Hard Times

A friend of mine was once relating her time as a teenager, living in a convent boarding school.  Students took full part in the day-to-day upkeep of the convent, and for her, this meant being assigned various ‘domestic’ duties which kept everything shipshape.  Cleaning was a big part of this.

We’re talking about the 1950s, when cleaning materials for most were pretty basic – rough scrubbing brushes, blocks of hard soap if you were lucky.  The convent sisters were used to strict discipline, and this meant a regular routine of cleaning and dusting. 

We have an array of chemicals for cleaning today.  Back then, my friend was given one rough cloth and a bucket of water, not even any soap.  The sisters believed that regular cleaning required nothing more, and to a large extent, that’s true, if you have a lot of energetic people to do the work!

Nevertheless, it was a routine that she stuck to, all her life, and to my knowledge, she still cleans her home in this way.  ‘If you clean regularly,’ she says, ‘a damp cloth is all you need, to keep down the dust.’

It’s a good discipline, if you are able to cling to it, and I can honestly say it works, but it does take a lot of discipline. The plus side is, not buying cleaning products means you save money!

Getting Organised

This resource has been written by the Devon members of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (www.apdo-uk.co.uk)

How much have I to sort?

A useful assessment tool can be found at: www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding/assessment_tools.aspx#cir.

If you are rated at a 3 or 4 then you can start a sort with the tips below. If you are at a 5 or above then this may be the time to call an organiser for professional help to make identifiable progress.

Top tips

  • Focus on a specific area such as one room or one area of the room, for example: the wardrobe.  We meet lots of clients that have tried to take on the whole house at once and feel overwhelmed. Take one step at a time and prove to yourself what you can do.


  • Set a timer to set to work in a time frame that suits you.  A half hour start is usually a good idea. If you can put aside an hour then great.  In our experience it helps to segment the task into half hour or hour slots so you can see progress. Most of our sorting sessions are around 3 hours and that is with someone there to motivate you. On your own an hour is more realistic.


  • Make space for you and make sure that time is yours to focus on organising that space. Turn off the mobile. Schedule the time and make sure people know you are busy that morning or afternoon. Many of our clients give so much to other people it has been difficult for them to find the time to work on their own home and comfort.


  • Be kind to yourself.  This means that you should go with a comforting cup of tea in hand and have a reward for your efforts in mind. But it also means that you do not have to be harsh with yourself and throw everything out. We have found that reorganising and storing items well can make much more living space. However charity shops and recycling centres will be glad to receive what you no longer want or need.


  • Think of your requirements and needs so that your living space reflects who you are and your interests. Most of us don’t want to live in a minimalist magazine shot home.  However we do deserve a comfortable and functional home where we can have fun with friends and family. Our testimonials from happy clients tell us that rediscovering their living space is genuinely life enhancing.


Good luck with getting organised.  Let us know how you get on. 

If you need help getting started or finished do call one of us.