It’s that time of year again! While we all look forward to the changing of winter to spring, with it comes that dreaded “spring cleaning”. When you think about it, the term “spring cleaning” used to be just that – a time to give the house a good cleaning and airing out after a winter spent cooped up indoors. However, now it has morphed into something much larger. Now “spring cleaning” is more of a whole house purging and reorganizing extravaganza. And while I can’t help you with the deep cleaning aspect (that simply is what it is), I can help with the purging and organizing. Whether your house needs a major overhaul, or just a refresh, I’m going to give you some tips to make the process easier, and maybe even obsolete!
No matter if you’re working on one room or the whole house, set realistic goals for yourself. When we get the itch, we tend to make very grandiose plans, such as cleaning out every closet in one weekend. And while I appreciate wanting to take full advantage of the motivation when it strikes, those goals just aren’t realistic. Think about it, it took a lot longer than 1 weekend for your closets to get disorganized, and it’s going to take a bit longer than 1 weekend to get them reorganized. It will take you roughly 4 hours to get a closet like this one reorganized, and that’s without any distractions. Count up all the closets in your home and do the math…. it’s likely not possible to get them all done at once. So be more realistic with your goals in order to set yourself up for success.
Time to Purge
We are all familiar with the concept of purging, and we’ve all likely done it a time or two (or every time spring cleaning rolls around). As you purge, make sure you are touching everything. Meaning, it’s really easy to want to skip over that box in an effort to save time, assuming you already know the contents. Or to skip the process altogether because you just purged a couple months ago. This is part of the reason we keep having to purge and reorganize. You have to go through everything. Take every item out of your closet (or at the very least pick it up and look at it), and really consider the last time you wore it. How long has it been? Take the time to go through the box. I guarantee you will find more to get rid of than you think.
Don’t Forget the Systems
Most of us overlook this step, which is why we have to repeatedly purge and reorganize. If your space is constantly needing to be reorganized, it’s likely due to one of two reasons: either you don’t have any systems in place, or the systems you have aren’t working for you. This time, really look at your space – be it a closet, or desk or the kitchen island – and think about your pain points. What thing(s) drive you crazy the most in this space? Is it papers on the island? Now, address that one problem. What system will work for you and your family that will solve the problem of papers on the island? It might be as simple as adding file baskets on the wall in the mud room. Whatever your pain points are, address them one by one, and find the system that solves that problem for you. If you’ve tried other systems in the past, but you still have problems, then it wasn’t the right system. Keep trying!
Putting Things in Their Place
Now that you’ve purged and gotten some systems in place, it’s time to put your things back in your space. As you are doing this, really think about your habits and routines. It’s possible that things keep falling out of organization for you because your things aren’t organized to match the way you use them. Think about the clothes you wear most often, and where you get dressed in the mornings. Make your things as easily accessible to you as possible. Think about when you change out of them at night. Are you tired after a long day at work and not in the mood to hang things back up? Would a hook be helpful? Give yourself “zones” – anything from a work clothes zone to workout clothes zone. In the kitchen – a baking zone or a coffee zone. Whatever. Make your things fit with your routine, not the other way around. Your organization efforts will be much more successful.
New Season, New Habits
By changing just a few habits, you can make future spring cleaning and reorganization efforts much easier.
- 15 Minutes a Day – by spending just 15 minutes per day dealing with the mail, putting the laundry away, cleaning off your desk, etc, you will all but eliminate the need for the big reorganization projects. Think about it, you and your family are using the things in your home. It’s not a museum, so things are going to be out of place. You have to spend time putting things back where they go, so you can spend 15 min/day or a whole weekend later on. If you don’t do the maintenance regularly, it builds up over time. Think of it like the plants you put in your garden – they require maintenance to grow. Organization is the same thing. It requires maintenance to work.
- Schedule Maintenance – we put doctor’s appointments and ballet recitals on our calendars because that is non-negotiable time that can’t be taken by something else. Think of your maintenance the same way. Make it non-negotiable. Schedule a once a week “whole house reset” and get the family involved. Take 1 hour as a family to get every room in the house reset to the way it’s supposed to be. Schedule a once a month deep clean of the house. Whatever works for you and however often, but schedule it on the calendar so it can’t be put off.
- 1:3 Ratio – Think about all the things that come into your house on a daily basis. Between homework, mail and Amazon boxes, it’s staggering to think about just how much comes in, all of it needing a place to live. Consider following a 1:3 ratio for a while. Meaning, for every 1 item that comes in (not including mail and groceries), 3 items go out. Hear me out…. If your house is overrun by clutter, it needs a “detox” so to speak. The items going out are not apples to apples – I’m not saying if you buy 1 pair of jeans you have to get rid of 3 pairs of jeans. Just 3 items, belonging to anyone. So, if you buy 1 pair of jeans, you can get rid of an outfit your child has outgrown, a kitchen gadget you never use, the deflated basketball sitting in the garage, a pair of earrings you never wear, a game that has lost too many pieces. You get the idea. By detoxing your house of all the extra clutter, you have just made your home easier to organize and your life much simpler. Eventually, you can get down to a 1:1 ratio to keep it that way.
However big or small your spring cleaning projects are this year, take a little extra time to think about your family and routines. By organizing things to fit your lifestyle and pain points, and by making maintenance a regular occurrence, you can make future cleaning efforts much easier, if not completely obsolete!