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Is decluttering your home the ultimate life-hack? by Rebekah Holmes

How spending time on creating simple systems at home could be the greatest time-saver of them all.


The ultimate in luxury.

The one thing we all want more of.

A precious gem that money cannot buy.

As a mum and a business-owner, I find myself often wishing for more time. Where did that day go? I just need a couple of minutes to finish this! Hurry, hurry, hurry – we are going to be late. Even though my bread and butter is organising people’s homes, I’m not immune to Rushing Women’s Syndrome – but I do know how to minimise its impact on my life. And the answer to that is in creating simple household systems that my whole family can follow.

The first step is decluttering. I don't mean the big whole-house makeover that we see in an episode of Hoarders, because the benefits of that kind of overhaul are obvious. And while it's fascinating to watch, it is not relatable for the majority of people. The kind of decluttering I'm talking about right now is the everyday clutter - that stuff that comes in on a daily basis that we don't deal with, and the high-traffic spaces that are in disarray and regularly cause micro-frustrations. My belief is that if we deal with THAT clutter, and organise THOSE spaces, we are able to unlock snatches of time every day that really add up over the course of a week, a month and a year. Time, my friends - we can have more time!

Back to the clutter issue. Tolerance to clutter is a sliding scale and everyone is different - so as far as I am concerned, there is no hard and fast rule about how much clutter a home "is allowed to have". Some people find it cosy to be surrounded by their memories and treasures, others find it claustrophobic. I personally sit somewhere in the middle; I love my things and I enjoy seeing them on a daily basis, but I need to have work surfaces (like the bench) and communal spaces (like the dining room and lounge) clear so I can work quickly and efficiently at meal-times and then relax at the end of the day. So for me, the key to staying ahead of my own personal level of clutter tolerance is to have simple systems for those high-traffic areas.

Examples of simple systems in my home (that you can introduce to your home!) are:

  • A basket for recycling that lives in our kitchen. This stops recycling from accumulating on the bench, and means when it is time to take the recycling to the wheelie bin outside, anyone in our home can make one trip with the basket rather than several trips carrying individual items. The recycling basket is a work-horse - it keeps the bench clear of clutter, AND because it is simple even my 3-year-old can carry the basket out when the time comes. Potential time-saving: 3 minutes per day.

  • A bag and shoe zone. We have an area by the entrance to the home where schoolbags, work-bags and handbags go. It stops them from coming further into the house and winding up on the dining room table, or dumped on the floor in the lounge. Because everyone knows where the bags and shoes live, they can all take responsibility for putting them away as soon as they come home. Potential time-saving: 2 minutes per day.

  • An organised pantry. This one is a biggie and will take a bit of time to achieve, but I promise you that an organised pantry is the gift that keeps on giving. Meal preparation is faster because you can easily find everything. Food wastage is lower because you no longer "lose" food in the pantry. Grocery shopping - from list making to putting the groceries away - is faster because at a glance you can see what you need, and where it belongs. Family members can find their own snacks - no more "Muummmmmm what can I have to eat?" Potential time-saving: at least 5 minutes per day.

I estimate that these three simple systems save me around 10 minutes, every day. That's 70 minutes a week... or 4.6 hours a month... or 56 hours a year. 56 HOURS! And that, my friends, is how decluttering could be the ultimate life-hack - establish simple household systems that deal with clutter, and you'll unlock more time to spend on the things that are most important in your life.


Rebekah Holmes is a professional organiser and decluttering coach. She specialises in family-friendly solutions and promises a fun-first, judgement-free and results-focused decluttering experience. You can follow her at The Ship Shape Shoppe on Instagram

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