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95 My decluttering journey with Josephine
Episode 9524th July 2020 • The Declutter Hub Podcast • The Declutter Hub
00:00:00 00:28:47

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A decluttering journey looks very different depending on your circumstances and mindset. Josephine tells us how and when her light bulb moments happened in this podcast with Lesley.

Josephine undertook a declutter of her dad and her aunt's house and it lead her down a path of reevaluating her own relationship with stuff in her own home.

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Intro 0:07

Welcome to today's episode of The declutter hub podcast, your channel for super easy, no nonsense advice on how to declutter and organise your home. Please welcome your host professional organisers, Ingrid Jansen and Lesley Spellman.

Lesley 0:31

Hello, and welcome listeners to Episode 95 of the Declutter Hub Podcast. I'm Lesley. In today's episode, I'm talking to Josephine from Sydney, Australia. Josephine has recently undergone a huge declutter and reorganisation of her home as well as tackling the homes of other family members too. Sometimes I need to declutter involves more than one home and that's when it can get even tougher. ings and I thought it would be really interesting to talk to Josephine and a recent decluttering journey to inspire anyone at home who is going through the same thing. Kind of just before I start, Josephine, it's so nice. Can I just say it's so nice to have an Australian accent on the show. We're all about accents here. We like to have different accents around Ingrid and I, we've had a lot of American guests. We've had Canadian guests, but we've never had an Australian. So I'm excited to bring an Australian accent to the declutter podcast.

Josephine 1:26

Well, I'm absolutely delighted to be here and thrilled to be invited.

Lesley 1:30

So Ingrid and I spoke to you last week. And we just thought it was a really very typical journey. Because of the involvement of other family members. The light bulb started to go on for you, Josephine. So we really wanted to talk about that. So a lot of the last year you spent decluttering, your aunt's house and your dad's house? Yeah, do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Josephine 1:53

Sure. So I have some elderly relatives, and they got to the stage where my mother went into care. And then my aunt needed to go into care. And so my father needed to sell the house, which was a five bedroom and a family home that they'd lived in for 61 years. And my aunt, the house had been in a family for for something like 83 years, both had tendencies to just hold on to absolutely everything. So they were large family homes that were full of stuff. And it was a little bit daunting, but I knew that I was going to need to step in and help because we're both in Sydney, some of my siblings live overseas, and that sort of thing. And I'm quite a practical person. And I thought I need to start thinking about this and get my head around how to work through a really cluttered space and how we can work through this smoothly and and try for it not to be too traumatic for my dad to because he was actively involved in downsize. He was downsizing to a two and a half bedroom unit from a five bedroom house. Yes, so that's kind of that's kind of where I found myself last year. So a lot of health crises for the elderly, relatives, but also suddenly having to leave homes and, and us needing to sort of help them do that,

Lesley 3:17

too. That's really interesting. Actually, Josephine, you talk about going from a five bedroom house to a two and a half bedroom house. Now that's something obviously that's talked about in Australia, obviously talked about in the US, but not talked about in the UK. So what is it two and a half bedroom? What's a half a bedroom?

Josephine 3:34

It was sort of a utility room, like an extension of the lounge that it's kind of got a dividing wall across like a folding door that he's he's made that into a study. So it's not like a full bedroom, but it's like another room. So it's almost like a three bedroom apartment. All right, effectively. It could be yeah,

Lesley 3:54

sorry, I'll get taken off with my thoughts. I'm like, huh, I shall ask Josephine. What a half a bedroom is that we're talking about it? So that's quite a big undertaking. Did you have a plan when you went in there? Did you think this is how I'm going to do it? Was the plan to get rid of loads of the stuff? I mean, obviously a downsize brings with it things that you have to have to make more serious decisions with the downsizing you do you don't have the benefit of of choice, really, you have to make these decisions. That makes it very difficult. So did you talk to your dad about how that was going to happen? And did you have a little bit of a plan? Did you think about where the stuff was gonna go afterwards? Or did you just jump right in and start trying and learn as you went?

Josephine 4:37

So with my dad's house, we I did talk to him quite a bit. I didn't realise at the time but he was actually totally overwhelmed by the whole situation and also by the fact that my mum had we had declined significantly last year and had gone to hospital to care type thing. And really, he didn't do anything so he sold the house and had quite a Long settlement, and I started talking to him about it. And he kind of didn't do anything until my sister arrived from overseas. And she did a little bit of a stint. And I sort of talked with her. And we came up with a strategy of how she was going to start. And then about a week later, it was Christmas break. And then I was able to go and help. And actually, all the family members had to come together. And so I felt rushed doing my dad's house because he hadn't really gone through much stuff in advance. And then we were on a time limit. And we all just had to plough in and go through things. I guess from my perspective, I really wanted to respect the fact that this was my parents home and their precious belongings. So I just say took the dining room, and then I would put things out on the table for him to make decisions about. And then I would just do the rest, just make it happen, send it to charity, I had my sister doing runs off to the charity shop, and we'd worked out what they could only process a carload per day, per shop type things. So we needed to do more than one run. Yes. So it was it felt really a bit rushed and full on. And like we just were just churning through this stuff, which was really sad, because this is like my parents life's worth of stuff. It does, it sort of showed me where a lot of this stuff isn't actually that's important, because dad would look at the table and go, there's two little things that are important. And the rest I don't care about.

Lesley 6:36

I think it's a combination. You know, what you're talking about there, Josephine is very, it's very common. And so the things that I'm talking about are where your dad kind of lost sight of the house, because he was dealing with something much more serious, a mom being poorly. And so that takes his eye off the ball as it were with the house. And this happens a lot. You know, our homes are not the primary focus, you know, because homes take a lot of looking after, and a lot of maintaining, but if something else is taken our attention, any kind of things that happen in life, sometimes we can't focus the attention that we need to keep things under control. And so an equally your dad's probably not been somebody that's been Yeah, let's declutter today for most of his life, it's not something that that generation typically has grown up with, you know, they keep things they're from an era where they kind of make do and mend. And so it's a very, very different undertaking for somebody of that age. Also, the thing that you talk about where it was very rushed, that's also very typical, because a lot of times when we downsize, there are very specific timescales involved in that to get to the end point. And for you, that timescale might have been sort of expedited by the fact that your family were all there. So they all came over, right? We've got a week or whatever that might be to do this, and we've got to do it within this week. Otherwise, it's down to Josephine to do it. So then it can become very rushed, and very overwhelmed them for your dad. So how did he feel? Was he on board with the process? Was he grateful to the struggle? I know you felt guilty, of course, you would feel guilty, sort of almost dismantling the family home, but was your dad okay with that?

Josephine 8:15

He was okay. He was very grateful for everyone's help. And what we ended up doing was sort of getting him to work on an area that was sort of important to him, or he had a lot of papers and books. And he honestly was just there for days doing that. But that sort of just popped him out of the way of some of the other stuff.

Lesley 8:34

You know, what's really interesting Josephine and a lot of people that were listening, because they know that you're going to we're going to talk in a minute about your own decluttering journey, the things that you've spoken about in terms of the way that you dealt that you dealt with your dad's home, seemed to me to be very organised, very efficient. You've thought about the fact that you could only do one car loads a day to charity, you've used post it notes to identify which things are staying in, which had go in, you've pulled out certain things for your dad that are important to him. And so there was definitely a very organised process and efficient process within that. So then, it's interesting to me that that sounds like somebody who's completely in control at home, going into somebody else's home and helping them. So I'm interested to know then how that then moved into your own decluttering journey. Because very shortly after this, you started to look at your own house and your own clutter. So let's talk a little bit about your own house. What sorts of clutter did you have in your house? Did you have a lot of it? Was it overwhelming? So talk about your own clutter in your own house now.

Josephine 9:38

I knew I had some areas in my house that needed attention, like my spare room wardrobe, my garage, my books, my paperwork. I knew I had a few too many clothes and that sort of thing. But I generally might have like I haven't really I'm really lucky I have quite a lot of storage space, but a lot of it was Quiet fall as well. And I have a lot of shelves in my kitchen and in my pantry, and a lot of them were full. So I had space in my house, my house functioned. If someone came over, they'd say, Oh, yeah, this looks nice and all the rest of it. So it was all behind cupboards and shelves and all the rest of it. So that was kind of I wasn't fully aware. And to be honest, I started listening to your podcasts because I was getting ready for doing the family homes. And then I started to, like, just do little things in my house, as you kind of get inspired after each little podcast. And realise, wow, I've actually got quite a bit of work to do here. So like, for example, in my walk in pantry, I just had so much stuff on the shelves, and I used to shuffle it around and organise it and tidy it and throw a few things out. But heaps of stuff there that we weren't using, and that had kept for too long. And that it just hung around and gathered through family life, that I'd kind of tried to tackle a whole room in one day previously, and not really focus down on the different elements of things that were in there. And so I think I'd previously not managed to kind of move much stuff out. Yeah,


so it sounds to me as if your home wasn't overwhelming. So in general, your home was would you say that it was reasonably tidy, so you're happy to have people around proud of your home. But it was just you felt that through the journey of doing your dad's home and your aunt's home listening to the podcast, you started to light bulb started to go on a little bit. And you started to think, actually, I think there is more that I can tackle here than I originally thought,


definitely. And I knew that I had a bit too much stuff. And coming from the background of a family home that had a lot of stuff. When I was growing up to I think it's always something where I've always had just that sort of buy stock up mentality a little bit. And you know, then I was very busy with work and raising family and things like that. And so then I'd be stocking up and stashing stuff here and there, I'd sort of had the chance to get it. And yeah, it kind of multiplied.


The interesting thing is, and so obviously, we have a lot of listeners to our podcast, but we don't really get much that we don't have an opportunity within our podcast generally, to interact. But so the first time that we came across you then when we that you came onto our radar then was during the for today's 40 items challenge, which is a challenge that we ran in our Facebook group in February and March this year. So that was when you started posting about the types of things that you were throwing away. So the whole idea of the for today's 40 items challenge. It's very simple. You identify one item per day, Ingrid and I try and inspire people to think about what that might be, or the people obviously inspire, or the members with the things that they're and declutter in that day. So that's when you really started to focus in on getting rid of individual things within your house, isn't it?


Absolutely. And he was I thinking, Oh, this 40 day, 40 RM challenge is going to be great. I'm gonna sort all my clutter during it. And then when I was getting getting on with it, I thought, Oh, my goodness, I haven't even touched the sides on some of the areas of my house that I was kind of thinking I might go to during this. And I definitely got rid of way more than 40 items, because I kind of got momentum, and some days, it'd be like, you know, 1020 things would be going out of the category that I decided to look at. It really was a lightbulb moment for me that I had a lot more to do and that I wanted to kind of, I guess move into more of a declutter mentality and just yet change a real mind shift in terms of how I live my life and interact with stuff. Yeah. So when I was getting towards the end of the 40, day 40 item challenge, Lesley, and Ingrid started talking about the bootcamp. And I started looking around me at everything that I was bringing for my aunt's house as well, which I was in the, in the process of, and just realising how much more I had to do and the areas that the bootcamp we're going to cover were areas of my house that really needed attention. So I just got really excited. And I said to my partner, I have to keep going with this. I really want to keep going with this. It's really exciting. I've got some momentum, and he was really agreeable, not that I needed his approval, but it's always good if your partner's kind of happy about it, and then I just dived in and got into it.


So within the boot camp, we took you, we take you through a sort of specific, almost like a road map. Yeah, so we take you through one area at a time or like you can't do that yet. You've got to do this one first. And you've got to do that one. And so we sort of trip the content out to you so we don't give you everything all at once. We give you one week at a time and the whole idea is that you follow our methodology as it were. Now did that work for you get looks Following Ingrid and ice kind of free scripted boot camp methodology did that work for you?


It totally worked for me. I mean, I just I trusted the process. And I trusted that you when you were saying like you need it, let's do this, these sort of slightly easier areas first, and we were talking about the declutter muscle and needing to strengthen it up a bit. And I sort of that really resonated with me. And I was really happy to start in a kitchen, which I don't really have that many emotions with. And even though I looked at it in the 40 days, 40 items, when I did the bootcamp, it was next level was really great. And I really, yeah, had success. So no, I, I loved the structure of it. And I really liked having that structure. And I was like, great, this is what I'm working on this week. And I just got right into it. I didn't didn't worry about what I was going to be doing next.


I think that's it, I think it's providing a structure and a framework to work around. Because I think one of the big problems that we have when we're decluttering is that we flit around from one place to another, and we try and do lots of little things, rather than focus on one sort of area at a time. And, and that's when people sort of struggle. And we all do it, you know, we walk into what we're decluttering one drawer, and then we find something that belongs in another room, and then we go and put it back in that room. And then we see something else in that room that needs decluttering with it, oh, well, it's only going to take me 10 minutes to do it. So I'll do this. And so you completely lose focus in the area that you're working in. So I know that the bootcamp works for people who feel that they need that structure and accountability. So within the boot camp, just in case anybody doesn't know we do kitchen first, then we move on to I've got to try and get this right now. Kitchen first and we move on to bathrooms. And these are fairly straightforward. I'm not saying there's no emotions in them, because there are but there tends to be less emotions involved in a kitchen in the bathroom, than the doors would something like clothes or books or things like that. So we go kitchen, bathroom, clothing, hallway, Garriage loft basement, which is a biggie, and then we start going into creating laundry systems, which is really, really critical to the way your house functions. Then we go into the hard ones, which is books and toys. So we cover most areas of the house in that order, over an eight week period. But we did it we created the boot camp specifically for lockdown, because we knew that a lot of people would have a little bit more time on their hands and a little bit and they wanted projects to focus on while they were locked down at home. That doesn't mean to say that you need to do your whole house in eight weeks. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn't really advocate doing it in eight weeks, because we think that's too quick. And we feel that you need to take it a little bit slower but locked down was unprecedented times wasn't it. And so it was it was an unusual situation, which we knew that people wanted that project. And that's why we did it in that way. But within the boot camp, do you do have lifetime access, so you can do it at your own pace. So I loved some of your transformations. And you posted before and after pictures. Now that's really interesting, because we love the idea of accountability. And that's what a before and after picture does. And I know some a lot of the people who have done the boot camp. At first I'm nervous to post before pictures, because it's almost like they're admitting the mess. Whereas we're like, don't worry about that we're all in this together. Everyone's like minded, everyone's got a clutter issue that's here. That's what we're here for. And we believe that posting your before picture gives you that extra level of accountability to then post an after picture. So to do the work and do the after picture. You have some fantastic transformations you posted before us for most of your things. So what areas do you feel that you had the biggest transformation and


I would say with my clothes, which I hadn't ever really tackled before, with my garage, which is quite large and has a lot of shelves and a lot of stuff gets dumped in there. And my books, which is pretty much a lifetime accumulation of my whole family who lives in this house or didn't live in this house. My daughter lives overseas now but yeah, so they were my big, really big areas. They were more work but just so rewarding. And honestly I love being in each of those spaces now not inside my wardrobe. But whenever I open my wardrobe, I really like looking at it and where my books are kept. I've started using that room differently and working in the area in the corner where I've opened up more space just hanging out in there whereas I didn't ever hardly ever like to go in there before my garage. It's a joy to walk in there and my laundry is actually in there too. So I do need to go in there quite often.


And it is fantastic. I loved the books transformation just because it went to the next level as you say because you were able to remove a bookcase a whole book so you have almost like a full wall of bookcases in you And once you decluttered some of your books, you could take away one of those bookcases. And then you just hung the picture in that space, and all of a sudden, the space is completely changed. So it just looks much more aesthetically pleasing. I remember we talked in one of the q&a is because we did sort of themed q&a, as we write throughout the bootcamp, we talked about not being scared of empty spaces, because I think a lot of people who have lived with clutter, or live with with sort of large amounts of stuff are a little bit scared when space starts to open up.


Yeah, I'm thrilled. And I've opened up lots of space, like in my own wardrobe, I've got actually a vacant shelf at the moment. But I'm just loving it, I'm just gonna let it sit there and decide what I want to do with it or, you know, it is quite freeing and calming. In some ways, I know it's scary, it's actually a really nice feeling to have that extra space.


It's so exciting. I'm kind of good to hear English, I get really good and excited when people have these fantastic successes. It's so nice. And you talk about a shift in mindset, which is something that we certainly set out to achieve. So this is not about, we don't want it to just be put stuff in a bin bag, send it to the charity shop, and that's your job done, what we want you what we want our members and our followers and things to do is to really have a different relationship with stuff. So to think differently about how you buy it, how you keep it, whether you need it, whether it's serving you well, whether it's filling gaps, you know, there's lots of different things. It's emotional stuff, isn't it? These are strong, powerful emotions. And I know you've definitely talked a lot about that shift in mindset, haven't you?


Definitely. And, look, I did start to get that listening to your podcast, because last Christmas, I just gave food gifts to everyone. And that was when we were decluttering dad's house, because it was just I just could not bear buying anything. But yeah, no more broadly in terms of myself and my own life. I've it's I've definitely reexamined my relationship to stuff and buying stuff and buying two of something instead of one of something. And, you know, I'm a little bit of a stockpile of sort of bathroom products, creams, things like that I have a skin condition that I manage. And in the past, I've sort of stockpiled things. And then I ended up having to get rid of half of it because it was all out of date. And it was just crazy. But like it's kind of freeing to because a little just hanging out there in the drawer. It's changed the way I look at stuff and realise how lucky I am I have so much stuff and I really have everything I need at my fingertips. And it's really nice to kind of be grateful for what you have and create some space. So just the right stuff comes in, when I kind of liked the idea of doing the best of the best and taking quality over quantity. So yeah, just changing the way I'm thinking about that's about stuff and the things that I acquire is really important. And it's one of the reasons I've decided to become a member after the boot camp. Because I really want to just keep going with my shift in mindset and solidify that and my good practices and just go a bit deeper with it. So it's a way of life for me. You've


gone through quite a journey, you know, so your own house declutter, because it was done in lockdown. It's been quite speedy. So you're absolutely you're absolutely right, it's gonna take a little bit more time, then to get it to the place where you're completely want to be because it is very phased, you know, we would say we were chatting before we came on to the podcast. And I still have the same thoughts as everyone else. You know, I've been a professional organiser for 10 years. But I still look at things that I decided I made a conscious decision to keep six months ago, a year ago, and now I look at them and think, but why? Why did I keep that? And what's changed in that six months. And so there's obviously something changed in terms of the way I feel about an item of clothing, or the way that I'm cooking life is constantly evolving and with it, our relationship to our stuff well as well. So it's really, really interesting. So Josephine, that's a really, it's, it's just so fantastic to hear this transformation and to look at the pictures. What we'll do is we'll post the picture certainly, of your book, declutter, in particular. Because I love that transformation. And we've chatted about it. So you'll find that on our social media posts and in our forum if you are a member. So is there anything else that you'd like to share with our listeners before we leave it for today?


Look, I would like to thank you and Ingrid for being such an inspiration all the way because really, you're so skilled and you just provide so much to to the group and to the members and like I've just got gotten so much out of it. I really appreciate it so much because I really feel like you've helped me a lot. And you really helped me along my way with my decluttering journey. And I'm kind of hooked now. So I'm gonna keep going with it.


Oh, that's good. It is. It's great. It's great. I mean, we obviously shout about it all the time. We're like, it's really good. It's a really good thing to do. But we want other people to come on board. And so it's so good. And and we're grateful to you as well. You know, we feel inspired by the people around us, because there's so many things that happen in people's lives that bring us to this point where clutter becomes so overwhelming. And it doesn't need to be like that. But we've not always been taught this stuff. You know, we don't always know which way to turn. Some of us are not. I wasn't a really organised tidy persons a child. That's something that I've learned over the years, I've learned that in my own way. And there are lots of different ways to organise. And so for Ingrid and I, our main focus is we want it to be real people with real homes and real lives, we're not into perfect kind of magazine, where they labelled up containers where we do like a labelled container. But it doesn't need to be absolutely perfect. It just needs to be functional, so you can find what you need. So keeping it real is definitely our motto. And definitely there's a lot of reality with Ingrid and because we do like to have a laugh with it, because it's serious stuff, but equally, can't just be really serious all the time. So we hope we bring a light hearted edge to something that's quite serious. And so thank you so much, Josephine. lovely to have you on lovely to have someone from the other side of the world as well. So thank you so much for your lovely Sydney accent today. So listeners, I hope you've learned a lot today as well and Josephine's insights have been helpful for you and you feel inspired to take action. Thanks for taking the time to listen today. If you'd like to get more tips and advice, please follow us on our social media. We're on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as at declutter hub, and have a lively supportive Facebook group where we chat about all things clutter, you can search for the declutter hub community, we'd love to see them. Don't forget our members area too. We offer step by step online courses, live q&a sessions and a membership community. That's what Josephine was talking about that she's just joined after the boot camp. Do check out the boot camp as well. If that's something that you're interested in doing. All the details will be on the show notes under this podcast. If you don't want to miss the next weekly episode, subscribe to us on the declutter podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher and it will pop into your notifications each Friday. Thank you so much and see you next time.


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