Do you hesitate to invite friends over because your house is a mess? Do you cringe when you look at the inside of your car, purse or pantry? Do you have a closet or cupboard that attacks you when you open it? Can you easily find things in your home and office? If you answered no to any or all of these questions, perhaps it’s time to consider Spring Cleaning.
First, let me set the record straight, I’m no Martha Stewart when it comes to housekeeping. In the Spring, especially, I’d rather be out in the garden. But I’ve learned that just as we clear away leaves and prune the dead wood from plants and shrubs to encourage new growth, cleaning and clearing clutter from our homes is an effective way to free up energy and make room for new possibilities in our lives. So this year I’ve been weeding out clutter, cleaning and organizing closets, cupboards, and drawers and it feels great.
Clearing clutter is an exercise in letting go. Cleaning and clearing is physically tiring but can be energizing at the same time. Dirt and clutter distract and bog us down. Getting rid of it creates a feeling of ease and lightness. Paring down to the essentials is movement toward simplicity. There’s a sense of peace and serenity that results from restoring order to our surroundings. With clearing, we create space. Nature abhors a vacuum, so by creating space in our physical environment, we pave the way for new things to come our way. This doesn’t mean that the now-empty physical space will necessarily be filled by another object. Instead, a new opportunity in a totally different area of our lives could be drawn to us. It sounds rather hocus pocus, but I’ve seen too many examples with my clients and in my own life to believe otherwise. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my client landed a big interview after overhauling her apartment, that two new clients appear after I clean my pantry, or that another client’s request for the summer off is approved days after she organizes her attic.
Here are 10 Spring Cleaning tips to get you going:
1. When in doubt, throw it out. If you haven’t worn or used something for the past 6-12 months you’ve obviously done quite well without it. If you have pack rat tendencies (which I confess, I do-everything seems to have art project potential) box up the items in question. If you still don’t use them within the next 3-6 months, toss them. You’ll never miss them when they’re gone.
2. File a pile-If I’m feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, one of the quickest ways for me to feel centered again is to get rid of the mail pile that accumulates on my kitchen island. If you are feeling scattered at work, file away papers and clear your desk to help regain clarity.
3. Reduce-Once you begin creating space, don’t fill it with more unneeded stuff. To keep the mail pile from building back up, go to www.newdream.org, and select the campaign for independence from junk mail which will generate letters to get your name off mailing lists. Think twice before buying. Take advantage of your local library. You can borrow books, videos, DVDs, CDs, CD-Roms, and in some towns even paintings.
4. Reuse-pass outgrown clothes and toys on to relatives or friends. You’ll feel good about getting get rid of your stuff, and they’ll be pleased with the hand-me-downs. Local charities, shelters, and food pantries usually welcome donations. You could also turn this into a profitable experience by bringing items to a consignment store or having a yard sale.
5. Recycle-are you a box collector or a magazine and catalog hoarder? There’s no need to save a product’s box beyond its warranty period. Cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, and magazines can all be recycled. Put them out with your curbside recycling or take them to the dump.
6. Have a place for everything and train yourself and family members to put everything in its place. If organizing isn’t your forte, consider hiring a personal organizer. The website for the National Association of Professional Organizers is http://www.napo.net.
7. Read up on it. If you are a person who likes to research a new venture before you jump into it, then you’re in luck because there are lots of good books on the subject. I highly recommend: Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston Speed Cleaning, byJeff Campbell Clutter Control, by Jeff Campbell Organizing from the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern
8. Make an investment. Spring for some tiered shelving for your pantry, a double rod for your closet, or whatever it takes to keep items organized and easily accessible.
9. Schedule regular purgings. My children have learned that in order to make room for new birthday and Christmas presents they need to part with some of their old toys. Just as children outgrow their toys, adults outgrow their stuff as well. Especially if you are growing through personal development work or coaching, be sure to update your surroundings to reflect who you are becoming not where you have been.
10. Reward yourself for all of your hard work. Treat yourself to a take-out dinner. Sit back and enjoy your orderly surroundings. Put your feet up and relax with a good novel or take a nice long bath.
There are lots of ways to get started with Spring cleaning. One technique is to set a timer for fifteen minutes once a day and do as much as you can in that time. If you can devote an entire day or afternoon to the project, you’ll obviously cover more ground. You might want to start with the area that’s bugging you the most. Sometimes it helps to tackle the quickest and easiest tasks to help build some momentum. Whatever pace and strategy you choose, you are bound to enjoy the immediately visible results and the new things you attract.