It’s a familiar scene. You’re standing in front of your wardrobe trying to find that one jumper you know is there somewhere. But among the mountain of clothes you haven’t worn for years, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack! ‘I really must have a sort out’ you say to yourself. But as the haystack grows, you start to panic about where to even begin.
Vicky Silverthorn sees this scenario every day in her job as a professional declutterer helping people organise their homes around their hectic schedules. But, Vicky, says, sorting out your home doesn’t have to be complicated or even a chore. In fact, it’s so simple, she’s now written a book, Start With Your Sock Drawer, packed with her straight-forward wisdom of how to have a more organised home – something she says is crucial for our wellbeing. And, as the book title suggests, it all begins with a rummage through your socks.
“I think everyone gets overwhelmed with the idea of decluttering as they see it as sorting out their life or their whole house,” says Vicky. “But I suggest taking it back to a tiny area, such as your sock drawer, that will give you the tidying buzz. “Walk over to your sock drawer and before you’ve thought about it, empty it out. Get rid of the old, mismatched stuff until you’ve gathered a good enough number of paired socks that you need for daily life. “It’ll take no more than 20 minutes and in the morning you’ll get a great feeling when you see how tidy that drawer looks.”
The idea is that from these little acorns of your sock drawer, you’ll then get the impetus to tackle your knicker drawer, your pile of CDs or perhaps your kitchen cupboards. The key, however, is take the approach of little and often.“It’s easy to get carried away and try to sort everything in one night, but you have to keep your energy levels high and do it properly so I’d aim for just one 20-minute task a night.”
So far, so simple, yes? But, obviously chucking away a few threadbare socks isn’t quite the same as bringing yourself to sort out a wardrobe heaving with memories or heirloom homeware that you’ve gathered over decades. “When you’ve got loads of things ¬– and you feel like you’re looking at your life in stuff in front of you – you have to ask yourself ‘Is it going to make any difference to my daily life if I get rid of this item? Will giving it to someone who’ll enjoy it impact me negatively?’ If the answer’s no, get rid.
“Don’t suddenly chuck everything at once, but try one or two items and see how you feel. It’s about putting the importance of life and people over the importance of stuff.” Vicky learned this lesson more than ever when she had to clear out her mother’s home after she sadly passed away. “I learned that the clothes weren’t my mum and keeping her things wasn’t going to bring her back,” she says. “Having all her wardrobe in my home would be a hindrance, so instead I just kept a couple of her cardigans which bring me so much happiness when I see them in the wardrobe. I’ve turned a possibly negative emotion into a positive one.”
It’s a similar idea with those items that make us feel guilty. “If you see something you bought but have never worn, accept the feeling of guilt. Say ‘yes I was silly for wasting money on that’ and then let it go and learn from it. The guilt of letting go will be replaced by a great feeling of freshness.”Over time, this change of attitude should also feed into your shopping habits''.
“Once you’ve decluttered, acknowledge how much easier everything is,” says Vicky. “Then hold onto that thought when you’re next in the shops and your arms are draped with purchases. Walk round the shop for ten minutes and I bet you look down at your arms and think ‘what am I doing?’
The buzz of getting rid and having a tidy home lasts so much longer than the buzz of buying. ”And once you get used to these changes, Vicky says it’ll become second nature. “As you work your way through your home and keep revisiting spots, you’ll start to tidy without thinking. “It’s like starting a healthy-eating regime, eventually it changes your life to the point where it’s not an effort and you actually enjoy it.”
- Start With Your Sock Drawer, by Vicky Silverthorn, is out now, rrp £12.99. We have five copies to give away. Send a postcard marked Start With Your Sock Drawer to PO Box 57, Coates, PE7 2FF by January 20. If you don’t wish to receive further information from Yours, write No Further Contact on your card.