Why I decluttered during a power cut and how it made me feel

Yes I hate me too. I thought I had better start with that! On Tuesday night, I arrived home after taking my daughter to her swimming lesson to discover my house in complete darkness. No security lights activated when we drove in and the lights I had left on as we left were no longer illuminated. Joy. After a quick walk round the house to establish that we hadn’t had a break in or a fuse had tripped, I called our local electrician. He told me to call the electricity board. To cut a long story short, the electricity supply to our house had stopped working. It ended up taking over 18 hours for the electricity to be back to normal and included at least 8 trucks parked up our road.

On Wednesday, it became clear that this was a serious problem and would not fixed in an hour or two. That meant I had no chance of doing any work as a) there wasn’t any internet b) my battery life on my laptop isn’t as good as it used to be and c) I wasn’t ‘feeling’ work. I was stressed, distracted and a bit twitchy.

So after trying to read a book, making drinks and doing a bit of tidying up, I decided to tackle the two shelves in our bookcase that holds all my work ‘stuff’. This included old Accounts files, many receipts, notebooks (new and old), a broken paper cutter, printer paper, card, label packs, random notes and lots of plastic wallets. There was also a hideous amount of old project files that I hadn’t emptied and removed. All piled together across two shelves and looking a bit of a state. It had sort of grown across the room as I couldn’t locate say, new A4 paper, so I would go and order more off Amazon. Ridiculous but I had been putting clearing it up for ages because I always had something more pressing.

This Girl Can Organise Instagram account
Fully recommend This Girl Can Organise – her stories are really helpful.

There are some brilliant organising and decluttering blogs and Instagram accounts out there (my favourites include: This Girl Can Organise, Just a Girl and her Blog and The Home Edit) so I’m not going to tell you how to declutter but I will share why it helped me:

  1. I couldn’t actually access my emails or any work projects because of the lack of power
  2. I still had 9 to 3 hours that I needed to use
  3. The mess was getting worse and I was wasting money buying stuff that I already had but just couldn’t be bothered to look for
  4. I didn’t have an excuse not to do it.

So, I pulled everything out off the shelves, created a bin, keep, recycle or shred pile system and just moved each bit to the according pile. It took awhile and looked terrible but I soon realised what I had, didn’t want and discovered a few gems that had been forgotten about including a few notebooks from Rome which I love.

I was then able to remove the bin pile out of the room which instantly gave me more space and made everything look so much better. Then I created smaller keep piles – segregating the stationary, finding a new home for the old accounts folders and popped the new notebooks together. Suddenly my massive mess was quite small and easy to put back onto the shelves.

As I’m a fan of organising blogs, I instantly went onto Amazon to buy in trays and box files, but actually I realised that I didn’t need any of them – yet. Instead, I used neat piles where I can see everything and after the declutter a lot of space was revealed. I could have fit everything onto one shelf but using two makes it more accessible. My takeaway – you don’t always need to spend money when decluttering, take time out after sorting through it all to see what space you actually have and then after a day or two see if you do need anything to help.

I will never declutter for the sake of it but it did keep me distracted from what else was going on outside my house, lowered my stress levels and gave me the ability to locate A4 envelopes instantly. I’m hoping I have also saved myself some cash by seeing that I do already own quite a bit of essential work ‘stuff.’ Hurrah!

Recommended reading:

An Edited Life by Anna Newton – I’m currently still reading this and I’m hoping to do a round up of great books that are helping me in the next month or so. Her YouTube channel is great too.

This Girl Can Organise Instagram – Nicola is currently writing a book but her account is really helpful – especially her stories.

This article in Psychology Today about the scientific reasons to declutter.

Ps I realise that I should have taken photos of my decluttering to help illustrate this blog but I’m not that organised!

This was the scene on Wednesday morning. What you can’t see are the other 6 vans down the road…