Drowning in clutter? Here’s what to do

Whether you put it down to capitalism, too many gift-giving occasions or an innate part of being a woman, our excessive accumulation of items manifests itself in the same way every time: mess. It’s time to get your organisational mojo into gear!

Otherwise known as clutter bugs, pack rats or collectors-gone-wild, compulsive hoarders collect copious amounts of unnecessary items they can’t bear to part with, so much so they feel extreme anxiety at the thought of throwing something away.

While thankfully many of us do not fall into this extreme category, there’s no denying our tendency to have irrational emotional connections to objects. The high school jersey, the collection of single earrings, chipped mugs, dried out lipsticks, unused hair products, ticket stubs, old keys, the mini skirt that’s become more hobo than boho – objects that should be classed as junk morph into unnecessary mementos and start to clutter valuable space for things of real sentimental worth.

So how exactly do we accumulate 12 silk scarves of the same colour without even realising it? In the age of Gok Wan, it seems that knowing what suits us is a rare and covetable gift, so naturally it’s exciting when we get it right. And who knows when we’ll see that perfect dress/lipstick/bikini again, let alone in three amazing colours?

De-cluttering has long been an intrinsic element of Eastern philosophies of wellbeing, harmony and mental clarity. We’ve all heard of the Chinese tradition of Feng Shui, mostly in relation to interior decorating, but traditionally the practice seeks to align human dwellings with astrology and the natural harmony of the universe, which is why Feng Shui-ed areas are often free of any unnecessary clutter that might block this flow. And there’s definitely something to be said for the calm aura of a clean bedroom/bathroom when you’re getting ready in the morning.

If you’re less concerned with inhibiting the flow of your chi and more worried about the wall of magazines blocking your doorway, don’t despair. Tips to de-clutter life are many and varied, but we’ve hand-picked the few that have recently helped the pack rats of Bella.

Start small

A mass cleanout can be overwhelming. To begin the overhaul, pick a small area and start going through it – and this doesn’t have to involve cleaning. The best part of de-cluttering is revisiting things that remind you of that time you went to that thing with that guy, or went travelling with that girl you met in Europe (although if you’re constantly referring to them in this way, they’re probably not going to care if you chuck something out that only conjures a dim memory of them).

Create piles

You’ll start to notice you’re certain about throwing or keeping some things and undecided about others. Cue the ‘keep’, ‘throw’ and ‘not sure’ piles. It’s self-explanatory, but there’s a catch. The ‘throw’ pile must be bigger than the ‘keep’ pile, and the ‘not sure’ pile must always be the smallest. Dumping everything in the ‘not sure’ pile only prolongs the pain, so the key is to be ruthless and commit to your decisions.

Make it a group effort

If you’re way too overwhelmed to go it alone, hold a weekend de-clutter bonanza with your friends and have an en-masse swap session. Clothing, books, CDs, ornaments – your trash is always someone else’s treasure, whether it’s your bestie or your local charity. Create a ‘give away’ pile as an adjunct to the ‘throw’ pile that doesn’t include anything broken or worn out so that no one gets stuck with holey underwear or naff knick-knacks.

Bathroom blitz

It’s true, you can never have too many beauty products. However, you can have too many empty, stale, out of date, dried out and damaged products. In fact, one of any of these is way too many. Your mission: collect, assess and only keep the ones that a) are in good condition, b) suit you, and c) you actually use.

Go forth and hold back

With empty uncluttered cupboards and carpet space, you’ll probably be tempted to run out and splurge en-masse to fill the house with the newest of pretty things – don’t do it! An easy way to make sure you don’t waste your de-cluttering efforts is to write down non-essential potential purchases as you think of them and only purchase anything if it has been on the list for more than a month. The end result? You’ll end up with more valuable possessions, save a lot of money and feel calm, clean and collected.