Our homes can feel so full of clutter that it overwhelms us and we give up before we have even started. I remind my clients of the old proverb “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. If we break the mammoth task of decluttering our homes into small parts and baby steps we can make it seem possible. To find those baby steps I developed the Stop, Focus, Notice strategy.
An example of Stop, Focus, Notice in action is the common issue of everyday clutter accumulating on kitchen benches when people come home from work or school.
Everyone arrives home and dumps their stuff in the first place they see. In our home that used to be our kitchen island bench. I used to get so frustrated that when I went to cook dinner, I had no food preparation space as the island bench as covered in mail, handbags, hats, keys and things from my farmer husband’s pockets.
I would get angry and upset and yell at everyone to come and clear their stuff off the bench. Then the next day I would do the same thing. Then I stopped. I focused and watched what was happening when we arrived home. I observed how people moved in our home. I noticed that there wasn’t an easy option or designated space for where things should go. I spoke to my family about how I was feeling.
Then I noticed some options for changing this problem. My husband walks in our back door and the first thing he sees is the side of the cutlery drawer cupboard so I put four hat hooks on the side for him to hang up his hat (saving it from ending up on the kitchen bench). It also means it is next to the back door when he enters and leaves.
Set your home up for your family, not your visitors
While he is hanging up his hat I realised the closest space to him was our cutlery drawer so I changed our top cutlery drawer into his ‘launchpad/junk drawer’. He can open that drawer and put everything from his pockets in the drawer. It also holds the farm related mail that he needs to sort through, again getting it off the kitchen bench.
It does mean that our cutlery drawer is now the second drawer down which confuses visitors when they are looking for a knife or fork. But I believe we should set our homes up for our families who use spaces 95% of the time rather than for our visitors. It is now a habit that our family automatically opens the second drawer when we need cutlery.
I also decluttered a drawer in our island bench and our dining room sideboard buffet. My handbag goes in the top drawer of the island bench when I come home from work and my kids can put their school bags straight in the buffet cupboards. I explained the new strategy to everyone and now when we come home everyone knows where everything goes and there is a place for everything and everything goes in its place.
What is something you can stop, focus and notice in your home? A year from now, you will wish you had just stopped, focused, noticed and made a change today!
Declutter Coach & Life Organiser at Be Simply Free
Bridget Johns is a farmer’s wife, mother of two and Declutter Coach & Life Organiser. Through her business, Be Simply Free, she empowers women to create lives where their homes and minds are uncluttered so they can be simply free.