Getting your home organized is no easy feat, and ensuring it stays that way can be even harder. This is especially so when family or children come into the picture.
To help you in your decluttering and organizing journey, we turned to a professional organizer in Singapore, Nathalie Ricaud, who has been dubbed as “Singapore’s answer to Marie Kondo” by Sassy Mama.
She shares with us her best tidying up tips in response to your queries we gathered previously on our Instagram stories. From setting up an organizing system for your home, to organizing your kitchen, a toddler’s room, sentimental items and more, read on to get her expert advice!
Meet Nathalie Ricaud
Nathalie is a professional organizer in Singapore and the founder of Get Organised & Beyond.
She works with individuals and families who feel overwhelmed by all the stuff they’ve accumulated in their homes, be it the toys, clothes, books, paper, digital files or even by all the activities they’re trying to fit into their schedules.
She helps them declutter and set up systems so they can create and maintain a clutter-free, organised and peaceful home and make time for the meaningful things in their life.
Fun fact: She’s originally from France and has been living in Singapore since 1998.
P.S We’re teaming up with Nathalie to bring our StyleFans an exclusive offer, read till the end to find out what it is!
Have a specific area of concern in your mind? Click on any of the links below.
- To Start: Define Your Why
- Decluttering & Organizing Specific Areas At Home
- How To Stay Organized
- How To Balance Home Decorating & Cleaning
- Dealing With ‘Hoarders’
1. To Start: Define Your Why
Wondering why you’re having so much trouble with getting started despite decluttering being one of your goals? Nathalie’s advice for you is that you should start by getting in touch with the reason why you want to have this declutter.
“You should start by defining your ‘Why’. We basically don’t declutter and get organized just for the sake of it. We have to hope to achieve something bigger out of it.
So it could be that you want to save time, that you want to save money, to reduce your stress levels, to improve your relationship with your spouse, or to be a role model for your children.”
Understanding the benefits of decluttering can also ensure that you stay motivated in the long run.
“By having clarity on what it is that you’re hoping to achieve, it’s going to help you kickstart the journey, but also stay motivated along the way. Because I have to say decluttering does take time, and it often gets worse before it gets better.”
Also check out on StyleMag: Home Organization & Decluttering Challenges To Take On (+ FREE Checklist)
2. Decluttering & Organizing Specific Areas At Home
2.1 How to organize kitchen cabinets
The kitchen is the heart of your home, but unfortunately also a hotspot for mess. Here are some timely reminders from Nathalie on how to keep your pantry and kitchen cabinets organized.
- Make sure you keep only the things you need and use in your kitchen, particularly for appliances and gadgets.
- Keep similar items together. (e.g. baking utensils, cooking pots, food prep essentials, etc.)
- Store items as close to where they will be used as possible. (e.g. pots and pans will go near the stove.)
- Keep items that are used regularly at an accessible location, so you’re more inclined to put it back where it belongs.
Tip: For safety reasons, keep fragile items on higher shelves so they’re less likely to be broken by accident. Also, place heavy appliances on low shelves so that you won’t injure yourself while trying to retrieve them.
Here’s a visual representation on how you can create zones within your kitchen to ensure that you have a structured approach to organizing your kitchen!
Also check out on StyleMag: 4 Organizing Rules To A Beautiful & Tidy Kitchen Pantry
2.2 How to organize a toddler’s room
It’s no question that a child can bring a whole lot of joy to your life, but also a whole lot of stuff! If your kids’ room looks like a complete warzone, Nathalie has some suggestions to help turn things around.
- Keep only items that your child is currently using in their wardrobe and pack everything else away in boxes (e.g. packing clothes that your child has outgrown into a box at the bottom of their wardrobe).
- Don’t mix clothes that your child has not grown into with clothes that they currently wear. This prevents confusion and saves you time when getting them dressed.
- Keep items of similar categories together, to make retrieval easier. Such as categorising toys into cars, dolls and building blocks. You can use storage boxes or containers to help you out.
- Label where things are and where they belong so you and your toddler know where to return items to. If your child can’t read yet, you can always try printing out pictures, or getting them to draw the image out!
Nathalie explained why she herself likes having easily accessible storage spaces.
“I’m a big fan of, actually, cube storage with baskets that can be easily slid in and do not have any lid on them. So it’s easier for the child and for you as a parent also, to access them and most importantly, be more inclined to put things back where they belong after use.”
Tip: Storage boxes that are filled to the brim will signal to you that it’s time to declutter! So make a decision on whether you’re keeping those items for your next child, or going to donate, sell or throw them away.
Also check out on StyleMag: 2020 Ultimate List Of Places To Donate Your Old Clothes & Items in Singapore
2.3 How to organize paperwork
Bothered by the sight of piles of paper all around your home? Nathalie acknowledges that it can be difficult to keep paperwork in check and hence one needs to really set aside time to get it done.
“Paper is indeed quite a challenging area to keep organized and you really want to dedicate time consistently, regularly, in your schedule, so that you can stay on top of your paperwork.”
Nathalie shared some useful tips on managing paper. Generally, she categorises them under two broad groups: paper that has just entered your life and paper that will stick around for a while (e.g. a long term project, or perhaps something that needs to be referenced for a few months).
For papers that have just entered your life
- Get rid of as much as you can at that point. such as things you are never going to read or do anything with.
- Set aside some time, at least once or twice a week to action some of these papers (e.g paying bills, answering requests, signing forms).
- After actioning papers, ask yourself ‘Do I really need to keep it? If not, get rid of it.
For papers that need to be kept for a while
- As soon as the long-term project ends, go through your file and decide what you can let go of.
- Check your files at least once a year to do some purging. You can adjust the frequency depending on how much paper you’re dealing with and how long you can focus on purging paper for.
Nathalie, too, has her struggles with how mundane purging paper can be. She shared how she would get quite sick and tired of the chore after about an hour of purging her own paper, and so she has learnt to recognise that as her limit to the task.
At the beginning of each year, she goes through her personal files because she knows it’ll give her a feeling of starting afresh. But with work files, she handles them twice a year, in June and December, which coincides with the holiday season, so that she’ll return to a clean slate and get back to what’s most important for her in her job.
Ultimately, Nathalie emphasised that it’s most important to find a purging schedule that suits you best!
Tip: Put the date of the declutter that you decide on in your diary, to ensure you are reminded of it as the date nears. This gives you a better chance of getting it done.
Also check out on StyleMag: How To Get Rid Of Paper Clutter For Good (Bills, Letters & Receipts)
2.4 How to declutter & organize sentimental items
A firm believer in ‘Old, but gold.’? Be it cards or notes from friends, or photos with your loved ones, it’s inevitable that you’ll start to accumulate these little treasures as the years go by.
There’ll come a time where you’ll simply have to learn to let a sentimental item go. It’s never easy, so we asked Nathalie for what can be done to make the process somewhat smoother.
“Sentimental items are really a category of items in your home that you should declutter at the end of your decluttering process. Because it’s really the most difficult item to declutter.
So make sure that you have gone through the rest of your home, the clothes, the toys, the books, the magazines, the kitchenware, before you get there. And hopefully by then you’ll have built your decluttering muscle and it will become easier for you to make those decisions.”
Sort your items by category, such as photos, greeting cards and notes. Then, further categorise them by event or date or even the person they came from. As Nathalie says, this will help you with making a decision on what can go.
“You’re going to have to go through each of these categories and decide what you’re going to keep. And you’re going to need to make a decision and to really keep the ones that are most meaningful to you and let go of the rest.
Because if you keep everything, you’re not really going to enjoy those that are really meaningful to you, right?”
Tip: Take some photos or scan items that you’re reluctant to let go of. Then use an app like ARTKIVE to store them, or even make a collage! It’ll help reassure you that you still have them somewhere, and they’ll no longer take up space.
3. How To Stay Organized
After all your hard work, you’ll definitely want to keep everything looking clean and pristine! Nathalie emphasises the need to remain dedicated and diligent in the long run.
“Staying organized requires having set up robust organizing systems that are basically backed up by robust habits. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying,
The first part ‘A home for everything’ refers to the organizing system. And the second part, ‘everything in its home’ refers to the habits, because you need indeed to take the habits of putting things where they belong, so that you can find them again and stay organized in the long run.”
You could also nip the issue in the bud and prevent clutter from building up in future by being mindful about what you are buying and why you choose to hold on to some things.
“Another good example if you want to stay organized in the long run, could be to limit the inflow of things that you’re bringing into your home.
And the best way to do that, to acquire this new habit, is by understanding why you’re going through the decluttering process. Why you’ve been buying stuff. Why you’re holding onto stuff. By creating this awareness, hopefully you’ll be able to review your buying patterns.”
4. How To Balance Home Decorating & Cleaning
Do you find yourself struggling to balance decorating your home and keeping it clean? Nathalie’s recommendation is that you be selective with what you choose to keep and display. This means shortlisting only those that really bring you many happy memories, and letting go of everything else.
“What I can tell you from an organizing standpoint is that the more you own, the more time you need to take care of those things. And also, the more you display, the less likely you are to honour and to appreciate those things that you are keeping and that are meaningful to you.”
5. Dealing With ‘Hoarders’
We’ve talked about getting yourself pumped up to declutter and how to go about it, but what happens when family members come into the picture?
The term ‘hoarder’ can often be thrown around carelessly. However, what many fail to realise is that it is a legitimate mental health condition that has been formally recognised by the World Health Organisation as a medical disorder that requires treatment and therapy.
“A hoarder is someone who does accumulate a lot of random things, and who struggles to let go even a single piece of old paper, or newspaper, or plastic bag. Up to the point that it becomes very difficult to move from one room to the other, and to perform simple tasks, such as cooking, bathing or sleeping in her own bed.”
If you or anyone you know suffers from such a disorder, Nathalie’s advice is to seek the help of a mental health practitioner to alleviate the distress and create a safe environment at home.
Thankfully in most cases, we’re often just left feeling frustrated about someone in the same household always holding onto stuff and refusing to let it go.
Here’s Nathalie’s words of wisdom on how to ease them into a declutter.
- Ensure your areas are clutter-free first so you can lead by example.
- Communicate and understand why they have difficulty decluttering.
- Explain to them what they would have to gain out of a deep clean. (e.g. having more room at home. Or getting relief from any respiratory issues related to the dust at home)
- Find out what would be a motivation for them to declutter, and then be by their side to guide and encourage them through the process.
- Do not make decisions on their behalf and don’t judge the decisions they make as well or it will only lead to resentment and frustration.
- Most importantly, take time to celebrate any progress for the success that it is!
“And once you have decluttered and have a good idea of how you want to organize your home, then will be a good time to have a look at what Style Degree has to offer and the range of great organizing products that you can consider.”
Just as Nathalie says, decluttering is never an easy process. But now, with her practical tips, you’ll be more equipped to start on your organizing journey towards a neat and pristine home.
If you find yourself needing help with creating systems in your home and daily life, feel free to reach out to Nathalie at Get Organised & Beyond. In collaboration with Get Organised & Beyond, we have a special offer for our StyleFans!
Mention that you are a Style Degree customer (or StyleFan!) to enjoy 10% off your first onsite or online session with Nathalie at Get Organised & Beyond.
You can make a booking by emailing Nathalie at [email protected] or by calling +65 9635 6946.
We wish you all the best in your decluttering and organzing journey! Let us know what you found most useful in the comments down below.
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