Q&A (9): Is there such a thing as authentic de-cluttering?

Dear Sarah,

My family and I have just moved into a new home. We didn't have time to sort through all our stuff before we left our last one so we have brought everything with us! The problem is that my husband and I and my children all have different ideas on what needs to stay or go and I am feeling weary just thinking about it all. Part of me wants to take everything off to the charity shop or the dump but I know that probably isn't the answer. I want to have things in the house that are useful but also authentic to who we are as a family. That's hard when we don't agree. Is there such a thing as authentic de-cluttering? And if so, where do I start?

Love Anne*

Dear Anne,

My sympathies are with you. We have been in our house 4 years and we are only just having the BIG clear out now! Marie Kondo is causing a stir with her tips on de-cluttering. You could start with her book or check out the many articles about her approach online. I'm not following her by the book but I do like her phrase, "does it bring me joy?" - it is a good test when you are thinking about whether to keep something or not.

It can be hard when you have differing opinions in the family. It might help to give everyone responsibility for their own areas. Anything they are unsure about - can go in a pile that is put away and if they don't miss it after 6 months - it goes! Also - if the children get an opportunity to sell their stuff at a car boot sale or on eBay - that might be an incentive. They can earn money to pay for something they really want. It helps to listen to any objections and hear why people really love something. Help them to talk through why it is really necessary or gives joy.

Below is an interview I did with my friends Karen Lowe and Alex Bollag about this whole topic of de-cluttering. We run events in Bristol called Be Fab Bristol and this was a podcast for that but I hope you might find the content helpful. I certainly found their tips useful.

Happy sorting. I'm in the middle of the process now and I have to say - it feels so great when a room is complete. So keep going - it is worth it.

Love Sarah x

*Name has been changed.

Do you have any tips on how to de-clutter both effectively and authentically? If so please use the comment section below. And don't forget, if you have a question about how to live, love or lead more authentically then use the contact form here and we will try to include it in a future Q&A. If we use your question we will send you a free copy of my book "Inside Out – how to have authentic relationships with everyone in your life"