In case you missed the memo, decluttering is having a serious moment right now. Whether it’s binge-watching the Marie Kondo series on Netflix and implementing the Kon-Mari fold to every area of your life, or simply making a conscious effort to only keep things around the house that truly *spark joy*, the notion of living with less is really making its way into the mainstream.
But, is your partner on the same (neat, decluttered and perfectly folded) page as you? We caught up with professional organiser and decluttering expert, Jo Carmicheal of All Sorted Out to get her thoughts on why clear-outs are becoming ever-more popular, and how to deal if your partner insists that they find joy in a haphazard pile of unspecified papers.
In Jo’s opinion, decluttering has become a popular concept as we are living in a time of abundance—where a majority of the population is living amidst homes jam-packed with possessions. More of the world is wealthy enough to purchase more goods cheaply, with a growing income—so now that the world is cluttered from over-shopping, people are recognising the need to declutter.
Jo is of the opinion that decluttering reaps many benefits—based on wide research, she explains that studies have proven how clutter affects our anxiety levels, sleep, and ability to focus, while often also making us less productive.
While cupboards bursting open and papers overflowing may seem harmless enough, research shows disorganisation and clutter have a cumulative effect on our brains. Our brains like order and constant visual reminders of disorganisation drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus.
One of the biggest challenges in decluttering your space can be to get your partner on the same page as you. If they don’t see the value, it will be a whole lot harder to clear out in the first place and to maintain subsequent order. Here are Jo’s top tips:
Instead of being the enemy be the helping hand. Rather than getting frustrated with your partner, work together as a team to sort through their things together. Provide encouragement and reassurance—which will make the decluttering process a positive one for not only now, but into the future as well.
Help your partner narrow things down by keeping their things in areas delegated to them. Having a space limitation will not only help them understand what they can and cannot fit, it will also help them from overpopulating ‘off-limit’ areas of the home with their stuff. Having delegated areas will also help them and you feel better by knowing they have an area that’s all for them. For example, both partners need a set area to keep their bag, wallet, keys, phone etc, which is used when entering and exiting the house.
Give your partner a ‘think about it’ pile, start with baby steps so you don’t overwhelm them with decisions. Place items that they are unsure about into an area, like a box or on a shelf, and leave there for a set time‚ e.g. 2 weeks.
If they use these things or can make a decision on them— that is a positive outcome. Make a place for these used or sentimental items. Make an agreement that after the set time of 2 weeks, if the items are still unused or no longer needed, they can then be disposed of happily.
Remember to keep asking them, do you love it? Do you use it now? Keeping this front of mind whilst decluttering is integral to its success.
To ensure that the clutter doesn’t simply build-up again after a clear-out, Jo’s rules to live by include “making a place for things, and returning them to that place when we are finished using them to ensure that clutter is avoided. Don’t just put something down—put it away. Only buy things we truly need and discard things we don’t use, want or like.” Sounds simple enough!