Decluttering in the age of COVID-19

If you’ve been working from home during COVID-19, chances are you’ve recently become better acquainted with your home – and all the stuff in it – than you’ve ever been before.

With homes and garages filled to bursting, the pandemic has forced many of us to face the reality of a life spend acquiring and consuming things – and what it means when we’re suddenly forced to live surrounded by our choices.  

If it feels like you’re spending most of your life tidying, or if you’re constantly tripping over the detritus of day-to-day life, it might be time to get organised.   

Here’s how to declutter your home with (almost) professional results.

Articulate your vision

According to Kirsty Farrugia, professional organiser and co-founder of home organisation business The Art of Decluttering, the first step is thinking about the vision you have you’re your home. What sort of space do you want to inhabit? How do you want to feel when you’re there?

“For my clients, this vision can be their north star or their guiding light for when they’re finding the decluttering process difficult and when they feel discouraged by their home,” Farrugia says.

“They know what they’re working towards and it can be motivation for them.”

Break the job down

Once you’ve got your vision sketched out, the next step is to start tackling your clutter. But be warned: if you’re decluttering on your own (that is, without the help of a professional), it’s strongly advisable to start small. Like, really small.

“I often say to start with whatever your feet hit first or whatever your eyes land on first,” Farrugia says.

“Be realistic about what you can get done in the timeframe you’ve given yourself. Often, we hear from podcast listeners and clients in the past that they do the Marie Kondo thing and pull everything out all at once and go, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so overwhelmed I cannot make a decision.’”

Ask the right questions

Decluttering is essentially a process of reviewing each of the objects in your home and deciding what to do with each one. Most of the time, you’ve got four basic choices: chuck it or recycle it, donate it, sell it or keep it.

But if you’re already living clutter, it might be because these simple decisions feel … well, impossible. The trick, according to Farrugia, is learning to ask yourself questions that make clear what each object means to you.

These could include:

  • Does this item support my values or my priorities?
  • Does this item fit with the vision I have for my ideal space?
  • Does this item feel essential and meaningful to me?
  • Have I used it in the last year?
  • If I broke it, would I buy this item again?
  • Do I have a realistic plan to use this in the future?
  • Is this item really worth the space it’s taking up in my home?
  • Could this item be even more use and helpful for another person?
  • Do I have a similar item that serves the same purpose?
  • Would it impact my daily life not to have this item? 

Build good habits

The physical act of decluttering is really the first step of a bigger process – the key is to build good habits while you’re decluttering so you can maintain your results long term. And, if you follow Farrugia’s golden rules, you might be surprised by how easy it is to maintain your new lifestyle once you’ve done the initial purge.

These rules include:

  • Just Do It, which means completing any job that takes less than two minutes as soon as you see it needs to be done;
  • The Power of 15 Minutes, which encourages daily bursts of decluttering and tidying in – you guessed it – 15-minute blocks;
  • Don’t Put it Down, Put it Away, which means putting an item back as soon as you’ve used it; and
  • Stopping the Flow, which is about being intentional about what you bring into your home.

The ultimate goal is about recreating our homes as the spaces we want them to be and making space for the things we truly value.

“Our homes are storage houses for our treasures. They’re our own personal museums. But what I encourage people to do is actually be the curators of their own stories of their lives,” Farrugia says.

Hire a professional

If you’ve tried and failed, or if decluttering on your own seems like an impossible task, then forking out for professional advice can be money really – and truly – well spent.

“If I’m coming in, we can get a whole lot more done because people set aside the time and money to invest in having me in their home,” Farrugia says.

“It means we can really get cracking on decluttering and organising your space.”

The Art of Decluttering has professional organisers in Sydney and Melbourne. Visit www.theartofdecluttering.com.au