5-minute listening: The decluttering expert

  • Practise your English with our short listening exercises: play the audio linked below; answer the questions; and check the answers at the bottom of the page
  • In this week’s podcast, the founder of an organisation company shares some tips on keeping spaces clean and tidy
John Millen |

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Looking for some tips on how to declutter your home? Photo: Shutterstock

Click on the video below for the audio.

Play a Kahoot! game about this podcast as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:


1. What sort of services does Taylor’s company offer?
A. house moving
B. plumbing repairs
C. decluttering
D. home renovation

2. If you “took it upon yourself” to do something, you did it …
A. even though you disliked it
B. after avoiding it for some time
C. without anyone asking
D. after asking for permission from others

3. Why did Taylor take a break from school?
A. She needed to earn money for her tuition fees.
B. She wanted to try working as a personal assistant.
C. She was offered a job in a local company.
D. She wanted to get some experience as an organisation professional.

4. Why did Taylor get a sense of satisfaction from her job as a personal assistant?
A. She discovered her ability to work independently.
B. She was praised for her work in helping the senior manager.
C. She saved up enough from her job to start a company.
D. She managed to tidy up the entire office.

5. According to Taylor, why do some people delay decluttering their homes?
A. because they do not know how to do it
B. because they think it is a waste of time
C. because they cannot afford professional help
D. because they dislike cleaning up

6. What sort of people go to Taylor for help?
A. those who have problems tidying up their place
B. those who are looking to live in a new home
C. those who are looking to sell their flats
D. those who are thinking of changing jobs

7. How much time should you spend tidying up every day?
A. less than 10 minutes
B. no more than 15 minutes
C. close to 20 minutes
D. at least half an hour

8. What is lacking in Hong Kong flats according to the podcast?
A. tight living spaces
B. unused spaces
C. storage spaces
D. tiny spaces

9. If a place is “clutter-free”, it is …
A. tidy and organised
B. messy and dirty
C. plain and uninviting
D. none of the above

10. What does Taylor say about the existing storage spaces in her clients’ homes?
A. Most people do not bother tidying them up.
B. They take up too much space.
C. They are often full of unwanted items.
D. People do not make full use of them.

11. What can you do with “dead” spaces?
A. turn them into beds
B. use them for airing laundry
C. declutter them
D. use them for storing things

12. Which of the following has an opposite meaning to “under control”?
A. restrained
B. out of hand
C. unflappable
D. bottled-up

13. If someone “procrastinates”, they …
A. need help doing something
B. are unsure how to do something
C. keep delaying something
D. none of the above

14. According to Taylor, when should you clean your dishes?
A. just before bedtime
B. right after a meal
C. the next day
D. information not given

15. How often does Taylor recommend having a “cleaning and sorting out” day?
A. once a month
B. twice a week
C. every other day
D. once a year

Even if you live in a small flat, use whatever storage space you have. Photo: Shutterstock


1. C
2. C
3. A
4. D
5. B
6. A
7. B
8. C
9. A
10. D
11. D
12. B
13. C
14. B
15. A


Ayumi Okada: Welcome to another episode of “Women with Cool Jobs”. Today, we have with us, Taylor Lee, a 20-year-old organisation expert who recently started her own decluttering company. Hi, Taylor!

Taylor Lee: Hi, Ayumi! Thanks for having me.

Ayumi Okada: It’s our pleasure. You have such a unique job – tell us how you became a professional organiser.

Taylor Lee: It started when I took a gap year to earn money for my university tuition fees, and worked as a personal assistant at a local company. It was there that I discovered my passion for sorting out messy things. It was a very small workspace, and documents were piled up everywhere. So I took it upon myself to put them in order. I was meant to help a senior manager with administrative tasks but ended up decluttering the entire office.

Ayumi Okada: Wow. It must have been hard work getting rid of all that clutter!

Taylor Lee: It sure was. But I also had a huge sense of satisfaction, and that was when I had the idea of starting Space 2 for people who might also need help with organisation.

Ayumi Okada: Right. Could you tell us more about your company and what you do?

Taylor Lee: Space 2 helps people who want their things to be tidy. I always tell my clients that I’m not here to make their living or work space perfect. Rather, my goal is to make it practical and tidy so that it’s an environment they can enjoy. Most people have a fair idea of how to declutter but simply put off doing it because they think it takes up too much time. That’s when I come into the picture to show them how to get into the habit of tidying. Putting in 10 to 15 minutes of tidying up every day can make a huge difference.

Ayumi Okada: One of the main problems many Hong Kong flats face is the lack of storage space. What is your advice for keeping a clutter-free home when people don’t have much room for their stuff?

Taylor Lee: I usually find that even if there isn’t much storage space, existing cupboards and shelves are not as well utilised as they could be. Here’s a tip. As soon as I step into a client’s place, I look for those “dead” spaces that make excellent storage solutions – such as the empty area under a bed.

Ayumi Okada: That’s very useful! And for those who have had their home sorted out, what can they do to make sure that the clutter stays under control?

Taylor Lee: It’s important to clean as you go and don’t procrastinate. Rather than leaving your dirty dishes until the next morning, wash them as soon as you’re done eating. Also, set aside a day each month as a “cleaning and sorting out” day to get rid of items you no longer need!

Ayumi Okada: That’s great advice. Thanks so much, Taylor! It was a pleasure speaking to you.

Taylor Lee: You’re welcome!

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