Today on the blog I’m very excited to announce a special collaboration post with the amazing and inspiring Claire – the Owner and Head Organiser of thetidylifeproject.com. If you’re not already following you should be. It’s an Edinburgh-based professional organising, decluttering and minimalism coaching company.
I’ve been a big fan of Claire since I first found her on Instagram (click here to follow) in early 2018 and now I’m honoured to have interviewed her for this latest post. Claire says ‘less really is more’ and that ‘beautifully organised, decluttered and environmentally friendly spaces help us all live our very best lives’ – a sentiment I do agree with.
Throughout 2018, Claire committed to decluttering 3,000 items from her home based on decluttering industry experts estimating that the average home has as many as 300,000 individual items in it. She documented her journey on her Instagram throughout the year so use the hashtag #project3000 to see her and other’s journey’s.
Claire also ran ‘The Tidy Life Challenge’ throughout August 2018 which included 3 daily tasks, each taking less than 5minutes to complete each that focused on cleaning, decluttering and self-care. She has since written up all the tasks on the blog so you can use it in January to set yourself off to a great start!
Read our interview below and let’s see what tips Claire has got to help us live more organised in 2019.
Thank you for joining me. First up, have you always been an organised person?
Absolutely not! I’m actually quite a messy person by nature. I lived abroad for a few years in my early 20s and could only afford to take a small suitcase with me. Eventually I realised that living with such a small amount of stuff and keeping it well organised was making me so much happier and calmer than I had been before.
What inspired you to create the #project3000 project? Did you ever struggle getting to that number?I moved back to my home city of Edinburgh a few years ago and was doing a well paid job and living in a far bigger house than my tiny Amsterdam studio or Paris bedsit! My old minimalist ways were slipping and I was getting fed up with how much stuff I had been mindlessly accumulating. When I read an estimate that the average house has as many as 300,000 items in it, I knew I wanted to radically declutter.
What inspired you to create and share the The Tidy Life Challenge?I love the Instagram community as a source of motivation and inspiration. As a professional organiser I get hundreds of messages from overwhelmed people whose homes are out of control. Not knowing where to begin is a common problem. I decided to show how you can get your home under control without it having to take hours of hard slog. Just completing a few 5 minute sessions of decluttering, cleaning or organising a day can make a huge difference to your home and your stress levels.
What’s the greatest satisfaction you get from doing what you do for a living?I had no idea just how much I would love this job! Some clients want “Pinterest pretty” organising solutions which is great fun and satisfies my creative tendencies, but by far the most satisfying jobs I do are the most difficult. I work with a lot of mental health cases, including hoarding disorder, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. Sometimes these projects last years and it is incredibly rewarding to build a relationship and friendship with the client and to get to see the transformation in not just their home but also in their mental health.
What’s the biggest challenge you believe people face when decluttering and how do they overcome it?People tend to look at the big picture and get overwhelmed. The more overwhelmed they become, the more their motivation fades away. I always recommend breaking the job down into bitesize chunks. Start by tackling socks for five minutes, or set yourself a target of finding five things to donate to the charity shop. When I work with clients I also recommend not starting at the hardest point. If you’re a fashionista, parting with clothes may be really hard. Build up decluttering momentum elsewhere before you tackle the really difficult tasks.
Do you believe there’s a link between decluttering / organising and mental health?Absolutely. Decluttering and organising your life isn’t a magic fix that cures mental health issues, but it can make a big difference. There have actually been scientific studies that prove that people have elevated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) when they think about their messy home. Getting organised also helps reduce those stressful moments in life when you can’t find your keys or that important report for work. We can all do with fewer of those stressful moments! I know from personal experience that I am a lot calmer and a lot happier now. My roommates would also tell you I’m much less snappy in the mornings!
What’s been the most rewarding experience or feedback you’ve received for thetidylifeproject?One client recently had family over for dinner for the first time in 25 years. It was a huge moment for her and we were both in tears! She had been too ashamed to let anyone into her home so it was a huge responsibility and honour for me that she trusted me to come in and work with her to declutter. I’m very British about accepting praise and tend to blush a lot when clients thank me but this is one occasion when I can be really proud that our teamwork has truly changed her life for the better.
If you could narrow organising, decluttering and minimalism down to a few simple rules, what would they be?
- Buy quality, not quantity. Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself. It is about having just enough and the best way to do that is to only buy things that you truly love or need and that you know will last a long time.
- A home for everything and everything in its home. I use the “one touch” rule which means that when I come home I only touch things once when putting them away. My coat gets hung up, my bag put away, shoes away, groceries unpacked immediately, mail sorted, etc. It saves a lot of time tidying up mess later if you put things in their home right away when you are done with them.
- If something in your home gives you negative feelings, let it go. Don’t hold onto gifts you don’t like because they make you feel guilty or mementoes from times in your life when you weren’t happy.
- Remember, you choose what you own. Having things in your house that you don’t really want or need because you have to get “your money’s worth” is the wrong way to think. Forgive yourself mistaken purchases and give yourself the gift of space by letting them go.
- Do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, I’m not a big fan of “rules” about how to organise, declutter or be minimalist. Everybody is different and comparing yourself to others is only going to leave you feeling bad. If you find something that works for you, stick with it!
What’s a few reasonable goals that anyone can achieve in January?Commit to spending a few minutes each weekend (or whenever you have free time) tackling some small organising jobs around the house. You could start by clearing out your junk drawer of any clutter, then organising it. You don’t have to buy expensive organisers, instead I recommend using things like old Tupperware boxes (the ones without lids that we all have lurking in our kitchen cupboards!) or fruit and vegetable trays to sort things like batteries or stationery by category. Next, try turning all the hangers backwards in your wardrobe. Whenever you wear an item, hang it up with the hanger facing outwards. After a few months or at the end of 2019 you can easily see what clothes you’re not wearing anymore and declutter them!Or, you can follow along with The Tidy Life Challenge on my Instagram, launching January 1st to help get 2019 off to a flying start!
What are your personal goals for 2019?I have a few major goals and a few silly ones. The major ones are to blog weekly, complete my second round of Project 3000 decluttering and to launch a litter picking version of Project 3000. I also want to focus on getting good schedules in place. My work hours are pretty erratic so I need to put in place some healthy routines to make sure I get enough sleep, find time to exercise and eat well. The silly ones are to get over my driving anxiety and learn to do a proper pushup!
Thank you for joining me!
You can follow claire using the below links (and I highly recommend you do!)