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Conquering Spring Cleaning, the Easy Way

A how-to guide to quick and painless spring cleaning and clutter clearing

If you're like most people you probably cringe when you hear the words “spring cleaning.”  But it doesn’t have to be so bad.  Spring cleaning is really less about fighting dirt and more about clearing out the excess “stuff” in your home that takes up precious space and creates unnecessary clutter.  If you look at it this way and follow these easy steps it can actually be a fun and relatively painless activity.

The first step is to get prepared.  Make it official by planning a date and marking it on your calendar, if you can’t commit to a whole day, plan to do 15 to 30 minutes a day for a week or as long as it takes.  Next, get three large boxes or bins and label them: "trash," "give away," and "put away." Remember we said this is going to be fun?  Turn on your favorite music, open the windows, and slip into something comfortable, you’re ready to organize!

You want to attack the visual clutter first… the piles of stuff that has accumulated next to the front door, on the kitchen counter (you used to be able to eat on that thing!), next to the bedside table, etc.  Everything should fit in one of the three categories unless that object is exactly where it is supposed to be (this will be the exception not the norm). At this point you may need to make a fourth much smaller box for items that need immediate attention i.e. the cable bill you found among all the clutter that needs to be paid immediately (we call these action items). Once you clear the visual clutter you should: a) be feeling a whole lot better and looking at a much cleaner and organized space, and b) be motivated to apply this process to all the other areas of your home.

Trash box: This should be the most obvious and easiest category; old food wrappers, soda cans, old magazines and newspapers (it can be tempting to keep old magazines you haven’t read yet but let’s be honest, if you haven’t read them at this point you probably never will).

Giveaway box: You really want to think long and hard about the importance of each item in your home, do you truly love it or use it on a regular basis?  If not it should probably go.  For things that you don’t love or need but are having a hard time parting with, keep in mind that it will make someone else very happy and send it off with love.  Notes on closets… unless it is a classic piece or wardrobe staple, if you haven’t worn it in the last year then it should probably go. (Do you really need that Ed Hardy shirt you haven’t worn in years, I mean who wants to dress like Ronnie from the Jersey Shore?)

Put away box: Everything in your home should have its own home.  If clutter builds up easily in your space it’s probably because you don’t have places designated to put those things away.  Assigning a home will help you better decide which things to get rid of.  If you don’t ever use the bread machine it is it really worth the space it takes up on the counter?  Once everything has a proper home cleaning up on a daily or weekly basis will be a breeze.

Action box: Act on these things immediately.  Go online, pay your cable bill then toss or file it.  Don’t let these things pile up and start the whole vicious cycle over again.

Beth Albright April 04, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Great tips Carly!
Jenna Dean April 04, 2011 at 12:55 PM
This is wonderful Carly!!!
Matt April 04, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Carly, thank you so much for your wonderful tips on clearing clutter! I'd love to have your personal touch on some of this - you will be hearing from me shortly!

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