Magic Tidying – Decluttering’s not just for Spring

Have been in major decluttering mode lately (interspersed with a trip to Belfast where I injured my toe.  But rest assured, this is a toe-free blog.  I can’t bear blogs about minor ailments.  BTW did I mention my toe still really hurts?)

In Ireland we talk about doing a Magic Tidy – i.e. a clear up where everything disappears.  Unfortunately you have to do more than wave a wand to make it happen.  The main side-effect of all this stuffjunking has been a correspondingly magical energy boost.  Our inner world mirrors our outer world, so when you improve your environment you will feel better internally too.

The article below is all about taking a holistic approach to decluttering.  It was originally written for Fitness First’s magazine a few years ago.  And if you want to read more on the subject, I highly recommend Karen Kingston’s Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.  Don’t be put off by the title if feng shui isn’t for you – it’s not all about waving a feather and going dingaling at the moon.  Most importantly, it explains the psychological reasons why we hang on to too much stuff.  I read it and immediately dumped about 5 binbags of stuff.  Unfortunately they managed to creep back in, hence the recent activity.

Here’s the full article, hope it’s useful to you:


Hands up those of you who resolved at the start of the year to become a serene, clutter-free oasis of calm.   And now you’re coming home to find that the clutter’s still so bad you want to turn round and go back out again?  Well, the good news is you’re not alone, and it’s not too late to do something about it.  Now’s the time to blitz your surroundings and chuck out all the junk that’s been building up all year.

Maybe you’ve been on holiday and got a taste for the simpler life.  Or perhaps you’re about to jet off and want to create a clean and welcoming space to come back to.

And why stop at your surroundings?  If you dump the junk in every area of your life you’ll feel lighter, more energetic and raring to go, whatever the weather.


It’s also unfinished business, excess stuff hanging around draining your energy and not contributing to your general wellbeing.  A bit like excess body weight in fact.

As a life coach, I regularly find that overweight clients also have homes that are overweight with clutter.  The upside to this is that losing clutter is much easier than losing weight.  And the results can be seen and felt instantly.  After all, it may take several weeks to experience a noticeable weight loss, but you can lose an awful lot of clutter in as little as 10 minutes.  Clearing your clutter is a very big signal to yourself and the world that you’re starting afresh.  A streamlined home and lifestyle will help to clear the way for a streamlined body.

I once had a client who had recently been made redundant.  He was looking forward to starting a new business, but his home was stuffed to the gills with paperwork relating to his previous job.  Every day new magazines would arrive to add to the mess – they weren’t relevant to his life now, but he’d never gotten round to cancelling the subscriptions.  And his business plans were getting stuck too – there was no room for new work to come into his life until he’d cleared the clutter of the old stuff.  The clutter was literally keeping him stuck in the past.  As soon as he cleared it, business success flowed.

We all create a certain amount of mental and physical clutter on a daily basis, which leaves a residue in our homes in the same way as everyday living creates cleaning and tidying which needs to be done on a physical level.  In other words, it’s not just about you being a mess magnet – dealing with clutter is a normal part of life.  So how do we tackle the various types of clutter that can accumulate in our lives?


If you can’t open the door for piles of unread newspapers and your kitchen cupboards are dusty with food that was fresh when Pete Waterman was a lad, it’s definitely time for a clear out.  But where do you start?

As much as possible, everything in your home should pass the 100 watt lightbulb test.  That is, does it light up your life like a bright light?  Take a moment to look at the objects around you and register the feeling they ignite in your heart.  Do they lift you up or drag you down?  If they drag you down, what are they doing in your life?  Having a lot of stuff which reminds you of the past can keep your thoughts and energies in the past.  Surround yourself with things that are a reflection of who you are now and who you want to be in the future.

It’s also a good idea to:

  • Start small.  Break down the task until it becomes more manageable.  If you have a large space to clear, set yourself the target of completely clearing just one small corner.  This small victory will encourage you to do more.   Even 5 minutes’ worth of clearing will make a big impact if done regularly.
  • Start with the mess you can see.  Once this is sorted, then start dealing with the hidden mess in cupboards etc.
  • Enlist the support of others.  Have a decluttering party.  Sometimes friends can be more objective about stuff to get rid of. Or hire a life coach who will be able to support you through this.
  • Have a general rule that when you buy something new, something old has to go.  This will help the clutter stop reappearing.


It’s also worth thinking about what sort of clutter you’re holding on to and why.  Do you have clothes that are too big for you?  Getting rid of them could be a very powerful statement that you’re not going to get that big again.  Experts estimate that we wear only 20% of our clothing 80% of the time, so we all have surplus.  To declutter your wardrobe:

  • Divide your clothes into 3 piles: i.e. keep, give to charity, mend.  If you haven’t worn it in over a year, get rid of it.
  • And if you haven’t dealt with the repair pile after two weeks, chuck them as well.  Seriously, when did you last darn a sock?
  •   You’ll get a warm glow from all your new friends at the local charity shop when you donate your cast-offs.
  • Get rid of anything that’s too big or too small for you.  Do you really plan to be that big again?  And if you dropped a dress size, wouldn’t you be buying some new stuff to celebrate?


Clearing clutter extends beyond streamlining your possessions.  Clutter goes deeper than your surroundings, and sometimes a mental clear out can have the biggest effect of all.  This can include:

  • Letting go of people and relationships in your life who drain your energy.
  • Saying no more often.  Say it till your tongue bleeds.
  • Swapping the things you feel you “should” do for the things you want to do
  • Do less passive stuff like watching TV and do more things you love.  Go outside and enjoy the sunshine as much as you can.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I doing that I don’t want to?
  • Which areas do I want to change?
  • What will happen if I don’t change?
  • What will it mean to my life to clear this clutter?

I guess in an ideal world we’d all have nothing in our houses that we don’t love or use regularly.  But life for most of us isn’t like that (at least nobody’s told my kids).  But if you follow some of these suggestions, you’ll be in the fast track to a more streamlined life.