With our new normal of lockdowns, social distancing and self-isolating, most of us are spending more time at home.
There’s not a huge amount we can control in regards to coronavirus, but one thing we can do to make our lives as comfortable as possible is keep our home spaces clean and tidy. While there’s no pressure to do this if you don’t feel up to it, you might find it helps you to feel better – given your mind will have something to focus on and your body will be keeping active.
We spoke to decluttering expert and owner of You Need A Vicky, Vicky Silverthorn, to get her take on how home organising can help at this difficult time. Vicky has also shared some top tips on everything from creating flexible working space at home to decluttering when you can’t take items elsewhere.
Make room for a versatile ‘home office’
Many of us are now working from home and while some have an office space, others are having to get a bit more creative.
“If you are creating a home office, an obvious place is the dining table because you don’t need to go out and buy anything,” Vicky said.
“My suggestion would be that you clear out a cupboard somewhere or you designate a box so that at mealtimes and in the evenings, almost like a hot desk, it can be packed down and put away. It will probably need to be a versatile space still.”
Vicky suggests considering other space that could be made into an office.
“Even transforming a dressing table could work. If you’re doing that, make sure you pack up your work stuff and take it out of the bedroom at night. I’d advise against keeping a load of work stuff out while you sleep.
“The Futon Company sell beautiful, very basic white trays for fairly cheap. If you’re working from your bedroom, you can put office items like pens and notebooks on the tray so that at the end of the day you can just store that tray away,” Vicky advised.
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If you already have an office, get smart with the space
Vicky thinks it’s worth taking a look at your office desk and drawers and maybe re-organising in order to maximise the space’s potential.
“I think the key thing is not to worry about going out and buying excess storage – even clearing one shelf is very good,” she said.
“Maybe you can clear one book shelf in order to put paperwork on there – put a pile of books to the side and then you have one shelf that acts as a makeshift filing system.
“It’s a great opportunity to clear out desk drawers for the same reason. A lot of the time, there's so much spread out within desks and drawers that could be organised in a better fashion. Pull the contents out and do a bit of a categorisation and put it back more neatly – you’ll find you usually create a drawer’s worth more space,” Vicky suggested.
Vicky feels it’s important to note: you don’t need to worry about buying lots of new storage solutions at this time. However, it can be handy to have simple A4 box files to keep paperwork tidy.
“For an office it’s good to have simple box files so you can put things away at the end of the day, it’s not a complicated system,” she said.
“When you’re decluttering and organising the extras are often a visual addition – the home can store so much once you’ve decluttered. I wouldn’t recommend people buying things, but those office boxes would be good because people will be working from home.”
You don’t need to get rid of anything right now
For obvious reasons, now isn’t the right time to be taking items to the tip or the charity shop, but you can still declutter and store items you don’t want to keep in a safe place, ready to be removed from your home at a later date.
“Designate a small area within the home for items that will eventually go to the tip or be donated. Make sure it’s stacked neatly. If you have a garden or outside area it could be stored out there in a box or something rainproof,” Vicky said.
Try to keep up with your tidying routine
Vicky feels from her own experience self-isolating that retaining some normal routine is helpful, and that it’s so much nicer waking up to an organised environment, so she recommends tidying up each night if you can.
“I’d say it’s more important than ever to implement a good tidy up before the end of the day, rather than leaving things to the next day. Let's all use this time to get into a really great routine at home and pack away, tidy up, do the dishwasher, tidy the kids’ toys away fresh for the next day and get all those little bits done. Have that 20 minutes at the end of the day to make sure it’s done.
Want to give everyone in your house a bit of a boost, especially kids?
“Put some music on and everyone can join in with tidying up at the end of the day after dinner,” Vicky suggests.
Be sure to put your mental health first
While in the past we might have worried about our homes looking perfect ahead of guests visiting or for social media snaps, now the focus is about creating a comfortable space at a hard time, and hopefully clearing your head in the process.
“The fundamental basics of us all being in our homes, especially with families and people working from home, is to keep on top of it and keep in control of our spaces,” said Vicky.
“Being in control of your space, having things organised - and I'm not talking about necessarily colour coding and going to a different level - but knowing what you've got and not having excess everywhere is a total game-changer. It has a massive effect on well-being and how you feel within your space, without a doubt,” she added.
It’s important you don’t feel pressure to do this, though, if you’re not feeling quite up to organising and tidying.
“Think realistically, don’t think Instagram. Decluttering can be a fun and enjoyable thing to do – if you’re at home it’s a great, productive use of time. If you can do a little bit every day, that’s great. It will help keep your spirits and morale up,” Vicky said.
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