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  • Leah Cee

Decluttering - Holding Zones

*originally published in April 2020

As the entire world is catapulted into the unknown, it is very easy to feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety, fear, sadness and anger during what could be for most of us, the hardest and most testing of days.

For the time being, we don’t have control over our freedoms that we have been so luxuriously blessed with in the past. Many of us are now forced to spend more time than we could ever imagine, inside the walls of our homes. This is especially tough on the mind, body and soul, particularly for the more extroverted and social among us.

There is a light though. The one thing we can control is the physical space in which we reside. It may be a large house with many rooms, or it may be a small room, or even a section of a room. Whatever that space may be, you can now assert the control and make it a safe, comfortable sanctuary in which to ride out the ensuing storm of overwhelm outside.

Now that our focus is on being at home, there have been a myriad of posts and articles about getting jobs down around the house - one of them being decluttering. Decluttering and organising your space no matter how big or small, will help not only reduce the physical matter surrounding you, but it will allow your mind to settle and find some much needed inner calm. It’s actually never been a better time to start to release your pre-loved items.

There is a caveat though. Disposing of them has become just a wee bit more problematic with most charities putting a hold on accepting items in the midst of the pandemic.

So what can we do?

Well we can start by removing rubbish. To my knowledge, councils are still conducting their regular pickups of waste and recycling. A quick look at some council websites suggests that hard waste pickup can still be arranged. You are generally allowed two per year, but always best to check with your own council before you start piffing things onto the kerb.

With rubbish still being emptied, paperwork and cardboard can go in the recycling bin. For security purposes, shred your personal papers if you have a shredder at home. Before you do that though - consider keeping your paperwork if you've got arty kids who want scrap paper to draw or scribble on. Once your Picasso has done their thing, shred it and toss it to the recycling bin. You may have to do this covertly or risk a catastrophic meltdown.

I know this kind of goes against the grain of decluttering, but my hot tip is to establish a “holding zone” before you start. If possible somewhere out of sight - a cupboard, a shed, a garage, an attic, loft, or spare room. If that can’t be done, a few boxes or bags sealed and stacked neatly in a corner or some stackable plastic tubs could be covered with a sheet or tablecloth to “hide them”. Stick a nice photo-frame on top and voilà - a new piece of furniture! Don't despair - this is only temporary and you'll love your newly uncluttered spaces.

As you start decluttering, box or bag up any goods that can be donated and even separate them into kids stuff, homewares, adult clothes etc. Once the box or bag is full, seal it and label it. That saves anyone from deciding that maybe they do want to keep that gold lamé jacket after all. Put the box in your holding zone IF it can’t be donated straight away.

You could pop an ad on Marketplace or Freecycle to say you have a box of free stuff for kids, adults, whatever - and folk can come and collect it from your driveway, porch, verandah or front yard - contact-free. Consider it an essential service.

If you're chest deep amongst clothing during a wardrobe declutter, and you come across clothes that really can't be donated to charities, H&M and Zara have been accepting clothes and fabric that are too tatty to donate but still ok to recycle - and it keeps more stuff from going into landfill. Depending on your "holding zone" space, and if you're keen to donate your raggy fabrics to these retailers, keep them aside, bagged and labelled ready for dropoff when our world resumes to some kind of normality. And H&M give you a little discount voucher for your trouble.

Once charities begin to reopen - you are one step ahead of the game. Everything is boxed and ready to distribute to those less fortunate or to those who may find your bric-a-brac, clothing or homewares of more value than you do.

It really is a great time to declutter but make sure you have a system in place for the storage of your pre-loved stuff if you can’t get it out of your home immediately.

The best bit is that your spaces (with the exception of the "holding zone" will be uncluttered, ordered, cleaner and calm. Four of my most favourite words!

Enjoy the lightness of less stuff.

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