Spring has sprung and we feel the need to start opening windows and throwing out junk. That’s the way most people start thinking when it’s time for a good spring cleaning but we always seem to get stuck. We lose focus or lack motivation once we look at that spare room, the basement or the playroom. We become overwhelmed or we just don’t know where to start.
So we start to Google “easy steps to declutter” and then you get a million suggestions.
All you need to do is to start small and I promise you, you’ll get going soon enough that you won’t know how to stop decluttering!
When you find yourself stuck in a pattern of avoidance, the best method to change that pattern is to start with small tasks. Also making the work time restrictive helps. This means, you don’t have to organize for days, just start with a few minutes at a time. For ten years I was a professional organizer and I loved to help people declutter and get organized. I wrote a series of posts called Margarita Manic Monday Minutes in which I gave my readers small tasks to get organized. Although, these days I mostly write about travel, I have not been able to discard these posts because I still love to help people get organized – a few minutes at a time!
I hope that this post will help you with your spring cleaning and help you start decluttering. Even doing just one little thing is progress. To help you along your way, I have added the amount of time that you should be spending on the task. This will help you go through this quickly and efficiently. Set a timer, blast the music and have at it!
- Clear Just One Surface – Be it your kitchen table, your desk or even your bathroom countertop. Make it a surface you see daily, and be sure to keep it spotless. Allot 20 minutes to this task and purge with abandon. No more than 20 minutes on this task.
- Empty a Shelf – Now that you have a surface cleared that you will see every day to provide you motivation, you can move on to another small task. Empty just one shelf. Remember to continue to keep it neat. 10 minutes at the most to clear the clutter
- Designate a Paper Zone – By now you’ve certainly accumulated paper. Nothing multiplies and gets out of control like papers. Designate an area as a catchall for your paperwork (use a box or a paper tray). Give yourself 15 minutes to go through all this paper.
- Find Homes for 5 Things – We all have a few items that never seem to get put away. Carefully choose your five most commonly left-out items, and find special places to store them. Even if it’s just a box with a cover in it, place them there and know they now have a ‘home’.
- Donate Five Pieces of Clothing – Clothes are often the worst to declutter. Pick five pieces you have not worn in the last two years and put them in a bag in your closet. Keep doing this over the next few months and by the end of the season, you’ll have a bag to donate.
- Dump One Drawer – Everyone has one. That one junk drawer that attracts clutter like white lint to your black pants. Pick just one drawer in your home to declutter. Then dump it out. This lets you see everything at a glance and makes the sorting process easier. Be quick, don’t think about whether you are going to use that item or not… just toss it! 15 minutes tops on this task!
- Organize Your Medicines – Dispose of expired medications at your local pharmacy. Go through your over-the-counter remedies and get rid of anything that you have not used. Place all band aids, bandages and other health supplies together – label it clearly. Tackle just your medicine cabinet, creating a neat and tidy place to keep the up-to-date items you use most regularly. 15 minutes should have this done.
- Tackle Your Hall Closet – Time to put those winter jackets away and clean off the salt from your boots and put them into storage. If its the fall, then store those flip-flops and sandals to make room for your boots! 20 minutes should be more than enough.
- Go Through Your Linen Closet – Do you have more than one set of bedding per bed? Do you own more than one towel per person? Growing up each child had a colour of towel that was theirs and theirs alone. So if there was a towel on the floor we always knew who left it there. This may seem crazy but it worked every time. Allot 10 minute per shelf in the linen closet.
- Get To The Donation Centre STAT – Remember to recycle what you can (paper especially) and donate as much as possible. Clothes, books, small appliances, the Good Will will take just about anything (except for beds and cribs). Once you deliver your goods to them and see that empty car, you will be over the moon. See how easy it is to get rid of stuff?
Don’t get overwhelmed by tackling too much for too long. You will burn out easily and feel defeated. These small decluttering tasks are adding up. Take a look around and picture how your room might look when completely pared down and organized. Visualization is a powerful motivator. You have the capacity to create joy in your life with less stuff. Trust me, taking small decluttering steps is easy. Soon you’ll be on your way to big life changes.
A Canadian Lifestyle and Travel Blogger, Margarita Ibbott is a mother of 3 teen & adult children. Her philosophy is to live with less… and travel more. Her stories relate to her travel through Canada, US and Europe with a few life lessons thrown in. Her blog is focused on the 50+ and multi-generational traveler.
In her other life, she was a professional organizer for 10 years and helped people get rid of the clutter and bring order to their lives.
You can find her on any social platform as @DownshiftingPRO or at her blog DownshiftingPRO.com