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Tidying up made easy.

“Moving home is the ideal opportunity to clear out”

Cleaning up, clearing out and getting rid of the clutter: how do you find the motivation? Not only when you’re planning a move, but also. Tidying expert Karine Paulon explains how to create order – and why you get to know yourself better by tidying up.

Ms Paulon, what was your experience of clearing out the last time you moved house?

Liberating. In fact, the experience was what led to my current activity as a tidying up coach. I began clearing out early and felt the freedom of being able to part with things. I labelled and numbered moving boxes to make the move easier. 

Before moving, there are a thousand things to do. Is it reasonable to want to give your house a thorough clear out in what is often a short space of time? 

Moving house is the ideal opportunity. There is a certain amount of pressure that is generally missing on everyday life. It is essential to start as early as possible to get rid of things so that packing and transporting are so much easier later on. If you only have little time, I would advise you to clear out where the psychological strain is greatest. For many people, that means the basement.

After moving, how do I create a good basis for keeping order in my new home? 

Unpack your boxes as quickly as possible. If you haven’t unpacked a lamp after two months, perhaps you no longer need it. 

Generally speaking, how do you find the motivation – and the time – day in day out to keep your house tidy? 

It is important to set yourself a goal: why do I want to tidy up? To make cleaning easier? Or to make space for my new hobby? Your motivation varies according to the goal. One thing is clear: keeping your house in order takes time. Tidying is like a marathon. But you don’t need to take a holiday to get on top of it. It is better to take small steps on a regular basis and take one “corner” at a time than to leave everything as it is. Before-and-after photos help when you’re low on motivation.

What can I do to motivate my partner, children or flatmate? 

Tidying up begins with each individual. I firmly believe that you radiate inner peace when you have put your own space in order. And the peace it brings is infectious. It even helps motivate children. 

Many objects have purely sentimental value. 

And such objects can be found everywhere. Grandma’s tablecloth, for example, or a piece of clothing that you wore to a special event, or a collection of concert and cinema tickets from your youth. It is the same as sport: you “train” to tidy up, to take decisions. You begin with small hurdles, then confront the larger ones. In my coaching sessions, I always begin with clothes. Most people decide relatively quickly what they want to keep and what they want to give away. Only at the end do “sentimental” considerations come into play. 

What criteria are used to make decisions? 

You ask yourself: “Does this item make me happy?” If it does, it should be celebrated: you can perhaps display it or give it more prominence on a day-to-day basis – for example using grandma’s tablecloth more regularly and not just at Christmas.  

And if you decide to give it away? 

Even if it sounds a little odd in our culture, I think it’s nice if we thank the objects. They ultimately made you happy or were useful to you. Getting rid of them does not necessarily mean throwing them away. You can give them away or donate them. And a photo of the surfboard you haven’t used in decades is perhaps enough to remember it. 

What’s more, you get to know yourself better when you take these multiple “keep or discard” decisions. 

What are your three tips for beginners in tiding up? 

First: proceed by category. For example, put all clothes – from the cupboard, cellar or wardrobe, etc. – in one place. This gives you an overview of just how many clothes you have. Second: organize things according to the “same-to-same” principle. And that applies to the “odds-and-ends” drawer too, where batteries, paper-clips and pencil sharpeners are all mixed together. All you need are small boxes to keep the different items separate. Third: allocate a specific place for all items.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ms Paulon.

Susanna Stalder

As a tidying coach, Karine Paulon helps her customers create order out of chaos. She uses the now internationally recognized method developed by Japanese consultant, Marie Kondo. After growing up in Neuchâtel and studying biology in Zurich, Karine Paulon now lives with her family in Thalwil. This is also now the head office of her company, “à jour”.

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