Spring Clean Up!
Imagine an elephant walking into your living room and taking a seat. For most of us that would take up a considerable amount of room. Yet according to the show “Clean Sweep”, that is the average weight of the stuff they take out of each and every home!
Americans have a knack for accumulating. It’s in our DNA. It displays our wealth, our status, our safety and our laziness.
The best way to get rid of clutter is to write about getting rid of clutter! There is nothing like a garage full of stuff reading over your shoulder as you type to get you to purge. And when I speak of laziness, I mean me! In the lather of the garage clean up I gathered up 42 screwdrivers. 42! I can only hope that every time I went to Home Depot they offered me a, “Buy one, get 10 for free” offer, but sadly it was more likely to be, “Where is that screwdriver?!”
So today’s blog is dedicated to the less than perfectly organized, well intended, wanna be organizers who sometimes just don’t know where to start (or in my case, stop). I have collected some ideas from those much wiser than me and I can testify that some of these ideas are working already. And the good news is that if you read this blog to the end you are eligible for a free screwdriver!
DOES IT BRING YOU JOY (OR AT LEAST NOT MAKE YOU CRY)
There are very few of us who have not heard of Marie Kondo and her now infamous show, “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. If anyone could inspire us to change our wicked ways, it would have to be Marie. She exudes patience, kindness and enthusiasm. The good news is that even if you don’t have the organizing gene, her method can tame the most slovenly of us in bite size manageable pieces.
~Take spaces room by room, a little at a time. My advise would be to start with success by working on a space that is in pretty good shape. Making your bed in the morning sets the tone for having accomplished something as soon as you wake up. A check in the win column before I brush my teeth!
~Within a space, break out the cleaning into categories- Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono (misc stuff), and Sentimental.
~I have to admit I am a little obsessed with her clothing folding style. It takes time, which is part of the point, right? So often the mundane is banished to the dark corners of our day that we don’t even believe they are worthy of celebrating. Turns out the only moment we have control over is the present, so why not allow it to take time and honor it. Once you have the clothes under control, engage your senses every time you open a drawer or closet by picking a fun and festive wallpaper or color to use in the interior. I love those kind of little secrets!
~Marie likes to keep books to a minimum, at least out in the open. I probably have more on my nightstand than she would like to see in an entire room, but hey, this is a little bit about embracing the inner you, so I’m keeping my books! You can however organize them in a way that is pleasing and interesting. We naturally gravitate toward symmetry and order (even if we have a hard time achieving it). Books loved to be ordered. Whether it’s balancing them equally on each side of the side table or color coating them for impact, books are an easy way to bring calm and order to a space that is behaving badly. I also like to undress my books. Jackets off please. I usually find them much more interesting (and easier to color coordinate) when they are jacketless. And if the get worn and tired, so be it. Like we as we age, it’s a sign we have had a well loved life!
~Papers! Even in this world of paperless newspapers and contracts, it finds it’s way into our home. Mail, letters (ok I wish it was more letters!), schoolwork, etc. all take a daily toll on our lives. Try leaving a recycling bin as close to your mailbox as possible. It’s considered a win if it never makes it into the house. If you are waste high in mail make sure you take a look at the Direct Marketing Association and opt out of mailings you do not want. The Washington Post has a great article on controlling all of that unwanted stuff (and saving a few trees while you are at it!)
~Komono– Miscellaneous items. So, this might very well be the biggest problem (along with Sentimental Items). This is usually all the items you probably don’t need, but think you might (or worse yet your two year old will want when he graduates from college). This is where her theory on Joy comes into play. Just like with Sentimental Items, hold the item to you and ask if it brings you joy. If not, thank it and move it along to someone who will receive joy from it. In our home we have three piles (or bins in the case of screwdrivers)~ Keep, give away, and throw away (always a last resort and check with your town about the rules on throwing some items out like computers and paint). The Spruce has a great checklist for deciding what to keep and what to move along. Be willing to do with less and you can find more joy in what is left.
~Sentimental Items– Hands down this has to be the hardest for most of us. The baby clothes, the puzzles, the legos! Surely all my kids will want to put their kiddos in those super sweet striped Hanna Anderson jumpers from the 1980’s. Turns out I’m the only one who wants that! Pick a number that seems reasonable (42 is unreasonable) and set aside a clearly labeled container that has that number of items as a representation of those memories. 5 outfits, 3 of their favorite puzzles, 5 flat head screwdrivers. Give the rest a really good hug, a huge thank you, and visualize how much these items really could help others. With the majority of sentimental items taken care of, display the rest with joy!
A few extra tips that friends have shared have been~
~Involved your kids as early as you can. Growing up we had a 1 in- 2 out rule. Knowing that they might be giving up two stuffed animals for that one new one, usually made them think twice about whether they really needed it.
~30 for 30. I had a friend who’s family gave away one thing every day for 30 days. It was such a success that before the month was over, they were giving away multiple things in one day!
~Embrace you. Forgive yourself for the mess you made and don’t be too hard on yourself if you revert back. Although I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into the garage lately, just to look. There is something so satisfying about being about to walk directly to your car without the threat of sharp objects peppering your path.
~For those that gain real satisfaction from seeing things organized (humans actually derive pleasure from things that are neatly arranged. It makes us feel secure), you must check out Things Organized Neatly .
It’s spring! Open the windows, put on some of your favorite jams and get ‘er done. Find Joy in the task and the task will give you Joy….