“I often say my job is to help people lead meaningful lives in nurturing homes with less,” says Sally Flower. A Melbourne-based “home wellness coach,” Flower is one of just a handful of KonMari consultants in the world trained in the art of mindful decluttering (KonMari is the method coined by Japanese tidying virtuoso Marie Kondo).
Flower has built her own business, Home Sanctuary, on the idea that small changes to spaces and routines can have big benefits for our wellbeing as well as the environment. She says when faced with mundane we keep putting off even though we know they must be done, the best approach is by increments. Tackle the day in five-minute blocks – the time it takes to drink an espresso – and suddenly things look less overwhelming. (After all – five minutes a day is enough time to learn a language.)
We asked her to share some small acts that can help declutter your day.
Actually make the bed
Making your bed each morning isn’t just about tidiness – it’s a symbolic gesture.
“Making the bed makes the room feel so much better,” says Flower. “It really signifies the start of the day and getting into the bed signifies the end of the day. Those kind of daily rituals [can] help with our metabolism.”
Start with a to-do list
When you sit down at your desk in the morning, Flower recommends writing that day’s list of tasks. Prioritise them, then tick off as you knock them over.
“I’m a big advocate of getting what needs to be done out of your head and onto paper,” she says. “[Then] completing it and celebrating it.”
Declutter your inbox
Whether for personal or professional use, it’s worth treating your inbox as a pending in-tray. Once emails are dealt with or archived, they should be deleted.
“There is a lot of research to show we spend far too much time responding to emails and being reactive, rather than focusing on important tasks that are going to improve our career or grow our business,” says Flower. “If you can [clear your inbox] every morning over your cup of coffee before you start work, it can really improve your day.”
Sort your drawers
Even if your home is fairly organised, keeping it that way takes work. Flower recommends maintaining your space one drawer at a time. “If you’re kind of rushing around, your drawers of clothing, towels and linen can get sprawled everywhere. If you’ve got five minutes, refresh a drawer,” she says.
Tidy the fridge
While cooking, Flower often spends five minutes rearranging her fridge. “Look at what you’ve got in there and write a list of what you need to buy at the supermarket,” she says. Then arrange what’s already in there. Group products together (such as dairy, meats, condiments and fruit and vegetables), take eggs out of cartons, bring jars that need to be finished to the front, and wipe down trays.
Rearrange and dust your books
“People see books as friends because they’re quite intimate when you read them – it’s just you and the book,” says Flower. “[But because] a lot of people are very attached to them, they find decluttering them quite hard.”
Flower suggests taking the books off the shelf and dusting them, removing anything else that shouldn’t be there (“a bookshelf should only have books,”), and replacing the books with their spines lined up neatly.
Post an item for sale
Another niggling task that takes five minutes is selling your unwanted stuff on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
“All you need to do it take a photo of it, measure it and describe what it is,” says Flower. “You’re not just keeping that product out of landfill and sending it to a new home, it’s also helping you declutter and save money.”
Keep a journal
On the weekends, Flower writes in her journal while drinking her morning coffee. “You can just write for a few minutes – not whole pages,” she says. “Write what you’re grateful for, what’s making you happy and what’s making you upset. It’s a really good way to get out your emotions and carry on with the day.”
Tasks such as sewing a button, washing a stain, or repairing a broken toy can stack up and are easy to put off. But they often they only take a few minutes to do.
“[Completing these tasks] stops them from being overwhelming and means on your weekend and in your down time you actually can do things that you want to do,” she says. “So you’re not spending your weekends polishing the floors or doing your ironing.”
Wash your windows
Practitioners of feng shui are big advocates for washing windows. “That’s the way you see the world,” says Flower. “It’s a real way of bringing in energy and light into your home, which improves your home sanctuary.”
Connect with nature
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, somewhere with space, or in the middle of the city, Flower says spend five minutes in the morning grounding yourself in nature. Water your garden, pull out some weeds, or spray your indoor plants. “It’s a really nice way to start the day.”
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