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A simple guide to letting go of sentimental items

Struggling to let go of sentimental items? You are not alone. It is usually the hardest category to face in our homes and completely overwhelming for most. Our fear often times is what keeps us holding on, fear that we may loose the memory of the time or person if we let it go. Here in this guide, I have listed 10 ways that can really help you when crossing that bridge of fear.

KNOWING YOUR WHY

Knowing your “Why” is essential to letting go of sentimental items. Your why might be that you either need to downsize, you purely want to reduce, or that your things are weighing you down. When you focus on your why, you can come back to this when you get stuck. Spend some time reflecting and finding your why if you don’t know it already.

HOLDING ON CAN WEIGH MORE THAN LETTING GO

Have you ever had that feeling of feeling lighter when you let go of something? I have experienced this personally and many times with clients. I always recommend you “Keep the items in your home that you love and use and that make you feel GOOD”. Anything else, has the potential to leave us feeling anxious, guilty, sad, angry, overwhelmed and more. 

IF EVERYTHING IS SPECIAL, NOTHING IS SPECIAL

Exactly that. 50 trophies cannot be as special as just a few. Whatever the category, group like items together and then try and pick out an item or two that has the most significance. As Peter Walsh says “Find the treasures and let go of the rest”. If the items are from a deceased family member, ask yourself “If ………  asked me to choose just a few special items that truely represent them, which ones would they be?”

YOUR FAMILY DOESN’T WANT IT

Times have changed and these days, no one wants that antique piece of furniture that doesn’t fit in with their lifestyle. There are a number of places that will take a look at collectables that I have listed below. Be honest with yourself and respect your family’s choices. 

CAN IT ADD VALUE TO SOMEONE ELSE?

If your family is not interested, it can most likely add value to someone else. I often find that the clients that find it the hardest to let go, can let go more easily when they realise that someone else will get value out of the item.

OUR MEMORIES ARE INSIDE US

Not in our things! According to research, experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. Over time, people’s satisfaction with the things they buy decreases. Experiences continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred and I know that to be very true for me.

TAKE A PHOTO

If you are still worried about loosing the memory of an item if you let it go, take a photo of it and store it somewhere worthy, such as a special journal. Record the story with it and it can be handed down through the generations. This is really useful for larger hard to store items and children’s artwork and creations.

QUESTIONS TO ASK: 

Asking the right questions is key when reviewing your items. Without the correct questions, we may potentially get stuck and therefore, hold on. Check out my blog on “10 questions to ask yourself when decluttering” below. It can be super helpful to ask a friend for help if you struggle with asking the questions on your own.

DEAL WITH IT NOW OR LEAVE IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO…..

Ever heard of “Swedish death cleaning”? In Swedish, the word for death cleaning is döstädning, which is a term for the cleaning and de-cluttering you do when you think your time on earth might be coming to an end. However it can be done at any time in your life. In short, it is basically about decluttering everything in your life so that when you die, your affairs and “stuff” are all in order. This takes away the struggle, stress (and potential arguments!) of your family having to decide between themselves.

SENTIMENTAL BOX

Create a sentimental box for those very special items you want to keep. I have a few of these myself, which I review every few years. Every family member can have their own box, the idea being that when your kids leave home, they can take it with them.

In my years of assisting people to let go of their things, I have found the majority of them often struggle to let go. Use this as a guideline to support you along the way and let me know what worked for you xx

More reading:

10 Questions to ask yourself when you declutter blog

Where do I take my preloved items blog

Cordys

Antique Alley

Peter Walsh “Let it go”

Margareta Magnusson “The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning”

 

Decluttering during lockdown

I was recently interviewed by Carly Flynn on The Café show, about decluttering during lockdown. Here, I’m chatting about where to start and how to break it down into manageable sized chunks. Grab a coffee and tune in to this 7 minute interview for decluttering tips and strategies, so that you too can feel the calm that comes with having an organised home!

 

10 things to do at home during lockdown

We are currently in Lockdown here in New Zealand due to the Coronavirus, and we are not the only ones. Many countries are also in the same position which means that for a lot of us, we are stuck at home, most of the time. For some it will be a blessing, for others, a curse. Here, I have a compiled a list of 10 things to help you survive this stay at home crisis, and to utilise the time we have been gifted.

Connection and support

Psychologists say that the one thing most associated with emotional resilience is social connection and support. Our mental wellbeing is paramount to our survival during this period. You will need to check in with your family during this potentially stressful time, be kind and support one another. To connect with friends and family outside of your bubble, set up a Messenger or WhatsApp group. Arrange ‘virtual time’ such as a regular coffee catch up, a cocktail hour or even dinner together. It’s important to stay connected and support our loved ones and community – now more than ever.

Check in with your elderly neighbours

I live in a street with a number of people over the age of 70, the age that is the most at risk it seems. We have a member’s street Facebook page, where we can offer or ask for help and it is working well so far. This is a great time and opportunity to share any resources you might have, such as books, puzzles etc, to help pass the time. Again, WhatsApp and Messenger are great for keeping in contact too. For those neighbours who don’t use the internet, we check in on them regularly (keeping a safe distance of course!) to see if they need any supplies or errands to be run. I feel more connected to my neighbours now than I ever have and that in itself, feels great.

Structure

The first thing to do is to create some structure in the day. Of course you will especially need to do this if you have kids! Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively manage themselves and their environments and makes them feel safe. If you’re a bit stuck and need some help, Pinterest is a great place to search for this kind of thing – it’s a fantastic platform with loads of ideas and inspiration. Also check out the App Store and of course Google. Whatever you decide to do, I suggest creating a weekly family calendar, where everyone can see what is happening at each time of the day.

Meal Planning

I am a huge lover of meal planning, especially at the moment. I don’t want to be going to the supermarket too often during this time and by planning in advance, it means that I have everything I need to make a meal. I write all of the meals on our whiteboard and we can choose what we want each night. I promise you it will save you time, energy, money and creates less waste. If you need a helping hand there are free apps such as Foodplanner and Veganized. If you are not a fan of cooking, there is always My Food Bag and Woop for example, who will deliver your menus and produce directly to your front door even during lockdown.

Organising/decluttering

I would have thought that now is the best time ever, to declutter and organise your home, especially if you can’t work from home and therefore have more time on your hands. HOWEVER….. I recently read an article on RNZ that said that we all need to be mindful if we are throwing things out. Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil said “It will only create more rubbish for the team to sort through and add pressure on the staff….” Not only are charity shops in NZ currently closed at the moment anyway, but kerbside recycling in some areas is not operating either. If you are keen to get stuck into some decluttering all the same, just be mindful of what you are getting rid of. If you have a spare room/area in your house, use that to store your charity items until this whole thing has blown over. And recycling? I’m going to continue to recycle but will wait until it is safe to move it on again. Need some help? I have written a number of articles here on the blog page that are designed to help you, so check them out.

Cleaning

When I’m working with clients, I tend to clean as we go – keep this is mind if you are going to get stuck into some decluttering. I for one, am using this time to get into some deep cleaning Here are some ideas:

Pull out the fridge and dishwasher and clean underneath them

Clean walls and wall switches

Wipe down doors and cabinets

Vacuum under the bed and other hard to get to places

Clean your oven

Clean and sort under the sink

Shannon Lush has some great tips here on how to keep you and your home clean during lockdown too.

Paperwork

One of the most dreaded categories for most of us…… it tends to build up so easily doesn’t it? And  creates stress and overwhelm, especially when there is no system in place. Use this time to chip away at it – schedule in time to do it each day or week, or perhaps you would prefer to do it in one foul swoop. Choose a time that will work the best for you and when you are less likely to get distracted. The first thing you need to do is to gather all of your paperwork wherever it is lurking in your home and I mean ALL of it. Then it’s a matter of sorting it – I tend to lump categories together in the beginning to make it easier. Manila folders and post it notes work really well for the sorting stage – it means that if you want to come back to it, you can, easily. Now it is decision time. Make piles of keep, recycle and shred. Once you have done that it is time to create a filing system that will work for you. If you get stuck, check out the book ‘Paper Flow’ which has been written by a Professional Organiser. It’s super easy to read and has simple strategies and tips on how to organise your papers. The next and most important step, is to schedule into your diary WHEN you will action your paperwork! If you don’t do this, the very systems you create will fall apart super fast.

Projects

Photo organising, sorting out the garage, repairing, mending, re-styling, up cycling and the list goes on……how many of us have projects that we have been wanting to tackle but haven’t had the time to? Now would be a great time to action these. Create some space in your week to get stuck into your project(s) – you could even use your family calendar here. You may need to settle your kids into an activity in order to free up some time to do this, depending on their ages.

Home work outs/meditation

Where would we be without the internet?  It is one of our best friends at the moment as I am sure many of you would agree. Whether you are into yoga, pilates, gym workouts or meditation, there are so many platforms out there which allow you to keep fit, focused and positive, in your own home. The benefits of exercise are endless. Among other things, it promotes the release of endorphins and helps to keep your immune system working effectively – super key right now. You Tube, App Store, Facebook and Instagram are awesome go to platforms that I enjoy.

Participate in social media challenges

I for one, LOVE to have fun. Get involved in fun social media challenges – set up your own or join in on a friends. Themes could be: A costume of the day, creative ideas, 3 grateful things, acts of kindness, funny stuff, you get the idea. It stimulates you to be creative while passing the time and connecting with others.

So there you have it. I hope these ideas inspire and help you to not only make your days more enjoyable, but to keep you sane in these unknown times!

Enjoy, stay well, stay safe and be kind 🙂

 

 

 

 

Create your dream garage

The garage is often an area where items get dumped and tend to have a clutter affect. It seems to be a magnet for random items that we either don’t know what to do with or have just not made a decision on. Summer is the time of the year when I receive lots of calls from people who want to get their garage organised, while the weather is warm and there is less chance of rain. If your garage needs some TLC and you are not sure where to start, check out my blog ‘6 Steps to an organised garage’ where I have broken down the process into bite size chunks. Today I am adding a few more tips on how to create a garage space that is functional and organised.

How do you want it to look?

It’s important to have a vision for the space before you start. How do you want it to look and function? Do you have any storage? Do you need to create better storage solutions? If items are lying about on the floor of your garage, it may be that you don’t have the necessary storage to house them. Functionality is key, but your garage can also look cool too!

Creating a budget

You might want to work with some of the storage you already have, add a few pieces in or get a completely new look altogether. It will come down to your budget so spend some time planning that. It does not have to cost the earth to get your garage organised – it depends on how much stuff you have and need to store. Firstly though, I never recommend buying storage of any kind until you have gone through the process of decluttering first, so you know exactly how many items you are working with. Many people make this mistake and often blow their budget by spending too much on storage before they have even begun. Some basic shelving and clear plastic boxes work a treat in your garage and is a very affordable option, keeping items contained and visible. Whatever you budget might be, it is important to be able to see your items, know where they are and gain access to them.

Planning your garage

It’s important to create zones for items as this not only makes it easier to find them, but by putting ‘like’ items together, it just makes sense. Think of it like a Bunnings store where they have made it easy to find what you need. Items need to have a place (zone) that will make sense to you and the people you live with. Every day items should be in your ‘Prime’ space and occasional use items either up high, lower down or in those not as easy to get to spaces if you have them.

Get creative

Mitre 10 and Bunnings have some great storage solutions for your tools that are very affordable. Anything from a pegboard to wall or modular cabinets, hooks, sturdy storage boxes and bins and shelving units. Wardrobe World have some good options for fitting out your garage including storage for sporting goods, fishing gear and golf trolleys. If you have a lot of sports equipment, Torpedo7 are the people to see and if you are wanting a complete re fit and budget is not an option, check out Gladiator Garage – they are the mac daddy of garage outfitters!  If you want to get creative and DIY, Pinterest has some amazing ideas that can give you some inspiration as well.

Do you want to park your car in the garage?

Is it in your vision to be able to park your car in the garage or do you want to use it just for storage? Maybe you want to set up a gym in there or use it as a creative space? Folding workbenches might be an option along one wall if you want both. They are hinged and can be lifted up to create a useable workspace or folded down when not in use. Either way, if you want to be able to park your car in the garage you will need to keep your storage as streamlined as possible. Use all of the available wall areas where possible as well as the ceiling when planning your garage space. My top tip here is to get items off the floor where possible.

To finish

Try to get into the habit of not using your garage as a dumping ground! Work on making decisions about your things first. It’s a good idea to have a clear out of your garage each season, or of that’s too often at least yearly. You’d be amazed at how quickly ‘Stuff’ builds up in this area. A garage sale can be a good option if you need to move items on – it’s a great way to get the family involved and lots of fun. Read my blog ‘How to organise a successful garage sale’ here….

I’d love to hear if you have any more storage solutions that have worked for you, so feel free to let me know here. And if you’re feeling inspired to get stuck into your garage before summer is over, all the best of luck! 🙂

Spring with Your Home and Garden

Spring has sprung and I’m EXCITED! With Spring comes the promise of summer, of which I am a lover of.

This September, I’m delighted to share with you my feature article in the latest issue of Your Home and Garden magazine….. yippee! My ’10 healthy habits for a clutter free home’ are there to inspire, motivate and get you thinking about a few simple habits you can create to tame your clutter once and for all.

So grab a cuppa and a cosy spot where you can read read the full article here…..

I’d love to hear which habit inspires you the most so feel free to comment below and happy reading!!

4 simple ways to create inner peace

Lets face it. Most of us lead busy if not hectic lives these days – we are juggling to balance work life, family life and everything else in between. Many of us are stressed out, worn out and are unable to be the best versions of ourselves. My recent relocation from a busy bustling city to a small beach side town, has given me the time, space and energy to re-evaluate my life. I have been working on reducing stress and anxiety in the few months I have been here and the outcome has been life changing! So I wanted to share with you four simple things that have and are continuing to make a huge impact on my every day life (and potentially yours!)

#1 Meditation:

I have been told that meditation is the key to happiness and now that I am doing it daily, I am starting to believe it! I started with 10 free days of meditating with the Headspace app (it’s only 10 minutes a day) and am now using the Insight timer app that has the largest free library of guided meditations. Here, you can choose what type of meditation you would like and for how long. I have created the habit of meditating for 20 minutes every morning, at the same time, in the same place. I am now so much more aware of my surroundings and am definitely more at peace with myself and the world around me. I urge you to give it a try, even if you can only find 5 minutes a day.

#2 Yoga:

When we are at our busiest, it can be very difficult to find the time for yoga. I have definitely struggled with this from time to time – everything else seems to take priority. But by the time I had arrived here in Mangawhai, I had already made the decision to find a yoga teacher. I am currently doing Hatha yoga every week – I enjoy the gentle flow of the class and it really helps to create awareness of my body and my mind. The benefits of doing yoga are endless and although I have been doing yoga on and off for 20 years, this time I am committed to my practice, even if I can only attend one class a week. There is also a great app Gaia that allows you to practice in the comfort of your home, if you are unable to get to a class.

#3 Walking:

Living so close to the beach makes this one easy. Coupled with the fact that I have a little dog that loves to walk too, I am able to get there regularly. I use this time not only as a time for me and for Arlo, but also as an opportunity to walk mindfully. A mindfulness walk clears the mind of clutter and brings awareness to your body. Studies have shown that taking a break in nature can have a rejuvenating effect on the brain, helping to free up your mind when you feel stuck and boosting levels of attention. If you love walking as much as I do, see if you can make time throughout your week for you.

#4 Gratefulness diary:

One of the best ways to show thankfulness on a daily basis is to keep a gratitude journal. Among other things, keeping a daily diary increases positivity, reduces stress and makes you happier. The simple habit of reflecting on what you’re grateful for, can actually lead to a happier, more content life. Keep doing it every night until it becomes a habit. I like to write in the evening before I go to bed, so that I can reflect on my day and I keep it to just three things. 

So there you have it. It’s amazing how by integrating these four simple things into my life, I am able to be more present and am finding my own inner peace. They have helped me to connect with myself and have reminded me to slow down and just breathe, when the going gets tough. I still have a long way to go on my journey, but the most important thing about this post is not just about what has been possible for me but what can be possible for you. Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing your thoughts below 🙂

Create new habits and make 2019 your best year yet!

It’s a New Year, yay! And a great opportunity to make a fresh start. I decided to make my first blog this year about habits, as it is the number one issue that many of the people I work with face. Once I have helped people to create systems in their home that are tailored specifically to them and the people they live with, it is down to them to create and work on new habits in order for the systems to work. But new habits can take time and effort to create and backsliding often happens. I hope that this blog inspires you to make change and create new habits this year!

1: How long does it take to create a new habit?

It takes 21 days to build a habit, doesn’t it? It’s the long-held belief of almost all people. This can vary for each person, their circumstances and each habit. Some habits are tricky to implement, while others are easier. My advice is to focus and commit to one specific habit for a month. By working on one habit at a time, it will be easier than trying to implement several habits at once. Take some time to think about which habit you would like to begin with – brain dumping onto paper can be helpful.

2: How do you create a new habit?

Have you ever heard of habit stacking? The phrase ‘habit stacking’ was coined by Wall Street Journal bestselling author S.J Scott. In his 2014 book ‘Habit Stacking’ he recommends that you “build routines around habits that don’t require effort”. He suggests that one of the best ways to build a new habit, is to determine a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new habit on top of it. For example:

  • After making my bed each day, I will meditate for 10 minutes
  • Once I have finished eating dinner, I will do the dishes
  • After cleaning my teeth, I will floss them

Why does habit stacking work? Your current habits are already built into your brain. Some of them you do without even thinking about it, they have become second nature to you. By stacking your new habit on top of a current habit that is already created in your brain, it will be much more likely that you’ll stick to the new habit. Brainstorm a list of habits you already have and take some time to reflect on these. Then think about where your new habit can be stacked.

3: Be accountable

Have you ever heard of the ‘Hawthorne Effect’? It refers to the fact that people are more likely to follow through with a commitment when they are being observed (read more about it here….) You have probably experienced at least once in your life, that as soon as you talk to a friend about something you are going to give up or implement, you are instantly accountable. For a new habit to form, you need to be reminded constantly as you build that habit. So talk to a friend about your new habit! Let them know about your efforts and goals. Find someone who will challenge, engage and evoke a sense of accomplishment in you.

4: Reward

Building new habits can be tiring at times and it is important to celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small. When we reward ourselves, it:

  • Makes us feel good!
  • Boosts our self worth
  • Increases self esteem
  • Helps us to stay motivated
  • Increases our ability to achieve our goals

Take a moment to think about some rewards that will work for you. These can vary from small to big, depending on what you are trying to achieve. They don’t have to cost the earth and is ideal if it is something you really like and enjoy. Examples are: Go for a walk in nature, meet a friend for a coffee, buy yourself some flowers (one of my favourites!) listen to one of your favourite podcasts, read a chapter of your book, go to an art gallery, book a meal out with friends.

So there you have it. What new habit are you going to create today to make 2019 your best year yet?

 

 

 

 

 

The lowdown on downsizing

It happens to most of us at one point in our lives, whether we like it or not. For many, it is a very overwhelming task that forces us to face our stuff. Now for those of us that have not faced our stuff on a regular basis, the thought of letting go of a lifetime of possessions is daunting and unthinkable. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I was recently interviewed by the NZ Woman’s weekly on this topic and I explained how it can be a great opportunity to celebrate and enjoy a fresh start in life. Today I’m going to share with you my top 5 tips on how this process can be made SO much easier.

#1 Live in the moment

Downsizing doesn’t mean that you will loose everything you own. Sure, you won’t be able to take every item you own with you – it is just not possible. It forces us to make many decisions which can be very difficult, depending on our circumstances. Taking only the things we truly love and use now and which add value to our lives, causes us to live in the present. And what a wonderful thing that is! Having only those items in our homes that make us feel good, are the ones to surround ourselves with. Not the ones that cause us to feel any kind of negative emotions, which is distracting to say the least. Viewing downsizing as a positive experience where we can pare back and be honest with ourselves is truly liberating.

#2 Plan well in advance

This is one of the biggest problems I see – people just don’t give themselves enough time to prepare in advance. And believe me, the process takes a lot longer than you think it will. The more things you own, the more time it will take to make decisions. And if your belongings have not been reviewed regularly, the harder it will be to make those decisions. The more organised you are prior to the big day, the less stress you (and family members) will encounter. If you are pushed for time, I recommend that you employ the services of a professional to help take the stress out of the process.

#3 Ask for help

One of the hardest things people struggle with is letting go of possessions. If it’s all too much and you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help! Whether it’s from a family member, objective friend or professional, it’s okay to reach out if you are struggling at any point during the process. It is so much easier making decisions when you have a support buddy to help you and speeds the process along when you are feeling stuck.

#4 Ask the right questions

It is important to ask the right questions throughout this process. “ Do I love it?” “Do I use it?” “Does it add value to my life now?” are key questions to ask. Our situations change over time and items may no longer have the value they once had. We move on from things as we change as people – this is very natural and a part of life. Embrace who you are now and be honest with your decision making, remembering that you simply cannot take everything with you anyway.

#5 Capture your memories

There are so many memories behind our belongings. Most items in our homes have stories attached to them. I find that once the story has been told, it is easier to let go of the item. Take photos of treasured items and record their stories. These can be passed down through generations and the legacy lives on. Remember that our memories are inside us and will be with us forever. We don’t always need to keep the item to remember the experience, but having a photo triggers our memory and allows us to reminisce.

By following these tips, your downsizing experience can be a truely positive life change. You will most definitely go through many emotions as you face your belongings. But what might seem like an overwhelming task to begin with, can turn into a wonderful opportunity to create new memories and a new start in life!

 

 

 

 

How to organise your fridge and keep it that way

Oh……. the fridge. That cold dark place that is so often overlooked and forgotten. The biggest problem I see? Deep shelves which are near impossible to get to the back of (do you know what is living at the back of yours?) and lack of organisation and/or no organisation. The fridge can be just as organised as other areas of your home, if not more. Today I want to share with you my strategies and tips on how you can declutter and organise your fridge AND stay on top of it!

Food items in our fridges tend to hide in there for long periods of time and often get lost and forgotten. The fridge is a magnet for clutter and I bet there are things in there that you will never use and don’t need anymore. Grab some rubbish bags, cleaning items and a box for recycling. Clear your kitchen surfaces so that you have room to sort.

Start in your fridge and work from the top shelf to the bottom, pulling everything out, shelf by shelf. Group like items together. Do the same with the shelves on the doors and the vegetable and fruit crispers. Check expiry dates on items where possible and get rid of anything that is out of date, looks like it has seen better days and items you know you wont use and don’t like. Recycle jars and compost what you can.

Now you have sorted your items, use this opportunity to give your fridge a good wipe down. When reorganising your items back into your fridge create zones for them wherever you can and group your like items together. Suggested zones are: Dairy, meats, dressings and sauces, spreads, breads, drinks, fruits and vegetables. Adjust the shelves accordingly to suit.

My top tips include:

  • Use plastic containers with a handle to store like items together for easy access (see photo below of a fridge where I used these)
  • Label your containers, shelves and zones – very helpful if you live with others
  • Before putting your weeks shop away, spend a few minutes decluttering and reviewing your entire fridge first to avoid waste
  • Menu plan to avoid excess

Have a go and let me know how you get on!