Spring is finally here! This is exciting news in my corner of the world. Here, like many places, we had a very tough winter which held on until VERY recently and didn’t want to let go! But finally, spring has arrived – hooray!
Traditionally, spring is the time to clean the house, clean the garage, clean the attic, move out the old, move in the new. Sometimes, we’ve been so immobilized from the cold winter months of hibernating indoors that it’s hard to make a start on this worthy annual activity.
Clutter is disadvantageous to us for so many reasons. It’s distracting, depressing, unsightly, and makes it very hard to find anything. The best way to clear the clutter is to pare down your possessions to what you really need and really want. This will create a lot more space for you to incorporate the items you do want in your life. And for anyone with a preparedness gene, you know you always need more space!
Remember that the clutter didn’t appear magically overnight, and it’s not going to disappear overnight either, unless you’re willing to just chuck everything in the trash. But if you were that type, you wouldn’t have accumulated clutter in the first place, now would you? It will take time to go through your clutter, pare things down, decide upon an organizational system that works for you, and implement it. So set realistic GRADUAL goals, and just get started.
First and most importantly: make a start
Resist with every fiber of strength in your being the impulse to “start” by going shopping at The Container Store or ordering a whole bunch of bins and baskets online or worse yet, spending your hard-earned money on someone else’s organizational system before you even really know what you have that you want to keep.
Don’t do it! First, you have to go through your stuff so you know what you have, and then you’ll know how you want to organize it.
Always be prepared to start. – Joe Montana
For me, when I let things go and there’s a bunch of clutter, it becomes overwhelming and I don’t know where to start, so I just don’t. And then the clutter starts to take over. I also fight perfection tendencies in many aspects of my life, so I have this odd thing in my head where I want to wait until there’s a huge block of time and I can “do it all at once”.
Well, I’m here to tell you that block of time never magically appears. Never. Life goes on, day in and day out, and other things need my attention and I never seem to have a huge block of hours to start on this project. So the clutter just sits. Until I make a start.
One great system for me involves nothing more sophisticated than setting a kitchen timer for 25 minutes. It’s long enough to make some impact, and short enough that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. My rule for myself is I set the timer and when the bell rings, I can quit if I want to, or I can continue sifting through and making piles. More often than not, I keep going!
Momentum is a good thing, and seeing that you’re making a dent can be inspirational. It’s the same philosophy as losing weight – when you see results, you’re motivated to keep going.
I like to tackle things from the inside out. I start with drawers and closets and move my way outward. I touch each item I pick up only once.
I use a sorting system I call GREATER ORG:
G is for Give away to someone else who can make use of it – your sister, the local thrift store that raises money for charity, or the church rummage sale
R is for Return to where it belongs – library, video store, someone I borrowed it from, the drawer I took it out of
E is for Eeeeek do I really need all this paper? Can this be scanned and electronically filed instead?
A is for Another room – relocate it to the room it belongs in at the end of your 25 minutes, don’t just set it aside “for later”
T is for Toss in the trash
E is for Exceptions – this is the stuff I’m not quite sure yet what I want to do with, so I put it in a box and let it marinate for a week
R is for Recycle
O is for OK – this item is meaningful and needs to find a place to stay in my home or this paper needs to get organized in my system
R is for Really? What was I thinking? Return this thing with tags still on to the store and get my money back because I don’t need/want it!
G is for Gift it – because I tend to shop ahead for gifts, cards, wrapping paper when it’s on sale, I sometimes have gift clutter
Once you’ve made a start, commit to keep on going until your entire space is organized and happy. If you can spend 2 hours a day for a week and power through it, great! If it takes 6 weeks of doing only 25 minutes a day, so be it.
Set gradual goals that you know you can commit to. Happy Spring Cleaning and get started today!
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