Spring is almost here! I’m waiting for rolling green hills, flowers poking their heads out of the ground, and sunny skies with fluffy white clouds.
It’s also time to take a good look at the clutter that has built up in my apartment over the last year. Yikes!
We all know about spring cleaning, and most of us dread the idea. It’s definitely a daunting task when you scan all the piles of stuff in the corners, the closet, under the bed, on the counter, or wherever your clutter-magnets tend to be (more on those later).
For every battle (and this is a battle), there needs to be a strategy in place. Over the years, I’ve slowly learned and have attempted several techniques to tidy up my space. Some are meant to tackle the big messes that accumulate over the year, while others are more about daily maintenance after you’ve won the battle.
Here are 6 simple ways to take on spring cleaning and keep the momentum going throughout the year.
Get in the Mindset and Break it Down
Before you can truly tackle your clutter, you have to mentally prepare yourself. This is essential if you’re tidying an entire apartment or house. It’s going to be a big job, and you need to be ready.
A good way to look at it is to break down what you need to do into smaller tasks. There are two slightly different ways to approach it depending on the size of your household.
If you live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment, there isn’t a whole lot of extra space for things to go. Stuff that doesn’t necessarily fall under the same category ends up in the same cupboard or drawer.
For example, the desk in my bedroom contains office supplies in the same drawer as my screwdrivers and a drill. Also, I don’t have enough room under my kitchen sink for things like oven cleaner or trash bags, so they’re in my bathroom instead.
In a two-bedroom household or larger, there’s more space so like items tend to already be in the same area.
Start by making a category checklist. For smaller spaces, use a master checklist. Larger apartments or houses, break it up by room. Here are some category examples:
- Kitchen Supplies
- Office Supplies
- Cleaning Supplies
- Toiletries and makeup
- Bedding and Towels
Find an open space and start sorting things into piles. I have a small apartment, so I can fit almost everything on my living room floor with some overflow onto my bed. Tip: making the bed before starting really helps your mindset and ability to organize!
By spreading out all of your belongings, you can see everything grouped in their categories. This will allow you to look over your stuff and choose what to keep, donate or purge. It also allows you to put everything back in a neater, more organized manner since you’re now completely aware of everything you have and can clearly see the available space. Take it one group at a time as it can get overwhelming if you jump around.
The “Joy” Test
I’m sure that by now you’ve heard of Marie Kondo, if not from her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up then from her Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
I listened to the audio version of her book two years ago, and it really changed the way I think about my belongings and the state of my living space.
While she has tons of wonderful insight and tips on keeping a tidy household, the one idea that stuck out to me makes getting rid of things a much easier process. She says to ask yourself the question, “Does this item bring me joy?”
While it sounds simple, it truly makes you think about the value of that item. Really look at it and see if you feel warm and fuzzy inside. If you don’t, it needs to go.
This is more applicable to things like books, clothes, or knick knacks. I mean, are you going to feel joy when you gaze at your toilet brush… 😉
If you’re super sentimental like me, this isn’t going to be easy. I teared up a few times when getting rid of old t-shirts from college. While they do bring back memories, I never wear them anymore. The joy I used to feel when choosing one of them for my outfit isn’t there now. It’s time to let them go.
When you’re going through your piles, keep the idea of what sparks joy in mind. This is going to help you clear the clutter and make for a much more pleasant living space.
Learn even more amazing tidiness tips in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!
The Two-Minute Rule
After putting in the work to purge and tidy your space, it’s now your goal to maintain it. David Allen’s Two-Minute Rule is so helpful for keeping your household clutter-free.
In his book, Getting Things Done, David describes a rule that applies to all areas of your life. It’s simply having the mindset that if the task takes two-minutes, just do it!
If your unpacked suitcase has been sitting on the floor for over a week, just take TWO MINUTES to unpack it. If you left the mail on the kitchen counter for the last couple of days, pick it up and organize it. It’ll take TWO MINUTES. Coffee sitting in the pot from the this morning? Rinse, scrub, and put it on the drying rack in, you guessed it, TWO MINUTES.
Many times, the little messes and piles of stuff that we find around the house can be taken care of in a very short amount of time. It’s the idea that stops us from taking them on. By changing your mindset and cleaning up the little piles of stuff, you can avoid clutter building up.
Check out Getting Things Done here!
Find the Clutter-Magnets
I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about. Clutter-magnets are those spots in your living space that just seem to attract your clutter. For me, it’s on the side of my bed. There’s a pile of clothes, books, random papers, a stuffed animal or two, and usually a pair of headphones.
Identify your clutter-magnets. It could be the kitchen table, the entryway, or the bathroom counter. Make it your mission to keep these areas clutter free. Apply the two-minute rule any time you see things start to accumulate.
Sometimes, all it takes is a mindset shift. If you’re completely aware of the space where most of your stuff ends up, it’ll be easier to recognize when things start accumulating there.
It’s hard to put things away when there’s no place for them to go. When you have the right kinds of containers and bags to organize and store your stuff, it makes it so much easier to stay tidy.
Something that changed my tidiness game was a jewelry organizer. The one I have hangs in my closet and has tons of little pockets that fit all my earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings. The pockets are made of clear plastic so you can easily see what’s inside. This is such an easy way to keep everything separated and in one spot. The best part is my necklaces don’t get tangled up with one another anymore.
I’ve been on an organizing rampage the last year. Here are some of the storage tools and containers I’ve been loving.
Commit to a Trade
This one is probably the hardest for me, but such a good rule to practice. You’re only allowed to buy something new if you’ve made room by getting rid of something else.
I do this a lot with clothes. Anytime, I purchase a new t-shirt or blouse, I donate an old one. I can always find at least one that I rarely or never wear anymore. It’s so hard to part with clothes, but it definitely helps with my crazy-can’t-fit-anything-in-else-in-my-full-closet situation. I just recently started doing this with jewelry, and it has helped so much. Money-making tip: Poshmark is a great platform if you want to sell your gently used apparel.
Some people will trade out books or makeup. Another big one for me is coffee mugs. I have two cupboards full of them, and it’s time to take a step back and make some tough decisions. It’s definitely hard in the moment, but the relief I feel with a clutter-free space is worth it.
Tidy Up for a Clean Space and a Peaceful Mind
Stress can often be brought on by clutter, and none of us need more stress in our lives. By making a commitment to get rid of clutter and establishing good habits that will help you maintain the tidiness, your living space is going to look great and you’re going to feel great as well.
Pick a weekend or a day off to organize and purge and then set goals for yourself for the rest of the year. Maybe next year, you won’t have any spring cleaning at all 😉
What are your strategies for spring cleaning and maintaining tidiness? Let us know in the comments!