DECLUTTERING INTERVIEW

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An interview with Sasha by Registered Hypnotherapist Ian Sherred at Tadpole Hypnotherapy www.tadpolehypnotherapy.com.

 

 In a nutshell, what does a professional declutterer do?

We are basically organisation experts who assist people with eliminating unnecessary clutter from their home or office.  Our aim is to create for our clients a living or working space that fits their needs more effectively.  By clearing a home or office of all unnecessary possessions we focus on creating an environment that relaxes, invigorates, inspires or motivates.  The end result is a more beautiful and organised space.  An orgainised space benefits the client as everything is easier to find.  We all know the feeling of searching for a lost item or important piece of paperwork, it can be extremely frustrating.  By organising a space effectively you will find that you save a great deal of your time.  Often when I work for a client we also find many duplicate items, so you will also save money by not having to buy the same items over and over again due to loss!

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How did you become involved in the industry?

 Well Ian, the decluttering process was something that I did naturally in my own home.  I grew up in a family who practiced the philosophy of ‘waste not, want not’ so I think in a way it was a bit of a rebellion to be tidy!  Over the years family and friends started asking me to help them out with their homes, and I fell into the business naturally.  In fact I didn’t even know this could be turned into a career, but after some Internet research I found that in America decluttering experts are commonplace and the industry has been operating for years.  Here in the UK the industry is fairly new, but is becoming more popular with shows such as Life Laundry, and the formation of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers  http://www.apdo-uk.co.uk/.

 

I can imagine that the process often arouses strong emotions in people.  Can you give us an idea of how you might help with that?

 

Yes, that’s a great question.  People hold onto clutter for a number of reasons.  For some the clutter has simply built up and letting it go is fairly easy once they get started.  There are though occasions when strong emotions are aroused.  This might be because a person finds the clutter around them comforting because it creates a barrier between them and the outside world, and letting go of items triggers anxiety and upset.  Another reason is when items are sentimental.  Now it is very important that clients are not pushed into letting go of any items that they view as important to them, and I recommend that people put sentimental items in spaces where they can be appreciated and honoured.  However, for some people they have been left a house full of items due to a bereavement for example, and every item reminds them of the person who has passed away.  Here it is important to seek out the most special items that bring back the best memories, and by honouring these items clients find it easier to let go of the guilt of releasing unwanted items.  The major issues though come from people who might be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), where they might hoard any items regardless of their importance or usefulness.  Many people can’t use spare rooms and living rooms are so cluttered that I regularly have to walk through narrow pathways in the largest of rooms.  I have written an article on ‘Why Do We Clutter’ that can be accessed at  WHY DO WE CLUTTER? that covers many more reasons for cluttering.

 

When I entered into this business I realised that it was the perfect career for me, as I am also a Psychologist and specialist counsellor for anxiety issues including panic, general anxiety or OCD.  I have many techniques to assist people with any emotions that might arise during the decluttering process and I approach clients with empathy and understanding.  A number of clients have told me how helpful my approach was, and although they have been unable to let go of items in the past even with professional decluttering assistance, that I made the process more of a pleasure and an emotional release for them.  It is important for a number of people that the emotional reasons for clutter are dealt with before employing a declutterer as for some the clutter will build back up, as it is there for a reason.  I compare decluttering to something like weight-loss, if the weight on your body or in your home is there for some self-protective reason, that needs to be sorted out first, and then after the initial effort the weight will be kept off naturally and easily.

 

So what sort of difference does decluttering make to people’s lives?

 Benefits are huge, initially people find that they have more time as they can find things more easily and don’t waste hours looking for items they have mislaid.  But the main benefits are emotional, as clients feel lighter, happier, more inspired and motivated.  When you walk into a decluttered area suddenly everything seems easier and fresher, and you feel freer to focus on the more important things in life.  My clients often enjoy showing off their new homes by asking people around for drinks or a meal, and their social lives expand.  Others have more time to spend on creative projects such as writing or painting and they feel more fulfilled.  People find that they get their lives back and feel renewed energy, rather than being depressed by the masses of clutter and carrying the ‘I really should tidy up’ feeling around with them.  That’s the problem with clutter you see, even though you may not feel motivated to clear it, some people can feel guilty that it is there, and beat themselves up mentally for hours on end.  Basically decluttering is a massive tonic and a fantastic stress buster for today’s rushed and pressured lives.

 

When people come to you, what can they expect?  Can you talk us through a typical decluttering project?

 Initially the client and I sit down for a consultation and go through everything they envisage and want from their new space.  If needed I may then offer ideas and suggestions for storage and effective placement of the furnishings they already have for example.  We will then tackle the clutter together by separating items into four piles, keep, trash, items to donate to charity and items to sell.  I will then arrange to dispose of some items, order a skip in some instances, have the donations collected or assist the client in selling items.   I might also go shopping for or with the client for items they need or want, to turn their space into the perfect place for them.  For example, when I do a wardrobe makeover we might find that a client needs certain new items to complete the wardrobe where everything now fits and suits them.  Every situation is different and depends on the clients needs but these are the typical steps.

 

You mentioned selling items, do you ever find things of value when you are decluttering?

 Absolutely, the financial aspect is another benefit with Brighter Life Decluttering Services.  We provide a professional valuation service for antiques and collectables and you would be surprised how many people have a small fortune hiding amongst the clutter in their homes.  But its not just antiques, general household items can bring in a tidy cash sum.  Often clients more than pay for my services by selling their unwanted items, and some have even started a regular income stream for themselves.  We will advise on selling at auction or car boot sale, and give lessons for selling on Ebay.  We can also sell items for clients if this is required.   

 

How long does the process generally take?

 This varies dramatically!  A typical medium sized room, office or wardrobe makeover can take between half a day or a whole day depending on the amount of clutter.  In some instances though, say where the clutter has taken over the whole house the process can take weeks or even months in large homes.  What I usually find is that for most clients, when I have shown them the process and they are confident that they can sort the clutte,r they can do a lot of the work themselves, and I am brought in for a couple of hours for consultation purposes.

 

Finally, do you have any tips for people reading this who might want to manage clutter in their own lives?

 The most important thing is to sort out effective storage for items so that everything has its place and is easy to find.  If you want to eliminate some clutter from your homes immediately a simple first step is to take two bags each day, fill one with items for the trash and one with items to donate or sell.  At the end of the week you will be 14 bags of items lighter and it takes hardly any time at all.  Also I like to remind clients of a quote by the great Arts and Crafts designer William Morris – ‘Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.