Heather Gibson Co-Director of Finer Details Concierge and Organising Services joins Tony McManus and Deb Kennedy from 6PR Radio to talk de-cluttering before Christmas.
Recipe book declutter
[Tony] Deb said she’s got all her recipe books all over the kitchen and so many people do, there’s nothing wrong with it. But what would you say about that?
[Heather] We don’t tell people to get rid of anything that obviously makes them happy because that’s what life’s all about is keeping yourself happy. If it’s not clutter and if it’s not impacting on the way you live, and it’s not wasting your time or money then it’s all good.
[Deb] And if you can still see the floor the everything’s fine.
[Heather] There is the 80 20 rule – we only use, 20% of our items, 80% of the time. There probably is a little bit of decluttering that could be done within the cookbooks.
[Deb] I think there are two sorts of people. You got those that clear surfaces and they put everything away in cupboards and behind doors so that you can’t see anything. And then there are those that use surfaces, is that right Heather?
[Heather] Yes, and if you like to display your possessions and you’re getting use out of them and it does make you happy from looking at them or there a physical use, that’s great. The people that put things away in boxes and sheds, garages and attic spaces, that say, “oh no I have to keep that”. But for what purpose, if it’s tucked away and it’s not serving you what’s the real reason for keeping it.
[Tony] There’s a fantastic episode of Friends. Monica was a clean freak and a tidy freak. One of the episodes deals with the fact that. There’s a door in the apartment. That nobody’s ever been into. And we finally work out that behind that door, all she’s done is get all her crap and thrown it behind this door. Which is just this enormous mess.
[Deb] Yes, that’s what people do. They clear surfaces but then you open their cupboards and it’s like, oh my goodness.
[Heather] They say that 90% of homes have at least one cluttered room. So that’s a fairly large percentage of homes that have clutter there somewhere. The average Australian spends over $1,200 a year on items that are never used.
[Deb] Would you consider the garage a room, I guess Heather, because that’s where most people stock their stuff isn’t it?
[Heather] You drive through most suburbs and the cars are all parked in the driveway. They’re not in the garage because they can’t fit in the garage.
Living with less stuff
[Tony] It’s an interesting thing that I think was pioneered, certainly in my lifetime, by Oprah. Where she would have experts come in and. And the science behind it now is that it’s really therapeutic and it’s cleansing and it’s better for your world if you can live more frugally and without all that stuff around you.
[Heather] I saw an image in the last couple of days and it had Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates and someone else who I can’t think of. And it said that there was over, billions of dollars just in that image. But not one of them had a Rolex and not one of them had the Armani suit. They didn’t worry about the stuff, they just got on with life and did what they did. I don’t doubt that they’ve got some toys somewhere. But you know, they don’t necessarily have to cover themselves with it.
Dealing with sentimental items
[Deb] What about those who are just overly sentimental Heather? Who cannot get rid of things because they belonged to somebody, along the familial line. Someone who’s died. We see these shows where people who have lost a partner and they’ve kept everything in situ as it was 10 years ago when the person died. And nothing’s been moved, nothing’s been dusted. That is a mental condition obviously and how do you help people who are really battling a mental illness?
[Heather] We tend to refer anyone on that does have severe hoarding tendencies because we’re not professionals in that space. So we could do more damage than good. So if anyone does have, that sort of tendency we’ve got professionals within our database that we would refer them to. I’ve got friends myself that have got every childhood memory that their kid has ever done from school. And I think the thought is, if everything is special, then nothing is special.
[Deb] That’s a good answer.
[Tony] There is a dear mate who shall remain nameless, who’s just sent through a text here, you’ll love this. And I’ve been in his man shed and it’s really well put together. But there’s a lot of stuff in there, there’s a lot of crap. And he’s saying the wife is saying when are you coming around Heather to get rid of stuff in the man shed, get it all out.
[Heather] A lot of stuff is collected in these areas that people think that they might use. But then they forget what’s there because there is so much there so therefore it’s never used. So if you would like to tell that lovely lady to give us a call.
Regretting decluttering an item
[Deb] The other thing, you know what can happen Heather, as it can happen to me. I’ll do a spring clean and I’ll be quite ruthless. And then in six months time I’ll think, where is that shirt, where? Oh that’s right, I put it out.
[Heather] But has it made a huge difference to your life that you can’t find it?
[Deb] No it hasn’t.
[Tony] Heather what a great question.
[Deb] Can I just say Tony is now painting me as a hoarder, I’m not.
[Tony] You are, there is stuff everywhere.
[Deb] He’s doing this just to wind me up Heather. It’s not true but you know I do like things on the surfaces in the kitchen etcetera. And Tony’s the opposite, he has them hidden away in the cupboards, in a mess.
[Heather] It’s all about not wasting your time or your money.
Working with a personal concierge
[Deb] Heather, in terms of the concierge service that you offer, tell us a little bit about what you do for a client when they ring.
[Heather] It’s about freeing up their time. Because they’re busy with their career and possibly other things that they want to attend to. It’s all the little life administration things like, getting the plumber in or researching holiday activities. Or getting Johnny’s ski jacket for the upcoming trip but not having the time to find the right one. Or even going and getting it. We do returns, we wait in queues.
[Deb] Dry cleaning and that sort of thing.
[Tony] Yes I love it.
[Heather] Everything. Everything that’s on the list that, it might not be urgent but it’s still at the back of your head rattling away. Or on the bit of paper on your desk or wherever you keep it. And people, it’s predominately women, are starting to value their free time a bit more saying, listen I work pretty hard, I deserve a bit of time off at the weekend, I can actually delegate some of this and get it off my desk and onto somebody else’s.
[Tony] I went out for some coffee this morning with friends, by the time I got home, number one daughter, left a note and a smashed kitchen, bathroom cabinet on the kitchen table. With a little note saying, I smashed the cabinet in the bathroom.
[Heather] Accidentally obviously.
[Tony] Accidentally, I’m sure it’ll be easy to fix. And I’m thinking, so now I’m the peanut that’s going to spend days trying to orchestrate that. Really I need you Heather. Just final question from me before we let you go. Deb, make the bed before you leave home or leave it untidy.
[Deb] Oh make it the second it is vacated.
[Heather] Absolutely. It makes the home room look tidy. You could have other things lying around in that room and if your bed’s made, it looks tidy. If you don’t make the bed, the whole room looks chaotic.