A messy or cluttered environment can negatively impact on our productivity, our relationships and our happiness. Studies have shown that clutter competes for attention, which reduces the amount of attention you have for the things you need or want to do every day. Clearing clutter can feel good as it lessens this competition for attention and the feeling of overwhelm, leaving us free to think more clearly. However, finding the motivation to tackle a Spring clean can be difficult, so here are six ways to make the task a little less daunting.
Set a time limit
Have you heard of Parkinson’s law? It’s the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In other words, the more time you give yourself to do something, the longer it will take. Creating time limits for projects or tasks, however, forces us to be more focused.
Try this 15min challenge to get you started with your Spring clean. Grab two bin bags or boxes, one for things you want to keep and the other for things you want to toss and tackle one area of your home. Set a timer and get through as much as you can in 15mins. By setting a time limit for a task you are giving yourself a perimeter to work in and by doing so will tend to be much more efficient with your time.
Break it down
Sometimes the thought of a Spring clean can feel too daunting to face, especially when you have a lot of rooms or areas in your home to deal with. Like any big goal, the trick is to break it down into smaller steps.
You might decide to Spring clean one room at a time. Or you could follow the Marie Kondo method of dealing with different categories, like clothes, followed by books and so on, or if that’s still too daunting, you could split your decluttering into manageable daily steps like organising the junk drawer one day, tackling your sock drawer the next etc. The key is to get started. Once you do the boost you feel will help to spur you on to keep going.
How to part with things
Another stumbling block can be letting go of things. The idea behind a good clear out is to get stuff out of your home not to move things around the house. One great tip I got from stylist and wardrobe detox expert, Angie Daly was to ask yourself ‘if you lost or damaged something would you go out and repurchase it?’ If the answer is no then you should let it go.
KonMari Consultant Jen Lawlor says ‘when you declutter the point is not to discard things but actually to figure out what things to keep by choosing what you love’. She recommends you pick up every single item to help you figure out if you want to discard or keep it. Marie Kondo says when you pick up an object, it should ‘spark joy’ simarliry you should feel the opposite for something you want to get rid of.
Marie Kondo also recommends you create a vision for what you want your future life to look like at the very beginning of a declutter process. Use this vision to help you decide what to get rid of. For example, do the clothes you are undecided about fit with your future vision of yourself? If not let them go.
Have a plan
Before you start decluttering, have a plan for what you are going to do with the things you don’t want. A pile of boxes or bin bags full of stuff to get rid of sitting in your hallway for weeks will create another kind of overwhelm.
Figure out if you intend to discard, regift or sell your items—research what different charities will accept. There are lots of options for selling and donating everything from clothes to old furniture. Do your research, and you might even end up with some extra euros.
If you are discarding, make sure you do so sustainably. Old clothes can be given to animal shelters or can be donated to be used as stuffing for furniture. Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine consider reusing the fabric. My mum made masks with some of my Dad’s old shirts, for example.
Make sure you have plenty of bin bags handy but don’t get too hung up on not having any fancy storage boxes or equipment. You shouldn’t think about storage until you’ve finished decluttering. Once you’ve gotten rid of the things you don’t want, then you can decide on how best to store the items that are left.
Make it fun
Have fun with the process, ‘light a candle, put on your favourite music and they have fun’ says Daly. This is excellent advice. We have few outlets for fun at the moment, so let’s try to make even the mundane enjoyable. When it comes to decluttering and clearing out the benefits are well worth the effort. Not only will you be breathing whole new energy into your home by tackling a clear out, but you will reap the benefits too.
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