Special Nonexistent Furniture
25 July, 2014

Peter Walsh's 5 best decluttering tips

Don't miss The Living Room tonight (7.30pm, Ten) for a one hour declutter & decorate special with international expert Peter Walsh and our friend Barry Du Bois. We helped out with beautiful products for a family home in Sydney. We've picked the top 5 tips so far from Peter to get your started on your own decluttering journey.

I want to declutter my whole house but I don't know where to start. Should I do it room by room, and if so which room should come first?
OK, so if your whole house looks like a cyclone has hit you hard, then my advice is to start in any room that you think will be EASIEST. And, when you start, start easily too by getting rid of any rubbish, anything that is broken, or anything that doesn't belong in that room. Keep it simple – no hard decisions. Make that your assignment for the first day (and if you want to do more, by all means do). My theory is that sometimes the hardest part of getting organised is just starting. So, anything you think might trip you up or you're unsure whether to toss it, leave it for the next day. But, here's the deal – if you do this, then you have to commit to doing this EVERY DAY for at least a couple of weeks. Make a date with yourself. Put it in your diary. And, work room by room. But, get started.

Peter and Baz's challenge on The Living Room tonight.

We have pockets where clutter seems to gather and breed, such as the tray on the coffee table which is meant to be a stylish display but is just filled with junk. How do I keep it as I want it to be?
This may sound odd but the quickest way to avoid clutter accumulating – whether it's on your stylish coffee table or on the back seat of your car – is to stop using the word "later".  Clutter is decisions delayed and the moment you procrastinate: "I'll put that away later" or "I'll file that later" or "I'll sit that here and look at it later", that is moment when stuff starts to collect.  Stop saying "later" and I promise you your coffee table (and much more!) will stay clutter-free.

I have heard the maxim 'if it isn't useful or beautiful, throw it out.' Do you agree with that and do you have any other pieces of advice that are worth sticking on the fridge door?
The only things I think you should have in your home are those items that help you create the life you want.  Start with the vision you have for your life, your home, every room in your home and then ask yourself: Do the items in this room help me create the vision I have for this space?  If so, hold onto them.  If not, what are they doing in your home?

Part of Peter and Baz's challenge on The Living Room tonight.

How do I rid of stuff without upsetting my children? They become very suspicious when I start to tidy up their rooms!
You have to get them involved in the process. If you help them understand that there are lots of kids in the world who are not nearly as fortunate as we are, who could really use their old toys, then you'll find their generosity will overwhelm you. And, if that doesn't work, ask them to find just 5 things that they think only kids younger than themselves should play with and agree with them that maybe it's time to let those go. Also – take them with you to the donation centre and have them talk to the volunteers there so that they come to understand the nature and value of giving to those less fortunate than themselves.

My home is simply not big enough for all my stuff, no matter how organised I am. I'm tempted to get a storage unit for the overflow. Is this a good idea?
I'm not a fan of storage units for this kind of problem. Storage units should be used for temporary re-locations only. Unless you're prepared to move then you have to come to terms with the fact that you only have the space you have. Once you accept this as fact, you'll actually experience a freeing feeling. So, what do you do with all of the extra stuff you just can't part with? You need to ask yourself what is more important, personal happiness or this old rocking chair that's taking up space? I vote for happiness every time. It's hard but it's necessary. Ask anyone who has de-cluttered… they'll tell you that the process of letting go of some stuff was hard but I've never met anyone who has said the outcome wasn't worth it.

Find out more about Peter at his website, where you can find out more about his books, DVD and app and sign up for regular newsletters. 

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