The weather is finally warming up and the pollen is definitely falling. There is no denying it’s spring! If you’re like me, besides thinking about the Easter Bunny and maybe losing a few pounds for summer, you might also have the dreaded words “spring cleaning” haunting your thoughts. There’s no doubt that spring cleaning can seem overwhelming, and maybe the last thing you want to do now that it’s finally warm enough to venture outdoors. But, did you know the benefits of a nice thorough cleaning will leave you feeling more relaxed and comfortable in your home as well more motivated and productive in other areas of your life? It’s been proven that having everything in its place and neatly organized can change your attitude and mental state in a positive way. In fact, freeing the literal clutter from your scope of vision day after day will also relieve the “clutter” in your mind.
I know what you’re thinking. “But you haven’t seen MY home, MY family, MY stuff that is falling out of every closet and drawer.” I know the feeling. But before you lose faith, I have a plan that will make tackling this “elephant” of a job much more painless. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right?
Usually, every year before Easter, I give up something for the 40 days of Lent. Sometimes it’s soda, chocolate, you get the idea. This year I decided instead of NOT doing something, I would START doing something, every day for 40 days. My inspiration was a blog at whitehouseblackshutters.com. It described a “40 bags in 40 days” solution to freeing your home of clutter. There you can also find an awesome printable that will let you list all 40 of the “areas of attack” that you can then date and cross off as you go. (I love to make lists and cross things off, who’s with me?) The thought behind this strategy is that the 40 areas you list are small “bite sized” tasks that will take only a few minutes of your day so you don’t get overwhelmed. For example, my list included: my medicine cabinet, the drawers in my nightstand, inside the fridge, under the kitchen sink, the dining room buffet, my son’s closet, my daughter’s dresser, just to name a few. Now if you have areas that might seem more extensive, like your clothes closet or your garage, I would recommend breaking them down even further to keep them manageable.
Once you have a plan for the areas that need attention you can give a focus to one each day. During that time you will remove everything from that area and sort it into bags of things that can be donated, trash bags of things that are just trash and a third category of things that can be safely returned back to their place, (or maybe an even better place than they were being stored originally.) The idea is to keep the jobs small and quick so you aren’t filled with dread at the idea of getting started. Ironically, I got so excited by the calm clean look of my newly purged and organized medicine cabinet that I couldn’t stand waiting for the next day to continue and I jumped right into my nightstand next! If you have that feeling you’re doing it right and keeping the tasks small enough to manage. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, try breaking the jobs down even further. There’s no shame in admitting you can only handle one dresser drawer at a time, or just one shelf of the closet. And you may find that after the success of organizing several aspects of your home, you think of even more areas to add to the list. I ended up with more than 40 in the end. And, don’t forget that it doesn’t have to be physically cluttering your space to leave you feeling bogged down. Have you gone through your email folders lately, or the 12,000 photos on your phone? Those electronic areas of our life can be clutter free too.
I loved this project and even though Easter has come and Lent is over, I’m inspired not only to keep my newly purged and organized areas tidy, but also to continue into other areas that I can improve in my home. They say it only takes 21 days to make a habit, right? This was truly a win – win. Not only do I feel more calm and focused to have everything exactly where it belongs, but my kiddos can find their toys more easily, my friends’ kiddos have gotten some new hand-me-downs, and the Disabled American Veterans have seen several bags of donated items. I even made a small profit from some items I contributed to the consignment sale at our church. Spring is a season of rebirth and growth and it’s a great time to free your home and your mind of the “stuff” we are hanging onto. So, who wants to try to eat the spring cleaning elephant?