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Spring cleaning: keep the essentials, let go of the rest

clean house spring cleaning

When you sit down and organize a closet or clean out a drawer, you get to ask yourself all kinds of fun questions, like “What was key this for?” and “Why do I have 43 rubber bands and a broken roll of scotch tape?” And at the end of the organizing session you probably have a pile of things to let go of and a slightly cleaner house! But did you know that your mood could actually get a boost too?

According to professional organizer Liz Savage, thinking about your mess weighs heavily on your mood and it gets worse over time. So that junk drawer or messy garage you keep meaning to get to can feel bigger in our minds than it really is, and it can actually give you the blues. Rubber bands and rusty gardening tools don’t deserve that kind of power! Exchange them for a little mental clarity.

By letting go of things in our environment – and in our schedules – we let the things that remain shine. There are a few simple things we can do get that rubber band ball rolling.

Spring clean your stuff:

Let’s Make A Deal

Set up a simple agreement with yourself that if something new comes in, something old must come out. This has stopped many a purchase decision right in the store, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It also helps create an environment in which everything is there because it truly makes you happy or serves a specific purpose in your life.

Humm Quote William Morris

Use What You Have

Hold off on buying any organizational tools just yet. Stocking up on more bins, boxes or shelves can come later, once you’ve done some purging and you know what items you need to organize. You’ll go to the store with a clear picture of what you need and what tools you need to make that happen. Like going to the grocery store hungry, it’s easy to buy more than you may actually need. Plus, you may find some bins or shelves leftover from last year’s spring cleaning adventures! That’s like free stuff!

Create a Plan:

organize closet

Some like to follow the Konmari Method in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and sort by category, like going through all the books in the house or all the clothes. Others like to start in one room and work their way through the whole house. Only have an hour or less to spare? Just pick one drawer or closet and save the rest for another time; the mood boosting benefits will be the same.

Spring clean your calendar:

Let’s Get Dreamy:

calendar plan your ideal day

Get comfortable, we’re going to dream land! Take a deep breath and imagine what your ideal week looks like. Go ahead and make an imaginary schedule that includes all the things you love to do in a week. Maybe you would like to have dinner out every Saturday night, or make a spin class a couple times a week. There’s likely a mix of work, play and family time. Pencil those items into your dream calendar.

Now compare your ideal week and your existing weekly schedule. How different are they? What could you do to make your actual schedule look more like your dreamy week?

 Time Hacks

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We can’t create more time any more than we can wish away the rain, but we can use the 24 hours we have in a day a little more intentionally.

Simply timing yourself while doing tasks at home or work can be a tool in itself. Knowing how much time a task actually takes can change the way your to-do list looks. You might even add less to your list. Using timers like Toggl or Tomato One, can help you plow through projects and answer the question, “Where do all those hours in the day go?” With these timers, you’ll see exactly where it went — which can be really satisfying, or at least clarifying!

For computer work, using tools like Isolator can help you focus on one task that requires deep thinking, like accounting work or writing, and helps to minimize desktop distractions. If you find your mind and your fingers jumping online instead of massaging that spreadsheet, turn on the app SelfControl; it allows you to block websites that you love to get distracted by (Instagram or Amazon, anyone?) or you can simply turn off your wi-fi connection.

Meditation is a major time hack, because it actually helps you tackle your to-do list with more mental clarity. While it may seem like adding one more thing to your schedule, taking even just 5-20 minutes at the start of your day to breathe and meditate helps your mind think clearly and calmly. To multi-task, try it in the shower while you rinse out that conditioner.

Spring is a natural time in our yearly rhythm to clean out and clear out. What have you been meaning to organize, or revamp? Go for it. No time like the present.