Inside Out (Australia)
Decluttering expert Peter Walsh’s top five tips for organising your life and keeping it that way
Peter shares five steps to becoming a less cluttered and more organised person
Q Dear Peter, This whole ‘being organised’ thing… I’m convinced it has to be genetic. I love being organised, but for me it never seems to last. How do I stop clutter from building up? Charlotte, Richmond, Vic A Charlotte, let’s get the “was I born with it” question out of the way first. Some studies show there might be a gene associated with neatness, but there are also a few that say there’s not, so I’m not going to let you use that as an excuse. For me, being organised is like living a healthy lifestyle (getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well) – things you can control if you choose to. But it’s more than a choice, it’s committing to a way of life. I’ve learnt there are things that those who are more organised do regularly. If you adopt these traits, you’ll find that being organised will become second nature to you.
1. Adopt a mindfulness approach. Whether it’s a quick scan as you leave a room, looking for anything that might belong somewhere else, or not letting the laundry accumulate, there are small ways to be more aware and stay organised as you go. Get into the habit of being thoughtful and allowing yourself a little more time than planned. 2. Get in the habit of ‘finishing the cycle’. Eating a meal is about shopping, preparing, cooking, then cleaning up. Think about the term ‘finishing the cycle’; you’re not finished with the laundry if you leave wet clothes in the machine. To finish, you have to wash, dry, fold and put away your clothes. Anything less and you’re not finishing the cycle. Think more broadly about all the steps of your tasks, see them through to the end and you’ll begin to create a more orderly space around you. 3. Avoid an overly emotional attachment to things. Stuff has power, but how much power you give it is up to you. Things tend to represent times of your life that you cherish. What do you need to satisfy that feeling? Is keeping the entire suite of outdated, ugly bedroom furniture your grandparents left you the best way to remember them – or would one small item from the set do? Never forget, you’re supposed to love people and use things – not the other way around! 4. Realise shopping isn’t a substitute for strong, healthy relationships. If shopping has taken a central focus in your life, you’re being manipulated by advertisers to acquire more stuff, most of which you don’t need. Find other ways of making yourself happy that don’t require bringing lots of new objects into your home. 5. Take a long-term view of happiness. Being organised requires doing something every day. On some days, it’s really big (like organising your closet), but for most, it simply requires you to do something smaller. I think being happy is the same thing. You must work toward the goal of happiness every single day. If you’re not doing that, you’re just floating along. I’m in favour of taking a little control of your pursuit of happiness. You may think I’m crazy, but I believe a little bit of organisation goes a long way toward being happy. Give it a try, then tell me if I’m wrong!