We’ve all heard of “Spring Cleaning”, but now that we think about it, Autumn is the perfect season to tidy as well. It’s cooling down, the kids are back in school, and it’s an ideal time to put into action all of the ideas and inspiration we’ve accumulated over the summer.
The transition back to “work mode” can feel much easier with a clean slate, which is why decluttering our homes – and minds – is crucial to establishing the right mindset and building solid routines.
Lucky for us, professional organiser, author, and mum to Lily-Jo, Barbara Bray (or, ‘Babs’ as she is affectionately known), has just released her very own book entitled ‘The A to Z of Declutter’ – which is PACKED with practical and easy to understand tips to help us simplify our physical environments. Not only that, but with years of work in the cleaning and decluttering industry, she shares her insight into the impact clutter can have on our mental health. Babs is also generously donating all sales proceeds of her book to go to support The Lily-Jo Project, which you can buy in the shop here.
We are so excited to feature her in this month’s blog article, where she shares a bit more about her story and experience – enjoy!
Introducing Barbara Bray
Barbara Bray (Babs as she’s affectionately known), has always been passionate about organisation and enjoys nothing more than seeing a tidy home. Her experience has shown her that when people declutter it enables them to feel less anxious and reap the rewards of a less stressful life. Decluttering is now her passion, in helping others to live easier lives with less clutter around them.
Babs continues to live in South Manchester where she grew up. She is proud to have raised her children in the same area. Both her children have followed independent music careers and become successful in their own right. Babs believes their musical talent comes down the line from her as both her parents were also musical and had their own dance band. She is also proud to have three lovely musically talented grandchildren. So, Babs continually enjoys her two main loves of music and family. Between them, she is always kept busy and very happy.
Babs has always enjoyed cleaning and keeping a tidy home. Whilst working in offices early on in her career, she realised that she could provide cleaning services to a much higher standard than the private cleaning companies hired by her employers. This motivated Babs to set up her own business doing just that, where she soon built up to 75 regular commercial and domestic clients, with a team of dedicated and loyal cleaners.
Babs’ determination to succeed, together with her constant positive attitude was the driver to overcome any obstacles or challenges in running the business and managing the needs of both customers and staff. When she sold the cleaning company, it was a thriving business and there was still potential for expansion.
Now Babs wanted to focus and prioritise on helping people to declutter, because she sees the personal benefits gained by her customers in this area. She has learned that many people often use clutter or ‘stuff’ as a comfort blanket that they often no longer gained benefit from.
Babs’ professional organising business, ‘Forever Tidy’ was created to fulfil Babs’ passion of relieving people of the need to hoard unnecessarily, not to let go of things they love, but to let go of things they don’t use.
Q: Why did you decide to write a book about decluttering?
A: I decided to write a book on declutter to help The Lily-Jo Project, and also I do like organising, decluttering, and making things look tidy. I enjoyed this aspect of the cleaning company and also wanted to do something useful to raise cash for a great charity!
Q: When writing your book, how did you uncover the links between mental health and clutter?
A: When researching “V” for “Vacant”, I found the links to mental health and clutter to be quite interesting. Clutter can have an effect on our stress levels and also impacts our ability to focus on daily tasks, it is a hindrance to relaxation and can prevent sleep. Also our self esteem is affected because we do not know where to start with clutter. I know from the people I have decluttered for always feel better and more relaxed after they have seen clutter removed and space created.
Here are some photos of one lady’s cupboard which contained all out of date food! After sorting she was able to put other items in her cupboards which created space on her worktops.
Q: What was the most difficult thing about writing a book?
A: I found “repetition” the hardest thing to avoid whilst writing the book. It was difficult not to repeat myself on several pages.
Q: What have you learned about yourself while writing this book?
A: After writing the book, I have learned that my own experience is helping others (the book contains all tried and tested ideas from myself – check out this office space transformation.
I am also pleased that this book is a means of raising cash for The Lily-Jo Project. I do feel quite proud of myself too as I never expected I could do this!
Q: What is your favourite room to tidy?
A: My favourite room is the kitchen (especially cupboard interiors as I always find something out of date or something that I have duplicates of that are unnecessary).
What’s next on Babs’ agenda? A book tour! On 16 September, Babs embarked on a book tour which will span into 2020. On this tour, Babs is visiting community groups to share her story and present ‘The A to Z of Declutter’ in an interactive and engaging way. Here’s a look at her upcoming schedule if you’re interested in visiting with Babs in person!
We are so grateful to Babs for using her talents to support us at The Lily-Jo Project!
- If you would like to purchase your very own book, you can find it here.
- For even more tips about decluttering, follow The A to Z of Declutter page on Facebook here.
- To follow Babs’ story, you can find her on her ‘Forever Tidy’ page here.
The Lily-Jo Project Team
Written and Edited by: Shelby Hale