do I begin and in what do I put all of the stuff I want to save?

A: As with all organising tasks, you just have to begin. I know a huge pile of paperwork is intimidating, but once you get going, you’ll find it’s much easier than you imagine, and you’ll be motivated to continue. Remodelling papers can be sorted and kept in a plastic bin with dividers for various categories. Old bills? Unless they are for valuable items or are related to a business, do you really need to keep them? Files can be stored in portable file boxes or in a filing cabinet. Anything that isn’t current can be kept in plastic file boxes.

Q: Many of my friends say they want to declutter but that their spouse hates parting with their things and becomes grumpy when presented with a plea to purge. What can you do to get someone to get on board to let go of stuff?

A: This is a common challenge and something I suggest you ask a third party to help with. Your spouse may be more likely to listen to someone who isn’t you and be open to purging things when someone else helps. Someone outside the relationship is likely to be less judgmental. Typically, once people get over their initial resistance and see progress, they see that it’s less difficult than they think and feel motivated to do more.

Q: I am preparing for a kitchen remodel that will include refinishing floors and moving furniture and china to accommodate the floor refinishing. We have begun purging unused kitchen items and other household items. Could you recommend a plan of attack for this endeavour? We have lived in this house for 25 years.

A: I would go drawer by drawer or cabinet by cabinet. Begin early enough so that you are not rushed. Do a little each day, and all the things you have not seen or used in a decade can go. Give some real thought to what you use most and set the things you’re undecided on aside to consider the following week. There are many good places to donate items where they will be put to good use by someone who needs them.

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