- Organizing & Decluttering
Practical Spring Cleaning And Downsizing Pointers
Let the cleaning begin!
It is that time of year when many of us are convinced our lives can be improved by a session of spring cleaning. After all, do you really need to keep the bright yellow sweater you wore once five years ago and then tossed in the back of your closet? Or maybe it is time to look over your book collection and admit you have no interest in rereading the science fiction series you collected as a teenager and have never bothered to give away.
Which area of your home needs to be deep cleaned the most?
First and foremost, try to avoid sorting through items when you are in a terrible mood. This may seem counterintuitive on some level because cleaning and organizing can often help improve a mood. However, decluttering—especially if you are sorting through an overflowing closet, old papers and letters, and your book collection—while in a funk may result in poor decisions. Yes, your vexatious mood may prompt you to get rid of the pair of jeans which haven’t properly fit you since George W. Bush was president; however, it may also make it difficult for you to appreciate and experience much (if any) catharsis from getting rid of what you no longer want and need so you have more space in your life for things which can improve your life.
Downsizing tips from a pro
If you insist on decluttering and downsizing while angry or frustrated, find an empty storage container—whether a box, a laundry hamper, or a plastic bin—to put any item you are convinced MUST go in. After you have finished adding things to this container, set it out of sight for at least 24 hours. Once this much time has passed—and, presumably, once your mood has improved—sift through the items again to ensure you want to give them away, sell them at a consignment shop, or, in the case of threadbare or terribly stained items, throw away. This method gives you the opportunity to avoid getting rid of something you aren’t convinced you want to part with.
I’ve found this approach also works well with downsizing your book collection. Regardless of my state of mind when sorting through my book collection, I have found setting aside the books I don’t think I want or need anymore and then returning to them in a day or two helps me to best evaluate whether or not I am ready to part with them.
While you certainly can start your spring cleaning without downsizing or decluttering, I suggest starting with downsizing so you ultimately have less to clean once you are in full spring cleaning mode.
With spring cleaning, downsizing, and decluttering it is important to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in the amount of time you have available. In other words, if your closet is overflowing with clothes which no longer fit you or appeal to your current tastes, it is unlikely you can thoroughly sort through your closet—especially if you need to try on a few of the “maybe this fits, maybe this doesn’t” items—in fifteen minutes or less.
Similarly, if you’ve decided it is time to deep clean your fridge for the first time in many months, try to allow yourself more time than you think you will need to accomplish this task. In my experience, it often takes at least thirty minutes or longer to clean out a fridge. If you have many items to look over and determine if they are expired or otherwise inedible, this process could take longer.
Another way to make spring cleaning an appealing activity is by making it a group activity. If you have a good friend who has also been talking about his or her need to clean out a closet or to downsize his or her DVD collection, offer to help this friend if they are also willing to help you with your spring cleaning and downsizing efforts. It’s also possible—though I have never tried this, so I am merely speculating—to through a “spring cleaning party” with the promise of pizza and a cold beverage afterwards.
However you approach these tasks, try to make them as enjoyable as possible. This can mean anything from cranking up your favorite CD while you determine which items in your bedroom closet need to go, or turning on a TV show you’ve seen before to provide pleasant background noise while you clean out your fridge. I’m an oddball because I like to clean, and for this reason I realize my suggestions might seem ludicrous to those who do not enjoy cleaning. Regardless, I hope these suggestions are helpful no matter how much or how little you plan to spring clean in the upcoming weeks.