17 Jan 2024

Decluttering with Natalie Jane

From Summer Times, 11:40 am on 17 January 2024

Being organised is a skill, and not one we are all born with, says professional organiser Natalie Jane.

Organising spaces came naturally to the former professional ballet dancer, and in recent years she's turned this trait into a career. 

Natalie Jane is a professional organiser.

Natalie Jane is a professional organiser. Photo: Richard King

It's been a decade since she launched Be Organised, and has since starred alongside Kanoa Lloyd in the television series Sort Your Life Out NZ.

Fear of letting go is the most common challenge for people who are trying to sort their life out, Jane says.

“I might need that one day or, I spent money on that, I can't possibly let that go.

“But working with many clients over the nearly 11 years I've been doing this, they always say to me how much lighter they feel when they have let go.”

Cluttered houses make for anxious lives, Jane says.

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If you're overwhelmed by mess and clutter, your health will suffer says decluttering expert Natalie Jane. Photo: 123RF

“I do help people to gain control, or take back control, of their environment, so that they can feel relaxed in their homes, so that they can feel that sense of joy. Our homes really should be our haven.

“Many of us lead very busy lives, we've got a lot going on, and the last thing we need is to be coming into a cluttered home."

Jane says clutter can have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.

"It can stop us from sleeping well, and if you're constantly in that space of feeling anxious, it stops us from being present.”

Jane shared the following tips with Summer Times.

Scrabble tiles spelling out order and chaos

“It's just so important with kids to keep on top of it, otherwise, you just get into a big mess," Jane says. Photo: Brett Jordan / Unsplash

Culling wardrobes 

We are responsible for everything that comes into our home, she says.

“Be conscious every time you purchase something ... do you really need that item? Ask yourself that question, before it even comes in the door.”

However, once the clutter in the wardrobe has piled up, she suggests dealing with one category of clothing a day.

“Maybe you've only got 10 minutes, pencil it in your diary, make sure it's a time that's going to work for you and just do your socks, or your jeans, or one category of clothing at a time.

“Imagine if you were to do that for 10 minutes a day? You would eventually get there.”

She suggests a permanent donation basket for families with growing children.

"Every time they grow out of a piece of clothing, or they no longer want it … put it into that basket immediately, so it doesn't go back into the wardrobe.”

Decluttering seasonally or every school holidays is another way to keep on top of things, she says.

“It's so important with kids to keep on top of their things, otherwise, you just get into a big mess.”

The downsizing declutter

Jane says when it comes to downsizing many people, particularly in older generations, have never decluttered and find that their belongings have "really got on top of them".

“The whole idea is that if you declutter on a regular basis, it gets easier and easier. [It's] like anything you do, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.”

A box of old sepia photos

Digitisation is a boon for people who want to downsize family photos. Photo: Roman Kraft / Unsplash

Coping with photos, large family albums, and journals

"One family that I'm working with at the moment, is digitising everything. They're getting all the photos out and they're not keeping multiples of photos that they have."

Photos of themselves that they don't like, or of people they don't know, are also going, Jane says. 

What about when a parent dies?

What is considered treasure to one person, is quite often not to another, she says.

"I was also working with another beautiful woman on the show, and she had lots and lots of treasures ... from her family.

“I asked her to pick out five of her most special memories," Jane says, "so she was able to let go of a whole lot of [their] stuff ... their trips, postcards, and little ornamental things."

The thing to remember is if everything is treasure, nothing is treasure, she says.

“Put limits around how many items you're going to keep, I think that can really help.”