Do you like spring cleaning?
I hear the Questioners saying, “Why do this in the spring? There’s no magic to that season. It’s an arbitrary choice!”
True. But one of my clutter-clearing aphorisms is “Things that can be done at any time are often done at no time,” so it’s helpful to have a catalyst to undertake a certain effort.
And there’s something about the natural renewal of spring, with its fresh breezes, bright green leaves, and clear sky, that always makes me want to clear out my space.
So where to begin?
Here are some specific, manageable ideas to get you started.
1. Clean out your fridge and freezer. Wipe off the shelves, get rid of anything past its prime, re-organize the bottles jammed into the door (if you’re like my family), and arrange items more neatly. Bonus: put healthier foods in a more prominent position, and put less healthy foods in more inconvenient places—out of sight is best.
2. Go through your closet and choose three items to toss or give away. Yes, three is arbitrary—but it’s the rare person who doesn’t have three things that never get worn.
3. Choose one shelf in your medicine cabinet. Sort through it, toss, consolidate (we had three almost-empty bottles of Advil), and wipe away any stickiness. And speaking of stickiness…
4. Is any part of your house or apartment a bit stinky? The garbage pail, under the kitchen sink, the dog bed? I’m always rolling down the bag of dog food to make sure the smell doesn’t waft up. Bad smells are very distressing, so track them down at their source and put an end to them.
5. Tackle a pile of papers—whether it’s on the kitchen counter, on your desk at work, on the floor of your car, or on the dining room table. Sort, toss, recycle, shred, act.
6. If you want to tackle a bigger project, and you’re so inclined, invite a friend to come over to help you. Especially for Obligers, having company can help them get started and stay on task. Maybe you have a friend like me, a happiness bully who begs to come over and help you clear clutter. (Here are two Happier podcast episodes where you can listen to me “help” Elizabeth clear her closet and her home office). Or maybe you can agree with a friend that you’ll help that person, and then that person will help you. Some people do better alone, but in my observation, many people benefit from an extra pair of hands and a more objective pair of eyes.
7. If you can’t manage anything else, do this: do some internet research or ask around to find out: If you were going to give away some items you no longer need, use, or love, where would you take them? For many people, not knowing where to donate is a big hurdle. Once we know that information, and are reminded that others will benefit from the stuff that’s sitting unused in our house, it’s easier to give things away.
When I’m in a certain mood, I find it very calming to clear clutter. Seeing the open space gives me a feeling of energy and focus. That’s probably why I had so much fun writing my book Outer Order, Inner Calm. Just thinking about clearing clutter makes me happier!
If you’ve read Outer Order, Inner Calm and are looking for further clutter-clearing inspiration, here’s a list of further reading.