Image courtesy of House Doctor.

In his decluttering column this month, Peter addresses concerns about hoarding behaviour and shares the simple ways to avoid going down this path.

Dear Peter, my parents were hoarders and I’m truly petrified that my house is slowly turning into a disaster area like the one I grew up in. What can I do to make sure that doesn’t happen to me in the future?

The science is still out on whether this kind of behaviour passes down from one person to the next. But, there’s no doubt that growing up in a messy or hoarder type of environment means that you might have missed out on some basics. There are literally thousands of videos online on how to clean, declutter and organise a home. If you feel like you need to learn some of those skills, I’d recommend checking them out first. So, instead of me telling you some of those housekeeping basics, here are the top five behaviours I’ve noticed in people who are organised.

1. Finish the task It may sound pretty simple but not finishing a task is the most common reason that a space gets messy or cluttered. Change your thinking and commit to the belief that whatever it is that you’re doing isn’t actually done until everything has been put away. A meal isn’t finished until the dishes have been done. The laundry isn’t done until it’s folded and put back. A task three quarters done is not a finished task – it’s an invitation for clutter to collect. Think about the extra steps needed to finish a task before you even start it.

2. Drop ‘later’ from your vocab Sometimes it’s just easier to deal with something later. ‘Occasionally’, that’s OK. When it’s ‘usually’ then it’s a problem. ‘Later’ is the best friend of clutter. Try to do more now and stop pretending that there will be some magical time later when you have nothing to do except straighten up your desk or go back and finish that task. Take an extra couple of minutes and do it now.

3. Know that ‘good enough’ is excellent Disorganised people can get trapped by the idea that they need a job to be perfectly done. With that focus on perfection, many people don’t even start. Perfection is an unattainable goal so let it go. Get started now. Know it won’t be 100 per cent perfect and let yourself believe that good enough is definitely great enough.

4. Take a quick scan of the house before you leave and see if there’s anything that needs to be picked up and dropped off in the right spot Think of those empty hands of yours as an unfilled Uber. Use your time more efficiently. Fill your arms, grab a basket or simply scoop up that out-of-place item and get something done without it really taking any extra time.

5. When you’re out buying things, think about what this item will replace in your home This tip may be the hardest one of all but the trick to keeping the clutter down in a house is to constantly get rid of things that are out-of-date or just out-of-love. ‘One in, one out’ is a wonderful philosophy to adopt. Find a new place for those things you no longer need and give the good, useful and beautiful stuff pride of place in your uncluttered home.

The short answer

Adopt a new mantra in your life: “Don’t Put It Down. Put It Away”. Taking that extra step to return things to where they belong will add only a few seconds to the job at hand. Letting things pile up is a behaviour that you can easily change.

Need some storage ideas to get yourself sorted? Check out these great finds for the bedroom: