I know that many people think that “spring cleaning” is a novel idea. The idea is that you’ll clear out every thing you’ve accumulated during the winter months so your home is prepared to take on the summer.
It’s a nice idea, isn’t it? But do you (or anyone) ever actually do it? It’s the kind of thing I think about in January. Often times spring rolls around and I’ve already forgotten about it.
Here’s the reality of the situation: Spring cleaning is wonderful, but only when partnered with winter, summer, and fall cleaning. Yes, my loves, I am insisting that you do a massive scale cleaning of your house every quarter.
It sounds daunting right now. The holiday season is malingering, we’re all bloated, and with all these layers on I’m fairly certain I can’t even feel my elbow, let alone bend it. Still, the show must go on. Yes, this first time will be hard. But when you do it again in March you will be SO glad you did it now.
I can’t tell you how to organize your things. The best system of organization is the one that works for you. You may need to experiment a little (nope, that wasn’t just something you tried in college!) to find out what works best. There’s no one right answer.
I’m sure you know the basics of massive cleaning, what with forming the three piles (Toss, Keep, sell/donate) and all. But if you’re struggling or just needing some assistance, here are some guidelines to get you started:
Start in the areas no one sees. Do much entertaining in your storage unit? I don’t think so. These are the areas we neglect during our daily and weekly cleaning, and the first place we turn when we want to get things out of the more public areas. If you clean out and organize the “private” areas first, it will help you be prepared for cleaning and organizing the public ones.
Use the Mount Vernon Method. The Empress Dowager taught me this, not by this name, but I guess that’s where it started. You begin in one part of the room and don’t move on to the next area until the first is done. This is the most effective way to do your daily cleaning as well.
Go with your Gut. Follow your first instinct when you look at something. Don’t let a sense of guilt or obligation bribe you into keeping things you really should be moving on from.
Enforce the One-Touch Rule. If you touch it, you have to decide what to do with it. This helps keep you from moving things around multiple times before coming to a conclusion or getting so frustrated you can’t make a decision.
There are no Go-Backs. If you put something in the “toss” pile, it stays there. No going back!
Don’t get Stuck on the Details. If you pick something up and just don’t know what to do, it’s okay to add a 4th “pile”. Instead of a pile, however, make it a box. It can be a big box if you have room to store it. This box is for all of the things you’re just not sure about. Store them there until your next massive cleaning session and re-evaluate. If you didn’t come back to the box in 3 months – give it all away!
Never Underestimate the Power of Partnership. If you get into a jam, call for backup. It should be someone you’re close enough to that you trust they’ll tell you the truth, but not someone you’re very attached to like your mother or boyfriend. Your friend, regardless of his/her own organizational status, will be there to act as your sounding board and talk you down from keeping all 6 “bridesmaid” buttons you got from being in your friend’s wedding.