East London Experts: Meet Professional Organiser and Coach Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson
January is often the time to set good intentions. Many of us look to ‘spring clean’ our homes for a fresh start to the year but did you know that apart of the obvious satisfaction and accomplishment of decluttering it’s also a valuable tool for our mental health. We recently spoke to East London decluttering expert Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson about the impact of clutter on our lives and how we can go about tackling it for a calmer, happier life.
Hannah grew up in Yorkshire but her mum hails from East London. Hannah came to London in 2000 to work in the theatre and spent time living in Bow and Leyton. After a short stint in North London, she started a family and settled in Bethnal Green.
How I got into decluttering..
I spent my first few years as a new mum feeling very overwhelmed with ‘stuff’ and not knowing how to get on top of it all. After reading every book on the subject I began decluttering my own home. I then set up my business Declutter with Hannah to support overwhelmed people declutterand organise their homes to help them create warm, well-functioning homes.
I joined APDO (The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) and trained as a life coach to support the work I do. Five and a half years in, it’s an absolute pleasure to support East Londoners to manage their clutter!
To start decluttering you need a goal..
How do you want to feel when you walk into your home? Having a visual goal and an idea of how that will feel should keep you motivated through the process. Many of my clients are looking to make big career changes or life changes and feel like they need to create a safe space at home before they step out of their comfort zone somewhere else. Feeling some control over your home and your stuff, can unlock a lot of other great things.
My top 5 decluttering tips for those wanting to make the best of their homes..
1. Ignore the images on Instagram and Pinterest, create a home that functions well for you.
2. Look at the space you have: if it’s a small space you must keep things simple. You don’t have to be a minimalist, but if you don’t have a lot of cupboard space in the kitchen for example, then try not to bulk-buy food.
3. Have an exit strategy. Many people get stuck actually getting things out of the door. Before you start decluttering, make sure you know how you’ll dispose of the items. Find your local charity shop/ fabric recycling bin etc.
4. Start small. If you’re feeling overwhelmed just start with one drawer or cupboard. The bathroom cabinet can be a good place to start.
5. Ask for help! Friends and family are often willing to help out. If it feels like that might lead to conflict, then have a conversation with a declutterer and see you think it’d be a good fit.
My calm place..
We’re a busy family so it’s not often calm! But I try to keep my bedroom a place I can disappear to and relax with a good book.
I live in a new build property, so the aim has always been to try to add some character with furniture (60s Ladderax) and lots and lots of plants! I’m a bit addicted to shopping at Plant Warehouse on Cambridge Heath Road!
When I want to declutter my mind..
Victoria Park has a special place in my heart, and I also love exploring Epping Forest. I also think Haggerston Park is a little gem. We spent a lot of time in lockdown there.
A sunny bank holiday weekend in East London would be spent..
With lunch somewhere like Yeast bakery near Broadway market or hanging out with friends at The Approach pub. I love a good lunch and a park walk!