Spring to de-clutter mode

ONE man's trash is another man's treasure – and spring is a great time to do a thorough de-clutter of all the stuff you don't use or have been hoarding forever. Donate it to a good cause or sell it and make some cash to buy that latest must-have gadget or put it towards a well-earned holiday at the end of the year.

Having said this, the thought of de-cluttering can send many of us into stress mode. That's where de-clutter spokeswoman for OLX, and author of the book Clear Your Clutter, Kate Emmerson, comes in.

"Physical clutter fills actual space in your life so you do not have to feel or think. It includes clothes, books, CDs, toys, appliances, magazines, tools, car parts, newspapers, documents, food, toiletries and anything else that you can see. And yet it has a dire impact on how you feel," Emmerson says.

She warns that it is insidious. "Clutter will take on a life force of its own if you let it," she says. "That one little messy corner in your room becomes two, then becomes the whole floor.

"A mildly untidy area becomes a space you loathe and is eventually a littered office with 10 years of unattended paperwork."

It can be a huge task so her book guides you gently through the process without letting you off the hook. Here are some tips from Emmerson:

ýFace your clutter demons

Before making any real progress, take stock about where you are at the moment and take a few minutes to complete a clutter assessment checklist as honestly as possible. This is your starting point, and will give a clear indication of where you are at so you can then decide where you wish to be.

Sit with a partner, friend or anyone with whom you feel safe who is able to shine a light on this challenging aspect of your life.

Another person can support you and encourage you to be more honest and thus gain the best outcome from this purpose.

When de-cluttering this three-part evaluation helps: Do I honestly love it? Is it really useful? And, does it add energy and value to my life?

ýBring on the boxes

You will need five boxes or bin bags, whichever you prefer. Allocate them categories in the following way:

Rubbish: This one is for all the stuff you are going to be throwing out.

Sell: This exciting box is to be filled with goodies that will generate cash. Emmerson recommends waiting until the end of the process before selling.

Recycling: This box is for items that need to be given to charity, recycled, or returned to their rightful owner.

Repairs: This is for any items that need fixing, altering or completing in some way.

Relocate: As you progress, you'll find things not in their rightful place. All things that belong somewhere else should be placed into the relocate box.

  • Like with like

Think about the concept of keeping "like things with like". Grouping items together so that things are more ordered in their placement is a very useful way to maintain a clutter-free environment. For example, keep your entire DVD collection together, medicines with medicines, linen with linen and plugs or batteries in the same drawer.

  • No mess morph

Use small containers or baskets to keep smaller items together and prevent "mess morph". Loads of smaller containers keep an area tidier for longer, making it easier to place things back in their home.

  • Music

If you find one particular area harder to tackle, choose music that will energise and "funk" up your mood. If the job is more contemplative, such as when you clear out your desk or books, then play more mindful, easygoing music. It can be a fun element to go through lots of your music and may even help you toss CDs that you will never listen to again.

  • Clear your Clutter by Kate Emmerson is published by Metz Press.