By Dale Western on 05 January 2015

Your home is your castle, as they say, and if you've recently insured it (and your belongings) with us - bravo! We'll keep your hideaway from the world safe as, well, houses.

Great, so that's your home taken care of - but may we ask a personal question? How is it looking, post-Christmas? We're going to take a wild guess and suggest that it's looking more haphazard than homely, so here's how to de-clutter without too much stress.

1: Be ruthless

There are two hard and fast rules when it comes to chucking out clutter - the first is 'Do I use this any more?' and the second is 'Honestly, will I ever use this again?'. If the answer to both questions is 'No', you know what you should do. There is a third rule - 'Never de-clutter when you're hungover'. This is because you'll probably be feeling a bit fragile, and you'll get bogged down with sentimentality. This must be avoided at all costs.

2: No kids allowed

Children fall into two categories when it comes to getting rid of clutter. They'll either try and bin everything, including the kitchen sink, the cat, and DVDs they 'don't like'. Then there are the little helpers who won't let you throw anything away as they suddenly become disproportionally attached to everything. That old hoover nozzle? It's an old friend. And don't get them started on the rusty baking trays - they're staying too.

3: Go room by room

It's time to break your house apart (calm down, not like that) and tackle this task room by room. Find the areas that need the most assistance, and set aside a weekend day, so you know you'll have plenty of time to give it the attention it deserves, and get that room sorted properly (with time at the end for a thorough clean). Other, less problematic areas can be handled in an evening, providing you have a few bin bangs handy and someone willing to help out/provide tea.

4: Ask permission

Here's the issue with the word 'clutter'; what you think is junk may well be someone else's treasure. Exercise caution if you come across items that you're not sure about, and make sure you check with your housemates/partner/teenagers. You may think those old Friends videos are worthless (let's face it, they are), but others may not agree.

5: Don't go overboard

There's a fine line between energetic enthusiasm and binning everything in sight due to post-Christmas lethargy. Don't chuck those old pictures because you can't be bothered to put them in albums, and don't throw out those old school books and report cards because putting them in the loft seems like too much of a struggle. You're supposed to be de-cluttering, not reinventing yourself.

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