An expert who runs a business helping people to declutter their homes has spoken of how difficult it can be to get rid of possessions, CheshireLive reports. Sian Pelleschi – who is the founder and owner of Sorted! – is on the board for the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO), which is holding its conference in Manchester for the first time this May.
This week, a report revealed that the average UK home loses 50 square ft of space to mess. Commissioned by Homebase, it found that a quarter of Brits admitted their homes were cluttered. And more than a fifth said a messy house contributes to low mood and anxiety.
Sian, who is based in Stockport, Cheshire, said: “We are dealing with people and their lives and traumas. They’re finding issues with hoarding and they vary from level to level.
“Hoarding behaviour is a mental health disorder, in its extreme cases it can be quite horrendous for people living in that situation because they’re surrounded by things. Quite often hoarding behaviour is triggered by some tragedy or something where they’ve had a situation that’s been a negative in their life. Some kind of trauma.
“People hold onto things – sometimes because it’s sentimental or monetary value. We live in a world where we can easily access things quickly. When someone has something that could possibly be of use they don’t want to let it go.
“You can’t really answer how long you should onto something for. When you’re looking at somebody’s belongings you have to look at what it means to them.
“You have to ask them do they need all this stuff around them and why they’ve got it in the first place. That’s how you get someone to assess their belongings and they appreciate what they need to keep.”
She continued: “Sometimes people buy more storage but what they need is to assess it better and reconfigure what they’ve got already. If you’re lacking in space sometimes you have to let things go that you might not want to that perhaps you could use. When you’re looking at what you’ve got – you need to ask ‘If I needed to replace this, can I do it easily?’
“But if it’s something that can’t be replaced or will cost a lot of money to replace, you need to find a place for it in your home. Bereavement is a big issue and you can get lumbered with someone’s belongings. It can encompass the home.”
She said the number of members of APDO has increased massively since lockdown. It’s partly as a result of people changing career, not that people are becoming messier, she adds. Tidying up can also cause a range of different emotions, from panic to guilt, from regret to indecision, which explains why many people choose to avoid it.
Some top tips to declutter your home are:
- Focus on one area at a time – this will stop you from being overwhelmed
- Work in short chunks of time – 18-minute periods have been suggested to the be optimum time
- Do not keep things ‘just in case’ – paperwork should only be kept for two years, six for business documents, says Sian. She also recommends to keep important paperwork such as birth certificates in water and fireproof containers
- Let go of items when you do not use them, even if you have spent money on them. Sian suggests giving yourself a set amount of time to use the item, or let it go and move on
Hoarding disorder is a real illness, which affects one to two people in every 100, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The NHS website states that unless the issue is tackled, it will “probably never go away”.
Sian said to the Mirror : “It’s a serious matter – affecting people both mentally and physically. If you’re struggling, contact a qualified professional at findanorganiser.co.uk or hoardingdisordersuk.org.”