top of page

Mini Article

Russ Your Stuff

"Where is my national insurance number mum?" shouted the middle son, who needed it urgently.  "We'll never find it in all your messy papers..."

He was wrong. In less than a minute I had entered my ordered office, located the file clearly marked "Kids: Documents" and quickly thumbed through to the subheading "Employment." Ta-da.  The previous day I'd been hurrying to find a pair of 40 denier tights for a work meeting.  Found them straight away in my newly sorted colour-coded underwear drawer. This is the new me.  And it's thanks to declutterer Russ Doffman @ DeclutteRus


Sparky, diminutive Russ is London's answer to Marie Kondo - only with more humour and charm.

At first, I was sceptical.  What exactly was a declutterer  anyway?  And how on earth was she going to manoeuvre me out of the messy chaos in which I had always operated?   I watched fascinated, as she moved with ease around my house, undaunted by overflowing piles of scattered books, carrier bags stuffed with newspaper cuttings (that I was going to read one day...), endless assorted jars of creams, tangled heaps of socks, and my husband, muttering to her "it's hopeless.. you're wasting your time...every orifice in this house ...crammed...stuffed...

One room at a time, Russ set to work.  Each drawer, each cupboard, each work top was tackled with a strict "bin, donate, keep" regime.  Our work together settled into a rhythm as we put stuff - so much stuff! - into black bags for rubbish, black bags for the charity shop, and a separate pile for the things I needed or wanted to keep.  And for those items that survive the cull, Russ has a never-ending supply of innovative ways to store them.  A mere glance from her silenced my wheedling attempt to cling to, not one but, fourteen indentical invitations to my son's bar mitzvah several years before.  "We are going to create a memory box for you," she said firmly, "and you can keep one invitation in here.  You won't need more."

Russ is very keen on order and each thing in the house having its own "place."  And if that place doesn't exist, she simply creates it.  A discarded closet stuffed with empty gift bags, bits of old make up, used cheque books and CD's has been transformed into a jaunty stationery cupboard where the whole family  can find neatly stacked  Sellotape, folders, clear document wallets (very useful for homework), paperclips, pens, pencils and rulers.

In my small home office, ancient receipts and expired vouchers have been dumped.  Bin liners  bursting with "just in case" bits of paper and documents have been shredded.  My stapler is fully visible and replete with staples.  I am now the proud owner of a colourful "to do" tray, "work" tray and  "to read when I have time" tray.  My paperwork - a previous source of anxiety verging on terror - is a dream.  Every document worth keeping has been carefully filed and put in bright folders:  FINANCE; HEALTH; SCHOOL; CAR.  With coloured sub sections.  I can locate things.  And it's life-enhancing.

When I open my wardrobe, I see at once everything I possess - in colour coded organised glory.  I can create new outfits from my existing clothes - I'd lost track of what I had because of so much "stuff" stuffed in my wardrobe.  Now that "stuff" has been "Russed": scarves gathered and draped on an ingenious scarf holder, underwear and jumpers folded and sorted into special canvas dividers.  My bookshelves - neat, ordered and and a pleasure to skim.  And best of all for me? Honey She Decluttered the Kids! Teenage boys no less... Old swimming trunks tossed into the infamous black bin liner.  Ancient, broken football trophies - choose one or two, put them in the memory box, chuck the rest.  Summer clothes folded in neat piles - shorts, vests, t-shirts, sandals in a separate drawer - so easy now to pack for holidays; inside out t-shirts strewn accross the floor now hanging proudly in the colour coded wardrobe. "Boys," said Russ with a smile, "nothing belongs on your floor does itIt either goes on a hanger in your wardrobe, or in your new laundry basket."  They listened, stunned.  There was no stopping Russ - she even tackled their school books!  Topics were  now grouped together in bound labelled files, textbooks ordered, loose papers glued into workbooks.  She organised them on the upstairs landing shelves, now decluttered from all my rubbish. "Nice for them to have their school books outside their bedrooms," she remarked, "it means their bedrooms are cosier."  I was falling in love, I wanted her to move in...


After a few sessions with Russ, my house feels like it has come back from a long holiday more chilled and able to breathe.  I too am breathing easier.  I hadn't appreciated just how much stress I was causing myself by not being able to locate things.  And I believe  that my new clean, organised environment has improved my ability to think more clearly.  Decluttering with Russ has given me a huge boost and made me feel - unusual for me - competent and in control.


And for Russ, that's the best perk of the job.  She understands the various ways in which people's lives can improve when they organise and clear their physical space and gets an obvious kick out of making environments more positive places.


And there's something about decluttering the past that is truly cathartic.  Before my stuff was Russed, I had so many random items from the past, scattered around the house, mainly in the bottom of wardrobes or in the attic.  Now I have a treasured memory box with select, carefully chosen keepsakes.  The 40-odd scribbled drawings from the kids' primary school have emerged as three lovely quirky pieces - one for each child.  Dozens of random bits of baby clothes have given way for five special items, each with a treasured memory.  Hundreds of CD's and old cassette tapes that I have been unable to part with have been whittled down to the ones that really mean something.


Russ has helped me let go of my fear of losing the past.  And by encouraging me to actively choose a handful of cherished  treasures, she's made the future seem clearer.

bottom of page