According to my mother, the month of March kicks off the official (as opposed to non-official, right?! I feel certain this must be written in stone somewhere…..) Spring Clean which I am oddly loving and slightly addicted to. I think you get the picture…..toxic fumes helping the overall “cleaning” high and a great pair of surgical gloves. The latter lending an assist with clean spaces and hands that , for once, do NOT resemble iguanas! Does anyone else this problem during winter????
Anyway, I find it intriguing that it takes a certain time or season to make feel motivated to finally clean out our closets, but hey, I’m OK with that! My problem most years, is that (you’ll recognize this if ya know me at all), I can become almost catatonic by the thought of it. It always sounds kinda fun and then I find myself in a huge mess of a house hours later and don’t have the energy to keep going. I even added a can or so of Red Bull last year…… not recommending…..just sharing. So! This year I thought I’d take a different approach.
I am on a mission to find a way to make the whole process LESS stressful and overwhelming. But I also wanted it to be effective. The last thing I wanted was to finish in June. This way, by the time spring actually gets into full swing, I’m done and can enjoy the sun (possibly with a frosty glass in hand) and all those fun things! So if you’re looking for a way to spring clean without getting super stressed or it taking six months, read on my friend!
Step 1: BREAK IT DOWN…
The one mandatory thing here is that you commit your TIME. There’s really no way around giving time to spring cleaning (unless you hire someone – which is not such a bad, bad thing if you have a demanding job or lots of company), so it has to be done. I usually take a whole weekend to spring clean and then get so overwhelmed by the end of Day 1 that I don’t even want to look at the mess I’ve made the next day. So this year, I’m going to commit THREE hours a week to cleaning.
Whether that’s THREE hours after work one day, an hour after work for three of the five days of the work week or three hours on the weekend, YOU are in control! Make it work with your schedule but schedule THREE hours for your Spring Clean at the start of each week. Put it in your cell phone calendar AND write it into your fridge calendar. It must be a formal item and you MUST do it as scheduled. No procrastinating. No exceptions. PERIOD.
Step 2: BABY STEPS…
If I know that the area I choose is the area that is MOST challenging (usually my closet or the kitchen “junk” drawer), I’m going to get crabby (yes, it’s a thing). Are we all in on this point? So let’s start with baby steps.
Go into that first hour of Spring Cleaning in an area that’s less intimidating. Maybe it’s your desk, laundry room, or car. Select one that won’t take more than an hour. You’ll have to decide what that area is based on your lifestyle, but let’s start there.
With that first hour and space, take EVERYTHING out of the drawer, car, cabinet, whatever (you are now channeling Marie Kondo). Do a quick clean of the space (just a wipe down – again, my freak side demands that I Clorox as well….) and then start the organizing. Feel free to use the Marie Kondo Method of asking “does this spark joy?” for each item if you get stuck on whether that chip clip is really important to you or not. It sounds insane, but really does help!
Obviously, toss or donate anything that you don’t need anymore (i.e., those super cute file folders you’ve been keeping for y e a r s but never used). If you see that you need to do some shopping for storage boxes or organizing goodies, get a box and put everything from that area in the box until you can finish this area completely. Label the box and start a list of items needed. Put this box away until you have what you need to organize it perfectly (or it’ll turn into an ongoing hot mess). The key here is to stay focused. Don’t waste time and energy “snitting” (technical term) over the lurking box.
Keep all donations in one place so that you can do one organized drop-off at the end of the month (notice I snuck in a time limit for the lurking box here?). You can order boxes like this on Amazon to make things really easy …
Step 3: ONE WEEK AT A TIME…
As you continue going through more spaces with your THREE hours a week, your list of what you need to buy to make the space more organized will likely grow. So, once a week, either go to the Container Store or place an order for organizing help items on Amazon. Amazon’s 2 day delivery is great for this…..
The key is to do this once a week so that your house and spaces stay in good shape, meaning, you don’t have a lot of boxes sitting around the house. You can order what you need and finish that space 1x a week, and you’ll never have more than THREE hour’s worth of stuff to put back.
Step 4: BOX IT …
Another trouble spot for me when it comes to Spring Cleaning is the decision-making. By the time I go through a room or two, I have decision fatigue! It can be SO hard to get rid of things or to make a decision on whether you’ll wear that dress one more time this Summer or whether I should keep the mug I bought in Venice?
So! I buy a few stackable boxes and label them “Decide When Sane Again”! This REALLY helps when it comes to those THREE hours because it creates a “backup” plan. I’m NOT saying this is backed by science or anything but, it does work:)
Put your Spring Clean in your calendar a few months from now and actually GO THROUGH THE BOXES. After a few months, 1. you can see if you actually miss the piece, and 2. you’ve had a break from your big spring cleaning month so it’s probably less overwhelming make decisions, and 3. you’ll already have an organized home so when you do want to put things back in their places (closet, kitchen, whatever), that space is ready and organized so you save time!
OK, that is my “rant”. I am hoping that my little 4 step / THREE hours a week program is doable for you and helps to make the entire process feel less stressy (or scream-y).
Happy Spring Cleaning friends! Let me know if this was helpful to you in planning your BIG CLEAN.