What I learnt from a virtual organisation consultation

I’ll start with an admission: I don’t like to throw stuff away. I’m not a certified hoarder, but I’ll find a way to keep hold of anything and everything. Consequently, I have a fair bit of clutter.

So when I was offered a virtual consultation session with a professional organiser, it seemed only right that I finally get some advice on how to streamline my stuff. Vicky Silverthorn started her organising business You Need A Vicky ten years ago, helping people to declutter and organise their homes, and her book, Start with Your Sock Drawer, is an Amazon bestseller.

organisation

Here’s what I learnt from my virtual organisation consultation with her…

Emotional attachments are normal

One of the first things Vicky assured me of was that we all form some kind of emotional attachment to every object we own. These attachments are of differing levels, of course – you’ll have a much stronger emotional attachment to your wedding dress than you will a pair of socks – but the connection is still there. While some people can cut these bonds easily, others, like myself, find this more difficult – I honestly think I can form an emotional attachment to a teaspoon, and this is how clutter accumulates.

Start small

Given the name of her book and that she’s currently working with sock and underwear brand Bombas, it’s no surprise Vicky told me to start my organisation journey with my sock drawer. Rather than trying to tackle a whole room or wardrobe, one drawer is achievable and will give you that quick win satisfaction that will spur you on to do more.

First, pull everything out of the drawer and lay it out. Sort into categories, so for socks you might categorise them into ‘everyday’, ‘fancy/fun’ and ‘sports’. Discard any that are no longer required – if they have holes, are itchy or irritate you, the elastic has gone or you know you’re simply never going to wear them again. Wipe down the drawer to signify a fresh start, then use one of two methods to ball them up (see video below) before popping them back into the drawer, using divider boxes to keep the categories separate. I used these IKEA ones which come in a range of sizes and are perfect for the job.

Ask yourself one question

Some professional organisers will ask questions like when did you last use an item or how much do you use it. Vicky says that it’s easy to come up with excuses for questions like this, so the real question to ask yourself is ‘can I live without this?’ It tackles that emotional attachment head on and makes you realise what you’re holding onto for the sake of it.

Tidy in company

If you’re someone who always finds an excuse not to tidy or organise, Vicky told me that some people perform a task better when another person is present. Dubbed ‘body doubling’, it’s been anecdotally reported that just the presence of another person in the same room (or even house) can be motivation enough to be productive, even if you’re not doing the same task (although it can always make a task easier and more fun when done with a partner or friend).

Categorisation is your friend

A lot of Vicky’s answers to my questions came back to categorisation. By grouping stuff together (eg. tech, hair accessories, notebooks etc) you’ll be able find things much more easily and everything will have a home for it to be tidied away into. For example, I have a few cameras that don’t have a designated ‘home’ so are just laying around the house. Vicky advised I get out everything tech-related I own (cameras, wires, chargers, batteries etc) so I can see how much there is, then I can designate an appropriately sized space for it all, whether that’s a drawer, a cupboard or a box under the bed.

Ignore the Instagrammers

It’s easy to be influenced by the shiny, ‘perfect’ homes of Instagrammers, with their neatly labelled glass mason jars and highly-organised perspex boxes. But first stop and think if this is an achievable method for yourself. If you don’t have the time or patience to maintain that level of organisation, you’re eventually going to fail. Find a level of organisation that’s right for you; things don’t have to be perfectly lined up to within a millimetre of each other – as long as everything has a ‘home’ and can be easily seen and found, that’s good enough.

Too much stuff? Buy less

This sounds an obvious one but Vicky said something that really struck a chord with me. ‘We can appreciate nice stuff without having to own it. You can look at something in a shop, admire it and then move on.’ It’s true that I feel a need to own everything I see that I like the look of, regardless of whether I have the space for it (which is why I own more lamps than tables to put them on).

Her other top organisation tip was to avoid bulk buying. Unless you’re blessed with a huge pantry, no one needs to keep ten kilos of dried pasta in the house – that’s what supermarkets are for.

READ MORE: 5 minute decluttering jobs to tackle mess in an instant