Life & Style | General

What kind of cluttermonger are you?

Alice looks at row upon row of lotions and potions in her bathroom, while Deepak doesn't know what to do about the ever-growing pile of newspapers in his study, and Reshma has baby clothes in the loft - even though her children are in their teens. Sound familiar? Christine Fieldhouse helps you clear the clutter.

  • By Beverly Wade, Special to Friday
  • Published: 00:00 July 20, 2012
  • Friday

Cluttermonger
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • We all have stuff we are reluctant to discard

We all have our own personal clutter that we can't part with or sort out, for whatever reason. We surround ourselves with it and promise that we'll get round to looking through it all one day, but years can pass before we're ready to tackle our mountain of belongings.

In the meantime, it brings our energy down and we can feel deflated every time we see it, because it's a permanent reminder of yet another job we haven't done.

But according to decluttering expert Beverly Wade, there are several types of cluttermongers and she has specific strategies tailored for each category.

The paper hoarder

This person has piles of newspapers, magazines, reports, books, leaflets, even restaurant menus all over the house. They pick up any paper they can - from sports centre opening times to flyers for new windows - and they keep them, just in case they ever need them.

The problem is important documents like bank statements and bills get mixed in with these piles of paper and are often lost. The hoarder spends hours every week frantically searching for the children's school letters or the electricity bill that needs paying urgently.

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Beverly's tips:

Say no to any offers of free newspapers, and leaflets that you're offered. If you read a free newspaper, put it in the recycling bin after reading.

Have a shredder and/or a recycling bag handy and get rid of junk mail as soon as it arrives.

Have specific places for documents - for example, a file for bank statements and one for the children's school letters. Tidy them out regularly and keep them in the same place.

The career girl or guy

Because they usually have disposable income, career girl or guy will over-buy, but they're often too busy to throw their old things out. They buy the latest mobile phone, computer, watch, briefcase, handbag and suitcase. If they see something that's fun, they snap it up. They work long hours so they don't spend much time at home.

They travel regularly and their home is full of half-emptied suitcases and shampoos and skincare products that they've bought for their business trip, having forgotten that they already have several at home. If they don't get their dry cleaning or laundry done, they just go out and buy new clothes!

Beverly's tips:

Get a housekeeper, a gardener, a cleaner or just someone to do your ironing. If your home is tidy, you may want to spend more time there, rather than just going back there to sleep.

If you travel often, don't even take your suitcase to your bedroom when you get back from a trip. Do the washing immediately and put your clothes back in the case ready for your next trip.

Keep a toilet bag for trips with travel-sized shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, toothpastes and moisturisers. This will save you buying new toiletries every time you go away.

The sentimental soul

When you lose someone you love, it's natural to want to hold on to some of their possessions, and if you've had good times in the past, it's normal to keep the odd souvenir.

Many sentimental souls have cleared the home of a deceased parent or grandparent and they find it hard to throw out their loved one's crockery, glasses, ornaments, photographs and other bric-a-brac. They feel disloyal about disposing of items that once gave great pleasure.

People who are overly sentimental will hold on to everything, from the soaps they brought back from their summer holidays every year throughout the Seventies to the records they used to dance to when they first met their partner 40 years ago.

Beverly's tips:

If you have inherited something you love, display it. Put beautiful paintings up, frame photos and have a display cabinet for lovely ornaments.

Create a memory box for birthday cards, jewellery, badges, certificates, perfume, a piece of fabric, photographs - anything that reminds you of the person you've lost or the holidays you once enjoyed.

If your loved one has left a collection that you have no great interest in, such as teapots or tennis trophies, keep one for yourself, then give the others to the deceased person's friends, or to a charity shop that has some significance for the person whose items they were.

When you have been ill for more than a few days, and been concentrating on your health and doctor and hospital appointments, clutter can build up quickly. Post will have accumulated, clothes won't have been washed and ironed, the recycling won't have been put out for collection and your home probably won't be in any kind of order.

Beverly's tips:

Deal with the most important things first. Make sure you have a diary or calendar with your hospital or doctor appointments written down. Be organised about medicines so you don't run out and know what you need to take.

Accept any offers of support. Friends will want to help so ask them to gather up your old newspapers and take them for recycling, or go through your cupboards and throw out any out-of-date food. If you're offered counselling, or to have your meals delivered to your home, say ‘yes please'.

If you can afford it, hire a declutterer to help you get your home and life sorted so you can move forward. This will lift your spirits and make you feel more in control of your life.

The messy mum or dad

If you have young children, your home will probably be full of toys and bulky equipment, such as prams, strollers, highchairs and baby seats. Throw in the extra laundry, birthday and Christmas presents and enormous bags of nappies, and you'll feel every space in your home is taken up.

It will seem like you never get a minute to sort through your post, laundry, nursery information, bills and clothes and more things will arrive into your home every day, leaving you feeling overwhelmed by your home and your lifestyle.

Beverly's tips:

Don't keep every single item your baby once wore - keep the ones you have special memories of, or the ones you love, such as the pretty floral dress, or the cute striped dungarees, and store them in a memory box.

Teach children about tidy-up time young. At the end of every day, if not every play, get them to clear away. Have special boxes for different things, marked with a picture, so they know where to put things.

Instead of buying bulky presents such as ride-on tractors and dolls prams, suggest to family and friends they give your child an experience for their birthday or Christmas, such as a trip to the zoo or a cinema voucher. That way you might avoid getting four huge toy dumper trucks and three dolls' pushchairs!

The convalescent

If you have young children, your home will probably be full of toys and bulky equipment, such as prams, strollers, high chairs and baby seats. Throw in the extra laundry, birthday and Christmas presents and enormous bags of nappies, and you'll feel every space in your home is taken up.

It will seem like you never get a minute to sort through your post, laundry, nursery information, bills and clothes and more things will arrive into your home every day, leaving you feeling overwhelmed.

Beverly's tips:

Don't keep every single item your baby once wore - keep the clothes you have special memories of, or the ones you love, such as the pretty floral dress, or the cute striped dungarees, and store them in a memory box.

Teach children about tidy-up time from a young age. At the end of every day, if not every play, get them to clear away their toys. Have special boxes for different things, marked with appropriate pictures, so they know where to put things.

Instead of buying bulky presents such as ride-on tractors and dolls' prams, suggest to family and friends they give your child an experience for their birthday, such as a trip to the zoo or a cinema voucher. That way you might avoid getting four huge toy dumper trucks and three dolls' pushchairs!

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