Professional Organiser Vicky Silverthorn talks to Happiful about Covid-19, why she loves her job and the best way to begin decluttering your space - start small!

Vicky Silverthorn knows all too well the impact Covid-19 can have, as she’s experienced the virus herself. She’s thankfully on the mend, and speaking from her home in South West London she says she's looking forward to life after lockdown - and starting to help others again.

Vicky has worked as a Professional Organiser for over ten years, penning the brilliant book 'Start With Your Sock Draw' in the process. Organising for her, is about improving our mental wellbeing by improving the space we live in.

Vicky - how are you doing?

I’m good now! I came down with Covid on 16 March and was unwell for about ten days with mild and rotten symptoms, but seemed to recover and then was unwell again and that time the symptoms knocked me for six. In total, I was ill for around 24 days with a small break in the middle.

Now, I just feel so grateful every day and that’s where I am in my headspace. Also, people who ‘showed up’ for me at that time just blew me away. I think because I’m by myself people have been extra lovely. A friend went shopping for me, and another dropped flowers at my door - and that just kept me going.

I also feel like I’m mentally a couple of weeks behind everyone else when it comes to lockdown, because it didn’t feel like lockdown when I was ill because I couldn’t do anything anyway. Now, I just feel happy and safe in my bubble.

I had been working with Stephanie Peltier The Happiness Coach (who will also be speaking at Live Life Well) before this all happened. I put my level of happiness now, in a huge way, down to her teachings.

I suffer from anxiety, I’m someone who has to work hard at staying ‘up’ and I haven’t had to work hard recently. I’ve been incorporating her practises into my day, they’re really easy and don’t take up a lot of time. I wake up and say, “Good Morning World!” and look out of the window. It makes me smile and puts me in the right headspace.

I don’t even do it consciously anymore, I just do it. Thanks to Stephanie, I now know the neuroscience behind it and that’s what convinced me.

You were recently involved in the Live Life Well Virtual Weekender, how was that?

Yes, and it was phenomenal what the organisers Alex and Lottie pulled together in just two weeks!

I know them well, and also worked with them when I spoke at the Cheltenham Wellbeing Festival last year, in connection with John Lewis as I’m their official storage expert. I talked to people about their surroundings and the connection with their mental health and wellbeing.

I think that for some Professional Organisers it’s solely about the look and feel of products and space, whereas I also like to look more deeply at the connection between space and your mind. There are many studies about the correlation between environment and your mental health.

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. THE IMPORTANT THINGS . It really is a great time to reflect on the things that actually matter in life and I think we would all agree there are many things that’s we’ve previously prioritised which we quite simply would not right now. . We are all missing out on something in some way shape or form but I think there is also a wave of gratefulness sweeping the nation. . It’s no coincidence that so many of us have taken to tidying, cleaning and decluttering whilst being at home. Gaining more control of our immediate environment is very natural when we have little control over many other things right now. When you’re doing it it’s also very much a mindful activity, focusing on this and nothing else just for a while. . #shoesnotmine #declutter #organise #stuff #professionalorganiser #control #productivity

A post shared by 10yrs Professional Organiser (@youneedavicky) on

Tell us more about your role as a Professional Organiser?

I’ve been doing this for ten years now. Ten years ago when I told people what I was doing they looked at me very strangely because they couldn’t quite believe it was a job!

What I love about it is the transformation in people’s physical space but also the reaction that they then have to it - it’s like immediate clarity, their shoulders go down and it's almost as if they’ve taken a huge sigh of relief when they realise how much more they can see in their home.

There’s a huge connection between visual chaos and distraction and how it can negatively impact your mood and decision making. The more choices you have, the harder it can be - and the way I see it is our lives, day to day, are a constant stream of decision making, and I believe that within the home, the easier we can make those decisions, the more space our mind has.

Our homes shouldn’t be hard work. Our homes should be calm and serene, as much as possible.

Lockdown has had a huge impact on the way we view our homes, hasn’t it?

Absolutely. We’re spending more time in our homes, so we want to enjoy our space but the main factor is that we have no control over what’s happening in the world now, so we look to what we can control and that’s our home environment.

When I was feeling so unwell, I was finding it so hard because all I wanted to do was clean my space and I didn’t have the energy to. And I don’t like cleaning!

Also, we’re now working at home - but I think it’s better for our minds right now to say “we’re working” and then in the evenings we’re “at home”. It’s a better description.

What would you say to someone who just doesn’t know where to start decluttering?

Step one is to reframe the projects and how you think about it. You can’t start with, “I’m going to declutter my home”, because it's far too big and time consuming. No wonder you might freeze or procrastinate.

Move your thinking from home to room and that’s still too big! Now focus on one specific area - a cupboard perhaps, and declutter that in one or two days, and celebrate that success!

Lessen the pressure on yourself, you're getting somewhere even if you’ve decluttered one cupboard in two days.

Find out more about Vicky's work at You Need A Vicky.

Article updated 18 May 2020