A 'clutter-free' home simply means every object adds value to the lives of the inhabitants in some way, either because it's useful - like a potato peeler, or because it's associated with a positive feeling - like a photo album.
Decluttering your home not only makes it easier to organise your possessions, the space feels calmer and more of a sanctuary, plus it is easier to clean. You also save time and money by knowing exactly what you own and where to find it. Once clutter is cleared, it leaves room for creativity so you could feel motivated to start new projects and achieve goals.
Have a plan of attack
Don't try to declutter your whole home in a week - you'll exhaust and overwhelm yourself. Declutter in bite-size chunks of between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. Divide a room into quadrants or focus on contained spaces such as a drawer, cupboard or shelf. Arm yourself with paper and a pen to make notes of 'actions' and designate rubbish, recycling and donation bags.
Start with 'storage' areas
Lofts, basements and garages are prime locations to stash something quickly to avoid dealing with it. If you’re serious about having a clear out, start with these areas first and then you'll have enough space to store things that you actually need.
Less is more
Take a good look at the furniture in your home. Does it fit properly or would you be better off with more space? It's easy to acquire excess furniture and then procrastinate over the decision to let it go. The British Heart Foundation offer a free collection service for your unwanted furniture.
Make a decision
Clutter is often a result of decision delay. It can be hard to decide what to do with some items and seem easier to pass them by, but by pushing through that challenge, that's how you will see real results.
Don't over attach
Remember that memories aren't in 'things', they are inside us instead. Of course, it is important to keep possessions which remind you of a loved one or a particular experience, but you don't need 50 of such things? Taking a photo can help you hold on to the special memories or meanings attached to objects without taking up much space at all - you'd be surprised at how much satisfaction you can get from a two-dimensional reproduction.
Complete the process
Have a plan for where your decluttered items are going to go and remove them from the home as soon as possible. Bag them up and don't second guess yourself by revisiting your old decisions. You can arrange a free collection of your donation bags from your home to a British Heart Foundation shop.
Sometimes the task of tackling decluttering on your own can feel overwhelming. Get family and friends involved to make it more enjoyable or enlist the help of a professional - they have the experience and ideas to help you make the most out of the space you have, the expertise to advise you on what to do with unwanted possessions and they can teach you to maintain the changes for good. You can find an accredited professional in your area through APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers).
Feeling inspired? Discover more of Kate's decluttering tips on her blog A Tidy Mind.
Find a local donation point