We begged professional organiser Sarah Reynolds for a beginner's guide to spring-cleaning...
What is it about the New Year that makes us urgently want to shed those extra layers of detritus that built up in our homes over winter? You start taking down the Christmas decorations and then you just suddenly can't stop. But every time we try to deal with our excess mess, we somehow end up surrounded by piles of clutter, slightly baffled, wondering where to start.
Enter Sarah Reynolds, owner of professional organising and decluttering company Organised Chaos. As a bona fide tidying expert, Sarah knows that having a more organised home drastically reduces the amount of cleaning you have to do all year round, as well as making the annual spring clear-out significantly less painful.
Here are Sarah's six top tips for how to get a more organised home:
1. Be vigilant. The golden rule of organising is to always keep your flat surfaces clear. This doesn't mean they need to be totally empty, but continually clear off stuff that's not supposed to be there. And don't forget your biggest flat surface is your floor – don't let clutter invade your floor space.
2. Compartmentalise. Paper is one of the hardest things to organise and to keep organised. Don't let it seep into all of your drawers and storage spaces; keep paperwork for the home and the family in one designated spot.
3. Work in stages. Before you tackle any clutter, start with a surface clean-up. If you're sorting out the wardrobe, make sure the bed is made and the room tidy. If you're dealing with a kitchen cabinet, wash the dishes and clean the counters. Pulling out clutter onto an existing mess will make the job at hand look worse than it actually is.
Hallway organisation ideas from The Merrythought blog
4. Stay focused. When you are organising any space in your home, stay focused on the room at hand. Don't zig-zag back and forth relocating items that don't belong - this will make the job take twice as long and you're more likely to get distracted in the other rooms! Stay where you are and make a bundle of items that belong elsewhere just at the door. At the end, you can take that bundle and redistribute the items.
5. Start small. You'll be amazed at how much better your wardrobe rail looks just by removing old, broken or empty hangers!
6. Get yourself a good label maker! We all need to bring a little fun into the cleaning process. If you get a kick out of labelling things, it'll ensure that you (and more importantly, the rest of the family) won't forget what goes where.