project organise

How to Master Spring Cleaning with Project Organise

Talking all things decluttering, organising and spring cleaning is a professional home organiser Elaine Adams, founder of Project Organise

Caroline Dask

Journalist at Luxe


There’s a good reason spring is the favourite season of so many. It gently reminds us of new beginnings and allows us to have a fresh state of mind. While so many of us anticipate the idea of spring, something that comes with it might not sound so appealing.

Yes, I’m talking about the spring clean season! Personally, tidying up is somewhat therapeutic for me, as long as I make it a ritual. Music on, cleaning supplies at the ready and I’m on the move towards a cleaner future.

However, those who would rather leave for work and come back to a fresher, cleaner and brighter space will be pleased to hear about Project Organise.

Project Organise Elaine

Elaine Adams is the founder and face behind the company. Originally from Cumbria, Elaine settled in the North East after coming to university here and, naturally, it was love at first sight.

After finding information on professional home organisers, Elaine made it her life’s mission to help people in the North East enjoy spring without the stress of dealing with the ‘big bad’ spring clean season.

When and how did you start Project Organise?

Project Organise is based in Northumberland and provides a bespoke organising, decluttering and PA service, for busy people and businesses, supporting them to live life more organised. It was born out of a desire to do something I really enjoy doing, which is organising. I started it in October 2021, following a career change and having always wanted to run my own business.

Which areas of the North East does Project Organise cover?

I work all over the North East but predominantly in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Cumbria and County Durham. I work in people’s homes as well as business premises and I also work virtually, providing support remotely where appropriate. But I am also happy to travel outside of the North East and Cumbria!

Consultation

Project Organise

Could you describe what services Project Organise offers?

Project Organise supports homeowners and businesses in making things organised and easier, by doing some of the to-do list for you. I support home owners and businesses with clearing clutter, organising rooms/spaces, creating home storage systems, helping with life admin, downsizing before a move, organising meetings and events, travel research and booking, and lots more!

Could you walk me through a typical consultation process with your clients?

A free consultation either by phone or video (FaceTime, WhatsApp or Teams) depending on the client’s preference takes place to discuss their requirements and what they would like to achieve. We discuss specific problem areas, the steps needed to declutter and organise as well as their budget and my service and pricing. If they wish the work to commence, we then look at availability and confirm a date and time. I also give clients the option to send me photos in advance if they wish.

How does a client prepare for Project Organise sessions? Do you find that they often work with you, or do you mostly work on your own?

I always tell clients to not do anything before I arrive and certainly don’t go out and buy any storage solutions until we have reduced and edited what they have. You don’t need to tidy, hoover or clean. The only thing I ask of them is to decide if we are tackling multiple areas, where they would prefer to start and what’s overwhelming or annoying them the most. That’s where I tend to start a client’s organising journey.

Decluttering

Project Organise

When clearing out a home or an office, what do you tackle first?

I always suggest starting with the area of the home or office that is causing the most stress, or feelings of overwhelm. This varies depending on the client I’m working with. Sometimes depending on the client, we work between multiple rooms, as often items are between many rooms and need organising into categories and stored together.

When decluttering, how do you decide what should stay and what should go?

This is always down to the client. I never make anyone throw anything away. In discussion with the client, we talk about whether they envisage using it in the future, what value it holds, if it’s to be kept, it forms part of finding a permanent home for the item, if not it is either sold, discarded or donated.

A big part of my role is holding people to account and posing gentle questions as to why an item is needed, providing suggestions and challenging quantities, all in a friendly positive manner to help with decision-making. If it is an item of sentimental value that isn’t going to be used, but the client wants to keep it, we look at storing these types of items in memory-style boxes.

Wellbeing

Project Organise

What are the benefits of having an organised space?

The term ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ is one I’m sure most people will have heard of and I’m a firm believer and see it first-hand with my clients. They tell me time and time again that they feel like a weight has been lifted when a room or space has been edited and organised. The benefits of decluttering and organising include:

  • Reduction in stress and anxiety
  • Boosts productivity and self-worth
  • Improved sleep and promotes relaxation
  • Easier to clean and maintainable spaces

What are some mindset changes needed when going through this decluttering process?

Understand that possessions are just things and do not define you or your worth. If you can practice letting go of items that no longer serve you a purpose or bring you enjoyment, then you will instil behaviour that you can repeat.

I quite often hear that an item costs money, but I always say it’s not worth anything or worth keeping if you aren’t going to use it, it just becomes another item to manage. I’m a big fan of Vinted for selling any unwanted clothing that’s in good condition. You may as well make something back if it was an item of value as opposed to keeping it and not using it.

I also think that shifting from consumerism to mindful intentional buying can greatly affect the build-up of items. We all need to be better at considering the environmental and human impact of our purchasing.

Organising

Project Organise

What are some of the biggest challenges when organising a space?

Having space and maximising that space! Some clients find it hard to envision so it’s trusting that we can try out a particular storage solution for items, but if we need to change it we can. It’s what works best for the client.

What kind of methods and strategies do you implement when decluttering or organising a home/office?

It’s a 4 step approach:

Step 1: Reduce/Edit your Possessions

This is the decluttering stage, this doesn’t just apply to physical items, it’s your subscriptions, phone notifications, paperwork, and emails, all left unmanaged, they become cluttered and overwhelming. Question whether you need to keep items and what purpose they serve. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and others if doing this with other householders.

Step 2: Categorise

Categorise what you have. So, kitchen for example. Do you have all of your plates together, glasses in one cupboard, and food in another, or is everything mixed up and all over the place? This is where clutter starts to build as the process of finding items becomes more difficult, you buy replacements as you don’t realise what you already have. So, if you can categorise items, it makes it much easier to then manage them.

Step 3: Contain

This is where we are talking about storage solutions, so once you have reduced and categorised what you have, you then have to contain it in an organised way. Storage boxes, clear preferably so you can see what you have, drawer dividers, turntables so you can access items at the back of the cupboard or fridge, for example.

There is an array of options out there, John Lewis, B&M, and IKEA are all good for storage and organisation inspiration and I also like to reuse what people have. When you declutter you will naturally free up boxes and containers that you can reuse, again cutting down on buying more.

This is also where labelling comes in handy, some people love it, others hate it, but if a label on a container ensures everyone knows what’s supposed to go in it, this goes a long way in helping like-for-like items to be contained together and easier to find when you need them.

Step 4: Maintain

Ensuring you keep the organised, tidy environment you’ve created. Without this step things will become clutter again. It’s important to set time aside to organise and put items away. If you undergo the task of reducing what you have and organising it, you need to maintain it, otherwise you will end up back at square one.

I always say to Project Organise clients, that everything you bring into your home/business is another item you need to manage, find a home for, tidy away, clean. So be mindful of what you bring in in the first place, thus reducing the effort needed to maintain an organised home/business and not letting your possessions overwhelm you.

The Project Organise website mentions that you also work virtually. What does this process look like?

Yes, this can be done virtually if people prefer, however, it is definitely more efficient to work with clients in person. But if there is a reason why this can’t be done, I can conduct the process virtually by discussing the problem areas, setting achievable objectives and time scales for completion as well as providing advice on storage and organising solutions.

What are some misconceptions people have about home organisation and hoarding habits that you’d debunk?

One misconception I hear is that decluttering and organising are quick fixes that solve all household problems. I’d say from my experience that it is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and maintenance. It’s not a one-time solution, but a continuous practice of evaluating and managing your possessions.

I would also say that some think home organisation is all about aesthetics, and although it can improve the visual appearance of the home, the main purpose is to create a functional and efficient living environment that enhances well-being, making daily life a bit easier.

Find more about Project Organise here.