Re-organising your home halfway through the year will freshen up your space and help to keep things tidy long-term. Here’s an expert’s tips on the best way to tackle this kind of decluttering.
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As much as you probably try to avoid it, clutter and mess is an inevitable part of life. And while there are ways you can learn to live with it – or even make it part of your interiors aesthetic, as is popular on Instagram right now – there is a point when it all becomes too much.
Living with belongings you don’t need or like is probably affecting you in ways you don’t even realise. For example, a study from the University of California found that mothers living in messy houses had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Clutter can also affect concentration – Princeton University researchers discovered that when a person’s visual cortex is overwhelmed by objects not related to a particular task, it makes it harder to focus. Clutter has also been linked to sleep troubles and diet issues.
Keeping your space organised and as mess-free as possible is therefore an important part of looking after yourself. The end goal is to have a good routine in place to keep things tidy all the time but, even with that, creating a calm, tidy space often requires regular decluttering too.
“People tend to do one big declutter at the start of the year or at the start of spring but it’s important to try and declutter more than once a year if you can,” says Vicky Silverthorn, the founder of a London-based professional organising and decluttering service. “Mid-year is a great time to declutter your space as it should have given you enough time to reflect since you last decluttered and it will also help you feel organised for the rest of the year.”
A mid-year declutter should look different to the one you did at the start of the year. You’ll be glad to know that it doesn’t need to be as intensive and your aims should be slightly different too. Here, Vicky outlines how you should tackle mid-year decluttering, including organisational tips you can put in place now that will help keep your space tidy long-term.
Don’t aim for perfection when you are organising
When you’re decluttering at the start of the year or at Christmas, you might have more time on your hands than you do during the summer months. When the weather’s warm, a weekend spent decluttering might not be quite as appealing as it is during the cold, dark winter months.
Vicky therefore recommends that you don’t try to overhaul your whole house, like you might do with a regular declutter. “The aim should be a friendly level of organisation as opposed to absolute perfectionism,” she says.
You also don’t need to do all your decluttering in one day, or even one weekend. “If you can spare a whole day, that’s great. But if not, try an hour a day for a week,” Vicky suggests, adding, “never start something that you can’t finish.”
Take some time to walk around your house and reflect on your space and belongings
“Before you start decluttering, open your front door and walk into your house as if you are a guest,” Vicky suggests. “Walk around with fresh eyes and make some notes about the areas that you want to work on.”
From there, Vicky recommends working out which room is your priority area. “This is often the room that is used the most or is currently the most full and messy,” she explains. “A mid-year declutter is about getting rid of the items you no longer use so take some time to think about it and reflect on which items you have and haven’t used so far this year.”
“Ask yourself, what do I want from my space? What are the things that have annoyed me about my space since I last decluttered?” Vicky says. From there, you can figure out what the aim of your clear out is, whether that’s achieving more space or having fewer things to choose from to make decisions easier.
Consider whether your furniture and storage is effective
As well as thinking about whether you want to let go of individual items, mid-year is a great time to consider whether or not your furniture and storage solutions are working for you. “If you’ve noticed that the beautiful chest of drawers you bought actually isn’t very practical for your needs, this could be a time to think about replacing that,” Vicky advises. Vicky recommends always opting for multi-purpose furniture where you can, like sofa-beds and ottomans with storage.
If you have decluttered earlier in the year, it should be clear which parts of your home aren’t working for what you need, as there is less scope for you to blame your belongings, like clothes and other smaller items.
Reflect on your ‘maybe’ pile
Most organisers don’t suggest having a ‘maybe’ pile when you’re decluttering as it can cause you to delay your decisions. However, if there were some things you kept during a clear-out earlier in the year that you weren’t sure about, now is the time to reflect on these items and decide if you still want them.
“You might not have had the courage to get rid of them the first time but if you haven’t used them in 6 months, especially as the seasons have changed during that time, you probably don’t need them,” Vicky says. “You have to allow yourself to feel guilty if you have made purchases that were a mistake – embrace that guilt and use it to stop you making the same kind of buying errors in the future.”
Don’t try to overhaul your home
“I always advise people to never pull all the clothes out of their wardrobe or empty their kitchen cupboards before starting to organise,” Vicky says. “You’ll probably underestimate how long it’s going to take and you don’t want to be left with even more mess.”
With a mid-year clear-out, Vicky recommends decluttering in small sections. You will probably realise that some sections don’t need much organisation at all, whereas others need to be turned upside down completely.
Re-organise your space to make keeping tidy easier
Often mess accumulates when you’re looking for something and you have to displace other things in the process. It’s therefore crucial that you’re putting things away in the right order. This applies to storage in every room but it’s particularly useful in bedrooms and kitchens, as you’re probably reaching for different things in these rooms every day.
“Anything you use occasionally – less than once a month – should live high up,” Vicky says, whether this is in a top cupboard or on top of a wardrobe. “Never block something in a cupboard that you want to use daily,” she adds.
Another tip Vicky recommends is storing your most-used items in a way that allows you to see them at all times. “If you can see it, you’ll use it,” she says. “The opposite applies to things you don’t use regularly – distraction can weigh us down so keep them out of your eye-line.”
Vicky Silverthorn, professional organiser
Vicky is a professional organiser and the founder of You Need A Vicky, a London-based decluttering service.
Images: Getty and Vicky Silverthorn