With fast-paced careers and busy lifestyles, clutter can quickly get out of control in our homes, but it's actually easier than you may think to keep everywhere clean and perfectly organised. Nicola Lewis - aka This Girl Can Organise - has made it her mission to help people improve their living space, and now works as a professional home organiser, counting Zoe Ball, Katie Piper and Lisa Riley among her celebrity Instagram fans. We caught up with Nicola to get her top tips on decluttering, and some extra special advice for parents…
How often do you recommend people declutter their homes?
I tend to suggest to my clients that they review the clutter in their home every 90 days. This allows you to review the structure you have in place and gives you the opportunity to remove anything that may have crept in its place during each season.
Nicola helped to organise Gemma Collins' home in the summer
The decluttering process can seem overwhelming – what are your tips for getting started?
The first thing I recommend is to grab a notepad and pen. Writing down everything you want to achieve makes the task seem doable. Remember one tick off the list is better than none. Set the scene, light a candle, remove distractions, crank up the music… music helps when decluttering, it makes the job fun and takes you to positive places, therefore encouraging you.
Is there one common mistake people make in their homes?
Saying 'I'll do it later…' We all lead busy lives, but if you spend 30 minutes a day dealing with clutter it helps to keep it tidy. Also, not creating a home for belongings. When you don't have a home for your belongings automatically you think you know where it is but can never find it.
How do you decide what should stay and go?
It's quite easy, keep the items that you love and make you smile. For the items that don't fall into this category, simply donate or pass onto someone who will enjoy them. Don't keep an item because of guilt or how much it cost. If it no longer suits its purpose it's time to say goodbye. If you haven't worn or used the item in two years, it's time to go…
What do you suggest for parents whose homes are cluttered with toys?
The first step is to declutter the toys the children have grown out of. These items can be donated to your local pre-school, children's hospital or women's refuge, where they will benefit others. The second step is to label and contain the toys, and organise them into category order. The third step is not to overbuy – less is more. Introduce structured play; children respond well to routine, so by introducing different boxes each day they won't get bored.
What are the benefits of your approach?
This Girl Can Organise is all about keeping it fun, friendly and real. I enjoy motivating, inspiring and helping others as decluttering and organising can be very overwhelming. I'm a busy working mum-of-two who understands the demands life throws at you, so small steps and plenty of encouragement help.
How can people make their homes more environmentally friendly?
Stop buying chemicals: They aren't good for our waterways and are damaging our environment.
Reuse plastic: Fruit containers make fab fridge organisers, candle jars can be used for beauty jars, and washing containers make good drawer organisers. Keep shopping bags by the porch or in the boot of your car. When you are packing away the shopping and find yourself with lots of unnecessary plastic, take it back. If we all support each other, the big supermarkets will make that change.
Plan your food shop: this will reduce food waste and money spent, so you only buy the foods you need for that week.
Find out more and book a consultation with Nicola at thisgirlcanorganise.com.
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