Hello and a very Happy New Year to you!

Although traditionally a time for turning a new leaf and making fresh resolutions in our lives, for many people January is that long and dreary month we almost see no end to. Those first credit card bills start to drop through the letterbox and our homes lack the fairy light sparkle of December that we long for in the long, dark winter evenings.

However, despite all this post-Christmas doom and gloom, January is a brilliant month for taking some steps to reorganise our lives in another way. It is the perfect time of year to make a start on tidying up our homes and ridding them of excess clutter, be it unwanted Christmas presents, Christmas cards and packaging or tired old toys and clothes. Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned clear out! It gives a new lease of life to your home and makes you feel fantastic for having accomplished it. A win-win situation, no?

It has to be said that January has its fair share of grey and gloomy weather (and this year looks to be no exception to the rule), so set aside a couple of rainy weekend afternoons and go through each room in your house, assessing which items you want to keep, which need to go into storage (seasonal clothing, Christmas decorations etc), those that can be donated to charity or sold on the likes of eBay or Gumtree and set aside everything else for the trash pile, keeping an eye out for recyclables, of course.

utility

You’re almost ready to get stuck in, however take note of these five golden rules for successful decluttering before you do:

1. Organisation first, storage second

Always sort out your stuff before you buy lovely new storage boxes, baskets and tins for keeping your belongings in. It is very tempting to head straight to the shops to buy beautiful and clever storage solutions, however they have to work practically in your home. Efficient storage is always planned carefully beforehand, so assess what extra storage you need to buy once you have completed the clear out process and you know what exactly you’re dealing with.

2. Work room by room

Choose an area or room to start your reorganising in and don’t move on to the next zone until you are completely satisfied you have finished with the first one. It doesn’t really matter which room you start with, but the least messy or indeed smallest one will be more straightforward to deal with and therefore you’ll get the job done more quickly, feel a big sense of achievement and most importantly, be better motivated to tackle the next room!

Kitchen

3. Be realistic

Nobody can declutter and reorganise their entire home in one day, so don’t expect to. Setting yourself unachievable goals will only lead to frustration and burnout, making the chances of you actually completing the process extremely unlikely. Instead, set aside 2-3 hours over a weekend day or weeknight to get started and try to complete one goal within this time, such as clearing out your bedroom wardrobe or the cupboard under the stairs.

4. Complete each task completely

You’ve cleared out a bin bag’s worth of clothes destined for the charity shop and set aside a box of old baby toys for your best friend. This is all great, but there is no point in those bags and boxes of organised stuff sitting in your porch or hallway for weeks on end, whilst you try to continue daily life around them. Decide what’s going where and the very next day, make it your priority to take it there. Even if it means placing the box of toys in your car boot for a week or two before you can go to visit your friend, this is infinitely better than the box frustratingly taking up space in your freshly decluttered hallway.

5. Maintain your newly organised system

Easier said than done, however no less important. Don’t leave it until next January to tackle the mess right back where you started this year. Make it a regular priority to keep clutter at bay and you will learn to live a more organised, less chaotic life!

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Once you have suitably decluttered your living space, you will be left with a lovely clean canvas when it comes to planning those decorating and home improvement projects for the Spring. So get those sleeves rolled up and get started before the days get brighter and you want to spend more time outside in the garden. You’ll thank yourself for it!

Author: Dekko Bird

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This summer I made my annual pilgrimage to 100% Design in Earls Court, London, where dozens of young design graduates were displaying items made...

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