One of the many joys of my job is that I get to speak to interesting people all the time and they answer my questions about their working life. I’ve been working with Jo Cooke for a while – she is based near Newbury and is a professional declutterer. This work has also led her to co-found a charity for hoarders and their families who need her help and she is the author of a comprehensive book on the subject.
She is great to work with, always has interesting stories and makes such a difference to the lives of her clients. I thought it would be interesting to see what one of her typical days looks like…..
“First thing in the morning after the gym or a swim, I check online for any articles on hoarding and clutter to share on social media. I also have a look to see how my new book “Understanding Hoarding” is doing in the rankings.
“I then check my emails whilst eating breakfast and I usually have a few emails from people who would like advice so they can help someone they know who shows signs of hoarding. On average I also receive a referral from social services or a housing association.
“Each day is completely different but my daily routine always requires bin bags, rubble bags, recycling bags, my tip pass, a permanent marker pen, labels, plastic wallets, luggage tags and post-it notes in my decluttering bag. I also have a reminder to take plenty of water. I am helping folk with their decision making and it can be thirsty work.
Part of the services I offer as part of my organising and decluttering business Tapioca Tidy is to offer a ‘PA at home’ service.
“Sometimes I help clients with admin such as assistance with ensuring their bills are paid or helping people to label sheets and duvets in their linen cupboard so they can see at a glance what size the sheets are; single, double, fitted or king-size.
“I work with many families whose houses are cluttered and can therefore be a fire hazard. Many have problems such as Parkinsons and so progress can be slow so we need to be very gentle and patient. A sense of humour helps too!
“I am Director of Hoarding Disorders UK – a social enterprise that I co-founded after finding hoarding issues are fairly commonplace and very different to clutter issues.
I make regular trips to the recycling unit to drop off glass, paper and plastic and also to the charity shops in Thatcham to take in the clothes that I have decluttered that day. Part of my job is to take items away for either recycling or to donate to charity. It is a part of the service that I know my clients really value as many still have their bags for charity loitering in their hallways and car boots and many people are happier to let things go if they know they’re going to a good home.
“My next job is to think of a speaker for our support groups. We run a hoarding support group – one in Bracknell and one in Newbury. The Newbury group is free to attend and is supported by Greenham Trust; it takes place once a month on a Thursday evening from 7pm to 9pm at Broadway House in Newbury. The group offers support and advice, as well as a relevant speaker. I am thinking perhaps of asking another mindfulness coach to come and talk to the group.
“Many people ask me if my home is tidy and minimalist – to be honest it is not but I do know where everything is. One thing I am proud of is the empty shelf in the kitchen. Now the children have left home I don’t need as much food so actually enjoy looking at the empty shelf.
“I’m not sure if other declutterers feel the same.”
Does your business mean that you have an interesting routine – I’d love to hear about it!