What landlords should look for when choosing a property manager….

Appointing a property manager to take care of a rental property is a major decision, but there is more for landlords to consider than fees alone.

How to keep your first property as an investment and why most home owners don’t do it…

How to keep your first property as an investment and why most home owners don’t do it

What happens when you list your home for sale?

What happens when you list your home for sale?

The potential sale of a property becomes very real the moment it’s officially listed by an agent.

While decades ago, listing your home involved simply putting a “for sale” sign in the front garden and the agent taking out an ad in the local newspaper, it’s now all about online advertising and a strategic sales strategy which accompanies it.

 Advertising and the sales strategy

The advertising side typically includes professional photography and a comprehensive media campaign, covering online and social and sometimes print media.

Campaigns usually include an internet listing, a sale board, letterbox drops and agency marketing via magazine and window display.

Then comes the actual sales strategy, which the agent drives. It covers the method of sale, staging suggestions, how many opens there will be and when, how negotiations will be managed, the roll-out and monitoring of advertising and lots more.

Preparation is key for any home sale. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy


Be ready to sell

A home should be picture-perfect the day the listing goes live.

 “You only get one chance at a first impression, so you want to make it count,” he says.  A good agent will help the vendor understand the best way to present their property to maximise the sale price.

Tweaking the strategy

While the sales strategy is designed to guide the sale process, it should be tweaked if needed,  “If, for example, the property doesn’t travel well at its first open, you should you re-assess your approach,”

“We are dealing in a market now where you will find out if the property is doing well in the first five days (of being listed). If you get 20 to 30 people through the inspection on day one, then it’s a good sign. If you get five people through, there is probably a need to re-strategise.”

Moving into your new apartment….

Moving into your new apartment

The day has finally arrived and you’re preparing to move into your brand-new apartment but there are still a few further things to think about before you settle in.  

 

Moving

Moving into your new apartment can be one of the most exciting moments of your life, especially if it is your first home. Most people take a few days to move in after they have settled but others cannot wait and dive straight in. However, moving into an apartment is not the same as a house and it may take a little more planning. 

Things to think about include: 

Access

Will you be carrying your whole life up the stairs or taking the elevator? You will need to inform your movers if they are going to be carrying things up themselves. Alternatively, if you’re using the elevator you may have to alert body corporate who may book an elevator for you and request protection be placed in the lift prior to the big move.

Your building manager

Having a building a manger and getting permission to move to a new house may be a new feeling but it is step one of realising you now live in a complex and need to be respectful of your neighbours. Chat to your building manager to discuss any issues that may arise. They likely have also seen many other people move in and may have a few tips.

Removalist insurance

Apartment complexes can be tricky environments to move around in with big furniture, and bumps and accidents are almost certainly likely to occur. This should be a consideration when choosing a removalist and it is worth checking what their policy is on damage and whether their insurance is up to date. This will give you peace and mean you’re covered in the case of something going wrong.

Height restrictions and parking

When it comes to moving vans, a little pre-planning will make the day run smoother. Most apartment blocks don’t have a driveway you can park in and most car parks will have height restrictions, so it could be worth taking note of these before you choose what type of moving van to go with.

Time of day

Out of hours moving will not go down well with your neighbours. It is also normal that newer and larger complexes have rules about time of days you can do the heavy lifting. If you’re moving outside 9am and 5pm you also will likely encounter lots of people heading to work or coming home, so maybe take the day off and get it done during the quiet period.

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Home buying checklist for 2021..

Home buying checklist for 2021

Buying a property is a big investment, so to make sure you’re on top of the fine print we’ve created this handy checklist of some of the legal things you’ll need to do in order to make the transaction painless.

If this is the year you want to buy a home, it’s time to sit down and familiarise yourself with the process and going through the necessary steps to ensure you’ve covered off all basis when it comes to the home buying checklist. Here are the steps you need to take.

Make a shortlist of properties you like

Finding a new place is an important move so you are going to want to take the time to do the appropriate amount of research and shortlist a few places that ticks your boxes.

To start, narrow down the neighbourhoods you like. Somethings you might want to include on your “must have” list include:

  • Transport in the area
  • Access to schools
  • The facilities and features of the suburb like parks, cafes, restaurants and so on
  • Suburb profile including the people that live there and crime rates

Engage a conveyancer

Once you’ve made your shortlist of places, you need to check over the finer details of the properties of interest and this is where you need to engage experts.

The conveyancing process usually will be what kick starts your legal journey to property ownership so it’s important to engage a solicitor or conveyancer who will be able to take care of the legalities for you.

But what’s the difference?

Couple signing paperwork on table

“Registered conveyancers are experts who specialise in conveyancing work … Some conveyancers are qualified solicitors but many are non-solicitors who have completed specialist tertiary education in conveyancing. In fact, many law firms employ registered conveyancers to undertake their conveyancing work.”

 The conveyancing process will be what kick starts your journey to property ownership.

While there are DIY conveyancing kits available, these are useful only for the most straightforward property transactions.

But even the most simple-looking transactions can become complicated by legislation and regulations, making DIY a riskier move on your big investment.

You’ll want your conveyancer to consider things like local or national planning controls, permitted uses, heritage overlays and body corporate constraints.

And like any transaction, if you have any concerns or additional knowledge regarding the property you’re buying, communicate them to your solicitor or conveyancer to ensure the best outcome.

Get to know the sales process

Conveyancing in Australia varies slightly from state to territory. And so does the sales process.

For instance, there’s no cooling-off period for auctions (which are popular in the big cities), but with private treaty sales it’s different. And it’s even possible to buy via ballot.

So make sure you know and understand the different sales processes before you start.

Check the title

Freestanding houses in Australia typically have a freehold Torrens Title. But other types of title exist for different property types and come with their own legalities.

Strata Title was introduced to Australia in 1961. It’s a system for handling the legal ownership of a portion of a building or structure including units, townhouses, villas, commercial offices, factories, warehouses, retail shops and more.

Before 1961 buyers used Company Title to effectively purchase shares in a building, and some older buildings remain under Company Title. Each system has its own pros and cons, as well as its own legalities.  

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The home’s bright, light-filled interior added to the appeal for buyers.


So if you’re buying an apartment, villa or townhouse, it’s important to do some research first to make sure you’re familiar with how it works as well as conducting a strata search.

You’ll need to adhere to bylaws, take into account the fact you will be paying regular levies for maintenance and other expenses and enjoy the responsibility of voting at annual general meetings run by the strata management company and electing an executive committee.

There’s also leasehold or community title. Your conveyancer can guide you.

Find out: The hidden costs of buying a home

Set time aside to do the paperwork

Again, the legal paperwork associated with buying property varies slightly from state to territory. The process usually includes these key events and documents:

Contract paperwork

The vendor’s solicitor prepares a contract note or contract of sale concerning the property’s information and detailing exactly what is for sale. The settlement date should be specified – normally 30, 60 or 90 days. It can be very complex – for example, with properties sold off the plan.

A contract usually has other documents attached, including a zoning certificate, drainage diagram, a plan for the land, and a Certificate of Title that confirms current ownership and whether there are any encumbrances on the property.

The legal paperwork associated with buying property varies slightly from state to territory.

Exchange

The contract is effectively made binding when it’s signed at “exchange”. This takes place either at the auction, or after a private treaty sale price is agreed, and a deposit is usually paid at this time.

Settlement

Settlement is usually six weeks after contracts are exchanged (but the date is specified in the contract) and is when you pay the remaining amount for the property. Stamp duty typically has to be paid within 30 days of settlement, but varies by state or territory.

Land transfer

Is a document to be finalised at settlement by your conveyancer.

Mortgage

If you’re raising finance for your property via a loan, your solicitor or conveyancer will need to supply certain documentation to your lender.

Type of ownership

When buying a property with someone else, you can usually own it in one of two ways: joint tenants, or tenants in common.

Read more: 6 Property Settlement Tips for Buyers

Organise the necessary inspections

The building inspection process is an important part of the legal checklist for buying property.

For instance, the electrics and plumbing need to have been installed to certain requirements, and any renovations should have been approved by council. It’s also important to check the boundaries are in the correct position.

A proper building and pest inspection can find potential faults where you might not have seen any.

As long as you do your homework, and tick off your legal checklist, owning real estate grants you many freedoms – to buy, sell, renovate, invest and bequeath – or just to enjoy.

Sydney property stock shortage compounded by fear from would-be sellers…

Property prices may be hitting new highs but most would-be sellers aren’t cashing in and are instead holding off listing out of fear they’ll struggle to buy their next home.

Over half of those polled in a recent Westpac survey of homeowners who were “ready to sell” said they wouldn’t pull the trigger on a listing because buyer competition was too stiff to move somewhere else.

‘Risky’ home buying tactic on the rise

It’s led to a crippling shortage of available housing and a “vicious cycle” where homeowners’ decisions to delay selling are making the market even hotter.

This in turn is further discouraging new sales.

Would-be sellers were upgraders who wanted to buy their next home before they listed.

This was channelling new buyers into the market without the same match in new listings and current stock shortages were “severe” in most areas.

“It’s a standoff. Few homeowners want to be the ones to sell first. Everyone is trying to buy first,” 
 Suburbs to watch in 2021 where homeowners’ reluctance to sell was a natural response to seeing multiple auctions with more than 20 bidders.

“When they see that, they just know it’s going to get blown out the water,”

The Westpac commissioned research conducted by Lonergan Research also revealed many buyers were chasing the same type of homes.

Real Estate Aerials

Sydney has a severe shortage of listings. Picture: John Appleyard


The majority were seeking more space, with 94 per cent of those surveyed wanting a backyard, alfresco entertaining area, veranda or some form of outdoor space.

Close to half said “quiet surroundings” were their top priority when considering property.

The current appetite for houses with backyards was “ferocious”.

“Everyone wants the same thing,”It’s been difficult to keep up with the level of inquiry. The phones just never stop ringing.”

House tenants’ rights when your landlord is selling

It’s the news no happy tenant wants to hear: the landlord is selling. 

As with most change, though, it’s a lot less frightening when you know what to expect.

Here are five rules to remember when your landlord decides to sell.

1. The landlord is allowed to sell at any time

In all states and territories, landlords are legally allowed to sell their property whenever they like. But fear not: the law protects tenants from being turfed out on a whim.

It’s the news no tenant wants to hear: the landlord is selling. 

2. Your lease is still valid

Your current lease (which is also known as a tenancy agreement) remains valid when your landlord puts their property on the market. And it remains so after the sale, which means you don’t have to move out of the property if it changes hands.

“A landlord cannot terminate a fixed-term agreement for the sale of the property,”

And so if the property is sold to an investor who a tenanted property, it’s possible you will experience very few changes.

It can also lead to a termination of the lease, if mutual consent is reached.

“If you are on a fixed-term agreement, but you want to move out because the property is being sold, you may be able to end the tenancy agreement early by a mutual consent with the landlord,”

If the new owner wants you to move out, they must comply with the terms of the existing lease.

3. Landlords must give tenants notice before an inspection … and you can be there

The landlord must give the tenants 14 days’ notice before the first viewing.

Meanwhile,  tenants “are obliged to make all reasonable efforts to agree on a suitable time and day for the showing” and must also keep the property in a “reasonable state of cleanliness”.

“If an agreement isn’t reached to show the property, the landlord is only able to show the property a maximum of two times per week, and must give the tenant at least 48 hours’ notice each time.”

Renters also have the right to be at the property when it’s opened for inspection.

Get ready: How to prepare for a rental inspection.

property inspection

The landlord must give the tenants 14 days’ notice before the first viewing. Picture: Getty


4. Renters have a say when it comes to photography and signage

The outside of a rental property can be photographed without permission. But if the landlord wishes to take photos inside the property, they must obtain permission from their tenant.

The tenant must also give their consent to signage and on-site auctions.

5. Renters can get compensation

The landlords sometimes offer their tenant compensation to encourage them to move out of the property as soon as possible.

“In some states, a tenant may give notice, even if they are on a lease, once the property is listed for sale,”

“Many property owners offer tenants a compensation for the inconvenience, and this avoids the complaints.”

6. Can you deny a home inspection during Covid-19?

No, in general terms you cannot. However, due to Covid-19 most states have introduced health guidelines still to be met if an agent or landlord request to bring people through you home during this time.

For specific guidance, check you the current public health order and guidelines in your state.

7. Can repairs and maintenance be carried out during Covid-19?

Yes, repairs and maintenance can be carries out during the pandemic. The landlord, agent or authorised person can still carry out repairs during this time, they will, however, need to ensure they follow the local health guidelines in your area.

Tenants rights in different states

It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the sale of a property might foreshadow changes for the tenant, but it often doesn’t play out that way.

And that’s because there’s a healthy amount of legislation specifically designed to protect the rights of the tenant in this situation – laws that differ slightly from state to state.

The complete guide for first time renters
  • Landlords must provide tenants a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before showing a prospective buyer around the property. Tenants must grant these buyers “reasonable access to the premise” but can refuse access if they weren’t previously informed of the landlord’s intention to sell.
  • Neither the new or old landlord can evict the tenant if a fixed agreement is in place, unless the tenant violates the terms of the lease, or the two parties reach an agreement by mutual consent.
  • If the agreement is periodic, the state’s Residential Tenancies Act states that a landlord can evict you on eight weeks’ notice, if they “genuinely intend to sell the premises”.

New South Wales

  • Landlords must provide tenants two weeks’ written notice before the first inspection, and a minimum of 48 hours’ notice for subsequent inspections, which cannot amount to more than two a week.
  • Neither the new or old landlord can evict the tenant if a fixed agreement is in place, unless the tenant violates the terms of the lease, or the two parties reach an agreement by mutual consent.
  • Landlords must also give you 30 days’ notice if they wish to terminate the lease at the end of the tenancy agreement.
  • If the agreement is periodic, a landlord can evict you, as long as they give you 90 days’ notice, or 14 days’ notice if you breach your tenancy agreement.

Don’t miss out

5 household tasks to do in your work-from-home lunch break…

Tradition dictates that a lunch break is for eating. But the truth is, if you’re working from home, there are better ways to structure your day.

Working from home is something that Australians want to continue long-term. In a report released by Bastion Insights in January this year, it was found that two-thirds of Australian workers hope to remain working from home into the future, for either part of their week or all of it.

“Sitting at the desk, and then moving to a different chair to eat your lunch, and then back to the desk, is probably one of the most destructive things about working from home,” says Jane Kilkenny, health and fitness expert from Fitness Energy.

Young married couple working from home, they are sitting in their dining room.
Sitting for too long is probably one of the most destructive things about working from home. Photo: Stocksy

“In a traditional office job, you would have some sort of motion in your commute to work – even if it’s walking from the car to the office – and then in the office, you walk to get a coffee or stroll to get some lunch. And all of that incidental movement adds up.”

When you’re working from home, this incidental movement can be done while getting a few things done around the house.

Not only will this increase your movement and decrease your sitting time, it can also boost your productivity both in your work and in your home life (which, by the way, are now integrated rather than two separate parts of your life).

Feeling guilty about using the workday to do your own things? Kate Christie, director and founder of Time Stylers, suggests we remember that there is a lot of “wasted” time in a traditional workplace. “There are internal meetings that go on forever, chats around the water cooler, and going out for coffee,” she says, adding that we can reclaim this time for our own purposes when we work from home.

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Decreasing your sitting time can boost your productivity in your work and home life. Photo: iStock

“At home, you’re likely much more focused and productive, so you can cut yourself some slack and do some things that you need to get done.”

Here are five ideas for home tasks to do during your work-from-home day.

Cook tonight’s meal

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Cooking is a productive way to spend your lunch break. Photo: iStock

Whether you love or hate cooking, the evening meal has to be prepared. And it’s a surprisingly productive way to spend your lunch break.

“A complete task shift is the best kind of break,” Christie says. “Doing something creative is perfect, and cooking the meal or getting some of it ready to go fits the bill, and is a really good use of your time.”

“It gives your brain a break; you’re thinking about the recipe rather than work so that when you get back to work, you’ll be really productive.”

Hang out the washing

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Hanging out the washing is a great opportunity to move your body and get some fresh air. Photo: Stocksy

It’s the perfect chance to stand up, move a little and get some fresh air.

“Hanging out a load of washing is like doing squats for five minutes: you’re bending down and standing up, and movements like that are great,” says Kilkenny.

“It’s giving your body the opportunity to be in a different position, and the more you can change your position during the day, and get your body moving from point A to point B, the better off you’ll be.”

Get out in the garden

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If you’re headed outside in your break, choose your tasks wisely. Photo: iStock

“Watering the garden is a great thing to do in a break: you’re walking around and standing up tall, which is the opposite to sitting at a desk,” Kilkenny says.

But if you’re headed outside in your break, choose your tasks wisely. “Weeding the garden in a short break probably isn’t a great idea, because you’re bending down and putting yourself in a very forward position like you do at your desk,” says Kilkenny.

“It’s about changing position and adding in movement.”

A quick food shop

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A trip to the shops will likely make evenings much calmer. Photo: Greg Briggs

Weekday evenings are chaotic. We tend to spend our after work hours racing around, picking up some groceries, getting dinner made, cleaning up, and getting everyone ready for the next day.

But if you can knock out some of these tasks during the day, your evenings are likely to be much calmer. Something as simple as a quick food shop to grab what you need for dinner and the next couple of days gets you out and moving, and it eases your evening load.

This flows on to become a benefit for the whole household, Christie says. “If you’re not constantly rushing, it means you can have some mindful time, sit down with your family and talk about their day, and go for a walk.”

“It makes for a more peaceful family existence.”

Potter about

Mother and her little baby girl folding clothes in their bedroom. They are preparing for packing for vacation.
‘It’s important to keep your body moving so that it can continue to function well,’ Kilkenny says. Photo: iStock

Whether you’re wandering the garden to tidy up, folding some washing, or moving from one small task to another, some gentle pottering can be a beneficial way to spend a break.

“This is movement combined with mindfulness, which is fantastic for relaxing the brain and the body,” says Kilkenny.

“It’s not necessarily exercise, so it won’t increase your fitness, but it’s so important to keep your body moving so that it can continue to function well.”

“Just remember: get up and move often, just as you would if you were working in an office building.”

Creating a functional study on a budget in seven easy steps…

People regularly ask me how I can improve the functionality of working at home without it costing a bomb.

What equipment do I need? How should I make sure the workflow is optimised for efficiency?

All of these are the right questions. My answer though generally starts somewhere other than thinking about the right size desk or lighting or even the feng shui of the entire room. 

I always start by asking the person what motivates you? What inspires you? What times of the day do you feel you’re at your peak efficiency? What kind of environment do you work best within?

Desk organisation

Finding your ultimate working space will enable you to be happier and more productive. Picture: Getty


1. Figure out the way you work

These answers are not the same for all people. Some people need a very minimal distraction to get things done.

Others feel a bit of isolation and in turn a bit nervous when there are no other stimuli in a room.

Some people need bright light to keep them focused. For others, bright light can actually lead to a headache. 

2. Find a location

For some, the perfect study might actually be just off a loud busy area of a home. For others, it might be deep in the back of a walk-in wardrobe where it can be as quiet as possible! Decide which environment works best for you.

Now, if you can’t change which space you’re working with, then figure out how to make it work better for you.

Will you need noise-cancelling headphones or will you need to make sure there’s a small speaker nearby to play some background music?

Will you want plain clean walls or will you want to throw some inspiring quotes or photos up for a quick distraction that will drive your focus and help with the quality of your work?

 3. To desk or not to desk

Once you’ve created the perfect environment that works best for your particular working style, there are some great ways to design a study so that you’re not spending a fortune.

First, desks are great – but are not always necessary.

Would a comfortable chair with a laptop work for you?

If you do need a flat surface for work, are there any tables in your home which can be repurposed?

4. Desks come in many forms

If you’re in the mood to create a desk, my favourite multi-purpose desk uses two filing cabinets as the “legs” of the desk with a piece of wood or glass as the flat surface.

You can often find used office equipment at online sales or in op shops.

A quick word about filing cabinets though. Paper files are sometimes necessary, but for the most part, your files should be stored digitally these days.

So, fill those filing cabinets with anything that inspires you. Feeling stuck on a certain assignment? Open up the cabinet drawer and get a breath of inspiration!

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Question whether you actually need a desk before you shell out your hard-earned cash. Picture: Getty


5. Power your work life

Next, think a lot about the power needed to drive the devices you use: laptop, printer, tablet, chargers and so on.

How many power points are available to you and are they in positions where you’ll help yourself get more done? Take some time to grab a few cable ties and make everything neat and accessible.

There’s nothing worse than a collection of messy cluttered wires. Take the extra 30 minutes to get your office looking neat and tidy and don’t worry about it ever again nor will you run the risk of trip hazards for you or other members of your family.

6. Light your way

Finally, make sure the light is right for you. If the room is too dark for you, find some good inexpensive task lighting. It will make all the difference.

There’s no reason to be left in the dark when you’re trying to work. Unless of course, you work best at 2am and need the calm of the night to get your inspiration firing!

Home office

Lighting is important in a workspace. Picture: Getty


7. Efficiency doesn’t have to be expensive

A good study doesn’t need to be expensive.

Think first about what elements would help you be more productive. Make sure they’re near you and visible and the rest will sort itself out.

7 STEPS TO DE-CLUTTERING YOUR HOME BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Seven steps to decluttering your home before Christmas

For many Australians 2020 has been a year to forget. As we get ready to embrace (a hopefully much better) 2021, now is the perfect time to clear the slate by decluttering and organising the home. 

Getting organised has a huge number of benefits. Not only does it make life a little easier, but studies show that looking at an organised, clean space brings a sense of calm and clarity.

And with the weather warming up ahead of Christmas, it’s the perfect time to open up the home and clear out unwanted items that have been building up.

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With less than a month until Christmas, now is the perfect time to declutter the home. Picture: Getty


Seven steps to decluttering

Step into 2021 with a fresh outlook. Here are seven steps to help make that happen.

1. Start small

Start by picking just one area of the home to concentrate on. Think about which areas are going to be used most often in the next few weeks. It might be the living room or the kitchen – but it also might be an outdoor area used for entertaining and relaxing with family and guests over the festive period.

2. Stay focused on one project at a time

Too many times, a good decluttering and organising job goes off the rails because people get started on too many projects all at the same time. To avoid this, limit the scope of the organising job. For instance, if the space being cleaned up is the kitchen, focus on one particular aspect of the space. What parts of the kitchen are most likely to be used during the holidays? It could be the serving platters, baking supplies, tableware or even cleaning out the pantry.

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Focusing on one area at a time is key to a successful decluttering job. Picture: Getty


3. If it’s not used then discard

After choosing an area to focus on, gather every single item that belongs in that category and spread them out. Pick out anything that is ready to be thrown away such as damaged, soiled or broken items as well as anything that is no longer in style or is not loved anymore. Put those items in a box for the local op shop or gift or dispose of them in some other manner.

4. Store loved and used items

Locate items that are well-loved and used regularly. Be disciplined here and make sure these items are actually well loved and handy today. This limited group of treasures are the ones that will be stored within easy reach.

5. Set limits for things used infrequently

The last category is sometimes the hardest to deal with. It includes items that are perfectly fine but are not used regularly or particularly loved. Be a bit ruthless and decide exactly how much storage space is available for this entire category. If there is room for it then keep it – but there’s nothing wrong with leaving some extra room for future growth.

decluttering

Be ruthless with items that are not well loved or used regularly. Picture: Getty


6. Clear, dust and clean before reloading spaces

Give the area a deep clean before putting anything back. Dirt, dust and even mould can collect in almost all storage areas. Take care of this now while the space is empty. Then start loading things back putting items used most regularly at the front so they can be accessed easily.

7. Dance your happy dance

Marvel at how beautifully organised the area is. Take pictures. Be proud. And then move on to the next project.

Focused and systematic gets the job done

If you limit decluttering to just one category within one space, the job is much more ‘doable’. Finish one job completely and then start on the next. Repeat this process to have Christmas decluttering done in plenty of time for the festivities.