Tidy up your life, with STACEY SOLOMON: Colour code your clutter!

This might sound funny to some, but for me, tidying and organising has become my form of meditation.

Honestly, if I go to a spa, or someone says you’ve got to try this calming meditation — blah, blah, blah — I just can’t lie there and think of nothing. I find it absolutely impossible.

I end up thinking: ‘Oh, I’ve got this thing to do later, will I get it done . . . and also, what if that other thing happens?’ 

This might sound funny to some, but for me, tidying and organising has become my form of meditation 

My brain will just not shut up! Things slip into my mind and out again, and it just doesn’t work for me — I don’t find it relaxing.

But while I think traditional meditation might not be for everyone, I genuinely think there’s some form of meditation that is. 

Mine is to focus on something completely — and that’s what crafting, tidying and organising lets me do.

When I’m sitting there, pulling everything out of a cupboard, looking at all the colours and the sizes of all the items I’ve got, working out how best they’re going to go back in there, I’m not thinking of anything else other than the task at hand. 

My brain can’t chatter away because it’s too busy thinking about how it’s going to achieve what is in front of me.

Tidy up tweaks

Some mornings I wake up a little anxious, wondering, am I going to get everything done? Am I doing enough for the kids? I don’t know, silly things. 

I just worry. So when I wake up like that, I get the notepad I keep by my bed and draw a jar. I write nice things inside it, just positive thoughts — little things I’m really grateful for, or excited about, and that make me happy.

Maybe tidying and organising could become a form of meditation for you too.

One of the things I find particularly therapeutic is colour coding when I’m tidying and organising things away. After taking everything out of whatever cupboard or drawer I’m working on, one of the first things I do is take in the colours of the stuff.

And then that becomes one of the things they can be organised by. So, for example, candles get sorted by their colours first, then their sizes, and I organise the boys’ packets of crisps in colour order in the snack cupboard.

I even have my phone apps ordered by colour so they look like a beautiful rainbow on the home screen!

But, how you organise is down to your personal preference.

Some people prefer things in size order, others go by colour or brand (so everything from one brand is grouped together) when organising.

My personal preference is generally to go by size first and then I like to colour code — for some reason seeing things ordered that way makes me happy.

But if I put things in colour order, if they’re not in size order too then there’s something about the unevenness of it all that really gets on my nerves. So I’ll go in size order first, and try to balance out the colours as best I can.

Just remember though, it’s up to you to pick a system that suits whatever you’re tidying and organising — and that’ll be what feels right to you personally.

And the great thing about that is there’s no way you can get it wrong!

Golden memory boxes

The golden rule when it comes to being tidy is this: if you don’t have the space and you don’t use it, or you haven’t used it in a long time, then get rid of it.

But I have one big exception to that rule — if something has sentimental value, I don’t get rid of it.

Instead, I’ve made memory boxes for me, all the boys and Joe. I’ve covered them in wrapping paper and labelled them with our names.

And that’s where those treasures get tidied away to. 

What to put in a memory box 

It’s all about what reminds you of happy times, or adventures you’ve been on.

For me, it’s about drawings that the boys have done (only the decent ones), their hospital stuff from when they were born, tickets to movies they’ve been to.

Or, if we go to the beach or woods, they’ll pick up sticks and stones — and obviously I can’t just have a load of sticks and stones around the house! They just go in their memory boxes, too.

I don’t keep all of their birthday cards — so I’m doing a bit of sorting as I go along — but for special birthdays like Rex’s first and Zach’s 13th, I will keep those.

Birthday Card Book

On Rex’s first birthday, I really wanted to keep all his cards afterwards, so I came up with this special birthday book:

1. Stack your cards inside one another, starting from big on the outside to the smallest in the middle, then hole punch through all of them.

2. Tie them together with a bit of string, and you’ve made a little birthday card book. I keep Rex’s in his memory box so when he’s older — or whenever I want to, more like! — we can look through them together.

How to turn a clear up into me-time

Let me tell you, it’s not just the end result of Tap To Tidy that makes me happy, it’s the getting there that’s good for me, too.

Tidying is the process — what makes me feel calmer, happier and more in control. And being organised is the result.

On Saturday, I shared tips and organising techniques, to help get you going with your own Tap To Tidy sessions. Now I want to help you get a sense of how you might fit that into your busy life, especially if you’ve got children home-learning at the moment; maybe you’re working from home yourself.

It might help if I share with you how I find the time for my organising, crafts and other projects. If you look at what works for me, you can then tweak it to fit in with your own lifestyle and commitments.

In more normal times, if I’m at home on a weekday, the boys would usually be at school. I’d wait until Rex has his morning nap time to do something for myself.

Whether that’s some crafting, or organising a cupboard, or getting up to date with the washing or whatever, I really like to use his naps as time for me. With older children it might be about finding time when they’re playing.

Likewise, you could be working, or studying, or home-schooling the kids, but it’s all about looking for those little pockets of time in your day to make the most of them. When the kids are watching a favourite film maybe . . . or finding a quiet half hour between finishing work and putting the evening meal on.

Even if you’re not a worrier like me, you might find that having a bit of structure to your day works well for you. Especially as life’s so different at the moment.

A really loose structure — it has to be loose, and you have to be comfortable knowing that, if something doesn’t happen, it doesn’t matter. But if you’ve got little points to look forward to during the day, it can distract your mind from going off into dark places and help you to have a happier time.

It’s not rigid, and it’s not guaranteed. If I don’t get lots done, I don’t beat myself up. But, if I can hit certain points, then I feel like I’ve had an organised day.

Even if I just:

■ Make my bed.

■ Prepare food or a fun snack for the boys.

■ Have some me time with crafting or organising.

Just by achieving those three things I’m able to tell myself ‘I had some wins today’.

You’ll see how making the bed is at the top of my list — if there is one thing I try to do every day, even if it ends up only getting done at 5pm, that’s it.

You might have a different task at the top of your list — but whatever the small tasks are that matter most to you, if you just try and hit those points each day you can say you’re winning, too.

Tap into your Golden Hour

If I’m awake at 6am and no one else is up, then that’s my golden hour — a little bit of precious time to myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love and live for my children, but having a moment alone is fundamental to my mental health. I don’t just jump straight out of bed. I like to lie there for a good 20 minutes and just enjoy my bed and the silence. I might go through emails on my phone, see what work I’ve got coming up, or research things that I want to do in the house.

Then it’s downstairs to let Theo, our teacup Chihuahua Pomeranian, and Mitzy the cat out. Usually, I’ll sit in the garden waiting for the animals to go to the toilet, while I think about what I’ve got to get done for the day.

Then, I will come back inside and make myself a cup of tea: builder’s, milk, two sugars. And I’ll probably chuck the washing in the laundry baskets in the utility room and put a load on — that way I stay on top of it. Then, if no one else is up, I will get started on a task — and because it’s just me I can focus on what I’m doing and get it done that bit quicker.

Tidy up tweaks

When I’m buying any storage product, I always ask myself, can I see what I’ve got in that?

And just apply that rule every single time — because if you can’t see what you’ve got, it doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to do!

Tidy up tweaks

It’s impossible to keep everything organised and perfect all the time. If there’s a place where you want to let it all go, that’s fine — a naughty cupboard where you can just dump mess and clutter out of sight.

Get the week’s lunches sorted

With the kids at home at the moment, making a week’s worth of sandwiches with different kinds of filling and putting them in the freezer at the start of the week makes things that bit easier.

Just leave some in the fridge to thaw each night, ready for the next day.

I do bagels with ham and cheese, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, jam, peanut butter — there’s not much that can’t freeze (although Marmite doesn’t come out that great, I don’t think). Do what you can to make it easy on yourself! 

Organise for less drama 

Being organised lets you get through the day with minimal drama because you know where everything is and you’re not tripping over clutter.

And the less stressed you are, the better you’ll feel in yourself. Having a place for everything (like your keys for example) means you don’t end up running around thinking, where the hell are they — even if people don’t always stick to it.

If you’ve got a nice side table, then a lovely bowl would do — if you’ve a candle that’s run out, but you still love the look of the holder it came in, just pour in a little boiling water to lift out any excess wax then use that for your keys.

Or you could use an old chopping board, screw in gold hooks for your keys and hang that on the wall. Even just a hook will do. The main thing is, that’s where they go, so when you need them you don’t need to waste time looking.

Ready for Refill Hour

Sunday is when I refill everything — all my jars, containers and dispensers — and make sure we’re all stocked up for the week ahead.

So I refill all my candles, all my cleaning and detergent bottles from the big bulk packets I use, all of my diffusers, even the egg holder and the bread bin — anything I can think of in the house.

I genuinely enjoy the whole process of refill. It doesn’t have to be Sunday, of course — choose whichever day suits your routine. You might find a Monday evening, say, is the perfect time.

But it works really well to have a bit of time to get everything refilled, and then you don’t have to think about running out of anything all week. 

Shelf for bathroom bits and bobs 

I had a random piece of wood in the junk trunk — it had probably come off the side of something —and I thought, that could make a nice shelf to keep things tidy in the bathroom. I just had to add a few bits . . .

If you want to make your own bathroom tidy, here’s how:

I used:

■ Drill and drill bit

■ Small, flat piece of wood

■ Chunky piece of rope

■ eight brass hooks

■ Stick-on hook

1. I drilled a hole either end of the wood, got some thick rope and threaded it through, tied a knot at each end, and that was it — I had a shelf ready to hang!

2. Then I screwed eight little brass hooks into the bottom of the shelf, to hang things like my scented bath bags from them.

3. I hung the shelf up on the wall by the rope. I didn’t want to drill into my bathroom tiles, so I used a really strong stick-on hook, which has worked fine.

4. I arranged some bathroom bits and bobs on there — it’s perfect!

Stack up your apps

I’ve even used my Tap To Tidy seven steps to organise the apps on my phone. So, you get them all out — take all your apps out of any folders they are already in. 

You do your mental scan, thinking about what you’ve got. Sort through them, deleting any that you’re not keeping. And then you find the survivors a home.

I organise mine by colour — going from blue to green, to yellow, orange, pink, red, white and black. So, the Facebook app is blue — it will be on my blue page; Instagram, that’s pink, so it’s on my pink page.

There are a couple of miscellaneous apps on the last page that don’t fit into any one colour category (which upsets me; I almost deleted those apps!). 

The result is that your phone looks like a rainbow, but also you know exactly where everything is. 

Time to spruce up your tech 

The cupboard underneath the telly is for the boys’ consoles and computer games.

To keep them tidy, I’ve got a piece of pegboard in there — just propped against the back of the cupboard, with attachments (shelves, jars for the power leads and wire brackets to hold the consoles) to keep all their kit. 

Fridge clear-out

The fridge always gets tidied on Sunday, too. I try to use everything in my fridge through the week, so I can tidy and refill it during refill hour.

I will pull everything out, give the fridge a good clean, check the dates, and put everything back that’s still good to eat.

The things that aren’t in date I try to use up in what I call a ‘mouldy veg dinner’ featuring everything that needs eating (it’s not really mouldy, but it’s veg and bits that aren’t the freshest).

I chuck them into a pan and make something out of them, whether it’s soup, a Bolognese, a veg stew — anything, to make sure I use everything up.

The fridge always gets tidied on Sunday, too

I try to use everything in my fridge through the week, so I can tidy and refill it during refill hour

The fridge always gets tidied on Sunday, too. I try to use everything in my fridge through the week, so I can tidy and refill it during refill hour

Bring order to wire and cable chaos 

Here’s another of those tasks that we all put off for ever, but that when you finally tackle you feel like a proper superhero.

Everyone’s got that wire drawer, or wire cupboard, where you keep all your electrical stuff — chargers, leads, computer bits and TV cables — and it can easily get to be a bit of a tip.

First, do not panic: just start as we always do, and take every single wire out of that drawer.

You’ll probably find loads of wires for things that you don’t even own anymore

When I did mine, I found chargers for an iPhone 1, my first ever iPhone — I haven’t even seen one of them in about 15 years so why did I still have the charger?

You’ll probably find loads of wires for things that you don’t even own anymore. When I did mine, I found chargers for an iPhone 1, my first ever iPhone — I haven’t even seen one of them in about 15 years so why did I still have the charger?

Once you’ve got it all out and had a look through, sort the wires into piles: what you actually use and want to keep; what you don’t use and are going to get rid of (and, if there’s any you need but haven’t got, make a note so you can pick some up later).

Anything you are not sure about, you can stick in a Maybe pile — but it should be fairly easy to know if it’s for the Keep pile or not, once you’ve worked out if you still use it.

You’ll probably find loads of wires for things that you don’t even own anymore. When I did mine, I found chargers for an iPhone 1, my first ever iPhone — I haven’t even seen one of them in about 15 years so why did I still have the charger?

And there were SCART leads in there, cables which link your TV to your devices — which I didn’t need, because my telly was already set up and working.

We end up holding on to unnecessary wires just because they came in the packet with something, and we worry that we might need them one day.

You can get rid of them responsibly — check with your local authority or a campaign called recycle to see the options near you.

So, if you look at a wire and think, I’ve got no idea what that’s for, so I’d better keep it, I say, it’s time to get rid.

And if you do happen to come across something that you suddenly need a wire for, it’s so easy these days to find that wire through an online search and have it arrive in the post within a day or two.

Declutter your mind

The last thing I tidy at night is my brain. Otherwise, when I get under the covers, I can lie there for ages, thinking, I mustn’t forget to do this tomorrow. And have I done that? Have I done enough for the boys or have I got that ready for their lessons?

So I started drawing a little dustbin — for my brain junk, I call it. I have to see things visualised in some way, or they don’t make any sense to me. I’ve always been like that — for me, everything needs to be a picture.

So now I just write all my thoughts in that bin before bed. And then it’s almost as if you’re saying to yourself, ‘Right, you’ve got all the junk onto the paper.’

Everything you’re worried about, anything you might forget, it’s all there. You don’t need to think about it. The day is over, and you can sleep easy . . .


Ask yourself… am I ever going to wear that thong?

Luckily, I’ve got a name for tackling the bigger tidying tasks — the ones to save for when you’ve got a bit more time to spare

Luckily, I’ve got a name for tackling the bigger tidying tasks — the ones to save for when you’ve got a bit more time to spare

Luckily, I’ve got a name for tackling the bigger tidying tasks — the ones to save for when you’ve got a bit more time to spare.

I call them hero tasks because they’re the ones that, after you’ve finally got round to doing them, make you feel like a superhero!

And the wardrobe is definitely one of them. I love shopping for clothes. The problem is, I find it really difficult to get rid of the ones I don’t wear.

I think, I might wear that one day . . . so my wardrobe can get out of control.

However, I’ve started getting on top of that now. If I haven’t worn something in the past year or if I can’t remember the last time I wore it, then I have to give it away because I’m not getting the use out of it.

With clothes, I do think if an item’s gone through every season of the year and you still haven’t worn it, then someone else deserves it.

Where To Start With Wardrobe Chaos

Just like tidying and organising anything else, first everything’s got to come out. But when it comes to organising my wardrobe I use a really slow and thorough process.

Things come out section by section. I’ll start with underwear, for example. I take it all out of the drawer, spread it over the floor and just look at it.

Tidy up tweaks

The more space I have, the more I’ll fill it. A lot of people use space-saving velvety hangers. But I prefer my hangers to be chunky — mostly white, wooden ones — because it gives me less space to just keep collecting clothes and forces me to be a bit more vigilant about getting rid of stuff.

I’ve noticed with clothes — you’re probably the same — that I end up gravitating towards exactly the same things every day.

That means I have all this stuff that ends up never getting worn.

With my underwear, there might be three pairs of granny pants that just circulate in and out of the wash. I love them and they’re comfy and that’s what I want to wear. So, I will pick out those things — the ones I go for every day — and I’ll put them in my Definitely Keeping pile.

Once I’ve found a home for those, I’ll look through the remaining pile of stuff that I’ve been ignoring: the Maybes.

I’ll ask those all-important questions, like: am I ever actually going to wear this? Is this thong comfortable? Do I like this matching set?

Then I’ll just get rid of anything I know, deep down, that I’m not going to wear. If it’s been sitting in there for ages and I’ve not worn it, then it really has to go.

You just keep going, section by section. Remove every single thing, lay it out, and look at it for a while. Do I wear it? Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I want to keep it? Is it worth me keeping it?

As you’re doing that, put aside the things that you’re definitely going to keep.

With the rest, instead of dividing it into Bin It or Recycle piles, the first thing I’ll do is say to my mum, my sister, Joe’s sisters, do you want anything?

They’ll have a rummage and if they don’t want it, it’ll go straight to charity.

I find some charity shops don’t accept clothes, or certain items, because they’ve got too much stock already.

So I try to find the places that need them and get it to them. There’s a good charity that collects bras (, so I end up donating to them, for example.

Order clothes in a rainbow style

I like to hang up my clothes by colour. So instead of grouping together dresses, shirts, whatever, everything is organised by shade: white, black, pink.

That works for me, as most of the time, I’ll look and think, what colour do I want to wear today?

If you want to try it, sort your Definitely Keeping pile by colours before you put it all back.

Then, tackle just one colour at a time.

Put your whites back into the wardrobe first — hang the white dresses next to each other, then white shirts, white jumpers, white trousers — then go on to the next colour. 

By the time you’re done, everything’s colour-coordinated, and each colour section is coordinated by garments, too. It’s so satisfying.

I like to hang up my clothes by colour. So instead of grouping together dresses, shirts, whatever, everything is organised by shade: white, black, pink

I like to hang up my clothes by colour. So instead of grouping together dresses, shirts, whatever, everything is organised by shade: white, black, pink

Season Swaps 

I will do a big swap out twice a year. If we’re going into autumn/ winter, I will take all of my summer stuff out and put it in vacuum bags; and I’ll do the same with my heavier clothes when the weather starts warming up.

And I’ll use those moments to have a tidy: spread everything across the floor, work out what I loved wearing.

Anything that I didn’t put on will go, and anything that I adored will be put into a vacuum bag that I keep underneath our bed.

Sort your drawers

My system’s a bit different in my drawers: they are colour- coordinated, but first I group everything by what it is — it makes it easier to find things.

So, my top drawer is jeans and jeggings, arranged so they go from black to dark to light through to white.

The next drawer down is gym gear — leggings on one side, sports bras on the other. That’s the drawer that never gets opened, I’m not gonna lie! Then I’ve got a drawer for two-piece matching tracksuits and lounge sets, and another for swimming costumes and bikinis, and they’re all in colour order, too.

On the opposite side of my dressing room, my top drawer is for jewellery — I don’t use a jewellery box because I forget what I’ve got. Instead, I spread it out in a drawer and use a lot of little things to keep everything in place: ring holders, necklace holders, bracelet holders, and little plastic tubs with compartments.

Underneath that are my accessories — hats, belts, sunglasses — all in fabric boxes (I use Ikea ones) to keep them tidy. Next is underwear: bras on one side, knickers on the other, in little fabric boxes as well.

The drawer down from that is pyjamas, and I’ve also got a drawer of odds and sods: sarongs or random gilets. That’s a handy home for the bits and pieces you can’t think of a category for.

Tap To Tidy by Stacey Solomon, to be published by Ebury on March 4, £20. © 2021 Stacey Solomon. 

To order a copy for £11.99 go to or call 020 3308 9193. 

Free UK delivery on orders over £20. Promotional price valid until March 2, 2021

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