Living amid chaos is not good for your state of mind and can cause chaos in relationships.

London - In recent years, a burgeoning anti-clutter industry and a raft of TV shows and books on this topic have attempted to address this issue, but, for many, it is a losing battle.

But at what point does untidiness become clutter? Why is it so debilitating?

And what can be done to prevent it? I caught up with professional declutterer, Vicky Silverthorn, to find out more.

* A house becomes cluttered when items get in the way of life running smoothly. When you start thinking things like “I must organise that” or “I’ve got too much of this”, when you start to lose items on a frequent basis, and when you feel the organisation levels slip so much that you can’t bear to look in certain areas – that’s when it becomes a problem.

* Clutter affects your everyday life in a negative way. I believe it can affect stress levels dramatically and can slow down simple daily processes. Many find there aren’t enough hours in the day anyway. Why add to this?

* Eighty percent of my clients are women. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are worse. Perhaps it means they are just better at coming forward. I deal with many different types of people from a large variety of backgrounds and they all have problems that bother them very individually. Clutter can affect anyone.

* I work in a simple, methodical process. I go one room at a time, one area at a time and sort items into piles. The key to successful decluttering is to finish the jobs you start and be realistic about how much time something is going to take. Introducing practical and basic systems that are easily kept up is vital.

* There are so many reasons why people start to hoard. Some of these are very delicate and involve some kind of traumatic experience.

* Paperwork is a biggie when it comes to clutter. People loathe doing their home paperwork, but I believe this is because so many put such unnecessarily complicated systems in place. A good system to me is a simple system and that’s what I implement.

* Clearing clutter is like a form of therapy. It’s cleansing and many say you sleep better, the stress lifts and that it helps you become more productive in other areas of your life. I believe this wholeheartedly.

Vicky’s top five decluttering tips

* Keep organising simple. Don’t introduce complicated systems. Think back to basics.

* If you don’t have much time, start decluttering for 20-30 minutes an evening. You will be so surprised how far you get in even a week.

* Be realistic. If you’re having a declutter session, it’s for a reason, so don’t just shift things around. If you don’t need it, say goodbye; it’s taking up your precious space and just “liking it” is very different from liking to wear or use it.

* Invest what you can in practical storage. You will never keep track of things if you don’t know where to look for them.

* Start afresh. Make someone else happy by giving something unwanted and unused to charity or sell it and make what you can from it. Hopefully, you will learn to love the feeling of something going to good use, instead of being hidden in a drawer and never used. – The Independent