Professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn and her team help people create calm, relaxing spaces through decluttering; here she tells us where to begin the process…
When someone is beginning the process of decluttering, where should they start?
If you don’t know where to start, I always say start with your sock drawer, something simple to get you in the right headspace. You start something small, you work on it and then you stop so you get that feeling of completion. If you are overwhelmed by your home and you don’t have much time, keep chipping away and you will be surprised how much you can get through. (Put it off for another six months or have it completed way before then!) Start what you can complete in the time you have. If you are always successful in what you start it keeps you going. Once you have conquered your sock drawer, next day do a corner or a pile. Concentrate on one room first and complete that before you move on to the next one. Whilst on the phone do a bit of multi-tasking and empty a drawer out. Line the contents up and see if you have any doubles of anything – why have you got that many wooden spoons? Do you need four spatulas you never use? How much are you keeping ‘just in case’?
The main saying to get into your head if you are serious about living a life with less stuff is “can I live without this?”
How do you stay motivated when you’re faced with a mountain of ‘stuff’?
This is something myself and my assistants always discuss. We have this buzz of adrenalin which always seems to carry us through the day. The motivation is definitely knowing how happy the client will be at the end of the day. We leave with a buzz – and don’t get me wrong we sleep well but it’s like going to the gym – you feel great not deflated! For people decluttering themselves at home, stay motivated by always finishing on that high, completing what you start and don’t forget if you start a whole project like your wardrobe or kitchen it can take much longer than you may think. Truly do not underestimate it.
What are you most proud of in the work that you do?
The many times in which we help people get ahead on their journeys. The enormity of how much getting rid and getting organised can affect someone’s whole life. Helping someone who is feeling lost after a divorce or someone who is overwhelmed with a house move, someone who has lost a partner or loved one or is having their first baby and freaking out a little. There are so many people from so many walks of life who find our services so vital for their wellbeing. It’s the most rewarding job it really is.
Also creating a group of businesses which work so well together and are part of a bigger picture which gives people the head space they need in many ways. We now have:
You Need a PA
You Need A Nutritional Therapist
You Need An IT Guy
All ran by the most amazing people who absolutely love what they do.
How did you start in this work?
I was a PA (not only in offices but travelling) for around ten years and I realised the part of my job that my bosses reacted most highly to was when something was physically organised rather than just an organised schedule or admin. I suppose I latched onto this as it made me feel great too. When I felt I had done all I could in my career as a PA, I started my business and it very quickly took off. At the time there weren’t many Professional Organisers around so I feel even now like the timing was perfect.
What factors affect how a person thinks about their clutter?
There are so many factors that influence this. Sometimes just a simple conversation can switch how someone thinks and sometimes people need to get used to the feeling of letting go. A big blitz doesn’t work for everyone. People are so different in their thinking and each has an individual situation. Inherited items are often harder to let go of – or anything with any form of sentimental attachment – although I find that many people put the label of ‘sentimental’ on objects that just don’t deserve it (having an item for a long time doesn’t make it sentimental).
Do you think society as a whole is finally moving away from owning things to having experiences?
I really do. I think it’s a slow progression but it is, the more the subject is talked about and the more people read about it. In the last eight years I have been an organiser, I have seen the subject of living with less not only more in the media but I hear the subject being discussed far more. The years of being wasteful and living with so much excess surely has to change when you think that back in the 60s there was no such thing as public storage and now how many millions of square feet are there?!? And what are we paying for it each month?
What is your favourite room in your own home? Why?
This is a hard one – I love my home so much but I’m going to go with my bedroom. Everything has a place – I love getting ready in the mornings because everything really does have a place and I am never searching. My bedroom is stress-free, tranquil just how it should be. I thought about it a lot when I was designing the layout and choosing the colours. I chose a bed with absolutely no storage underneath so the option of storing more was taken away. Sleeping above clutter is not an option for me.
If you had only one totally bossing it tip to give our readers, what would it be?
It would be to keep the feeling of attachment for the items that actually deserve it and ditch anything in your life you can simply live without. Then enjoy the feeling of how free it feels!
I believe that most people in the UK could probably get rid of 50% of the items in their home and notice almost no difference to everyday life!