Spring is just around the corner, but the idea of spring cleaning can sometimes feel like a drag. It doesn’t have to be. There are several easy ways to prepare for cleaning your home so that the big cleaning day won’t feel so tough.
Start by giving away stuff you don’t use anymore
Reduce your future organizing workload by getting rid of stuff you aren’t using anymore now. After all, you won’t need to sort it if it’s no longer there!
You don’t have to go through everything at once: start with just a few things a day. Pick one drawer or one closet at the beginning. Each day, commit to removing 3-5 things that have become broken, obsolete, or simply unwanted. If you can’t find anything additional to remove, start on the next drawer. At this point, don’t think about organizing the stuff you are keeping — save that for another day. Keep a bin by the door and take it to a donation center when it gets full.
Each day, you’ll get rid of some stuff, you’ll learn where things are for future use (or donation), and you’ll get into a habit of selecting and discarding old items. These are all good things!
Don’t make the mistake of keeping unwanted gifts and purchases
When people give us gifts, we can feel obligated to hold on to them for a while. Even if that gift is a useless gag gift, a toy the toddler doesn’t like to play with, or clothes that we don’t quite like, there’s some social pressure to hold on. Don’t let this social pressure get to you. If you’ve said your thanks and tried out the gift, and it just doesn’t work for you, then don’t keep it. You might feel slightly guilty for donating it, but you’ll feel much better about the clean space it’s left behind.
The same goes for purchases you’ve made. If you made one mistake by buying something you aren’t going to use or don’t really like, don’t make a second mistake by keeping it. Return it if you can or donate it somewhere else. The money you spent is gone and you can’t get it back, so don’t hang on to the item to vindicate your purchase. Give it away, and take some extra time to think about your purchases the next time you’re out shopping.
List areas you want to clean in advance
When you are trying to organize your home, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of areas that will be easy to clean up. But don’t overwhelm yourself and list everything in the house. Start out with closets, drawers, and bedrooms. These areas tend to collect the most unwanted stuff that you might not need anymore. Then set dates to tackle each one of those areas. A morning when the kids are at soccer practice or a lazy Sunday afternoon, perhaps.
The key is not to exhaust yourself. Just like you wouldn’t exhaust yourself in a workout — you’d save some energy for next time — make sure to stop organizing while you still feel in a good mood. This will be positive reinforcement and help you feel better about cleaning again later.
Ask yourself, “What else needs to be done before this room is clean?”
Sometimes it’s hard to see what else needs to be finished in a room before it’s done. If you ever get stuck and don’t know what to do next, imagine yourself in a hypothetical situation, such as, “What if my friends were coming over in a few days?” “What if Suzy with the baby would be visiting tonight?” Follow up with the question, “What would I have to do to prepare before they arrived?” This mental exercise helps put tasks in a different light, which then helps you assign priorities to them.
In this mental exercise, things ought to come to your attention immediately. Before Suzy with the baby arrives, you’ll have to clear the floor, vacuum, and ideally, mop it. Before your friends arrive, you’ll need to clear the living room and straighten all the furniture. Sorting through old magazines can wait; the important thing now is to have clean surfaces.
Spring cleaning will be a breeze
Spring cleaning can feel like a chore, but if you prepare a little each day in advance, it’ll be easy when it finally rolls around. Setting yourself up for success is key, both by decluttering and by developing good mental habits in advance.
By Lisa Geraci Rigoni, founder of The Organizing MentorsA LITL System Production (c) 2019