Spring is in the air. The number of sunny days is increasing, and I can feel myself unfurling from Winter. Spending all of that time indoors, I am excited to fling open the windows and breathe in the fresh air. Spring feels clean and fresh and even more so when my house is also clean and fresh!
Spring cleaning lists I've followed in the past have been precise - flip the mattresses, wash comforters, dust bookshelf, clean oven and more but, these are all very tactical and item-oriented.
The many small tasks can be overwhelming and take forever - particularly when you get distracted by pleasant and unpleasant discoveries as you go!
Who better to consult on organizing a Spring clean than someone who organizes for a living, a Professional Organizer? I talked to Joan McCreary and have gathered some great tips for us all to use as we begin our cleaning process.
When you have a plan and a system in place, the job can feel much less onerous.
To get Spring cleaning done fast, take a logical, planned approach to:
a) maximize effort
b) minimize time spent cleaning
c) feel in control of the process as you clean and organize.
Here are the top 5 tips for organizing your spring clean from a professional organizer.
Clean with an Objective Eye
We all have our favorite bits and pieces we put on display on a bookcase or shelf. And it sits there gathering dust and largely ignored. Or perhaps it is piles of magazines you plan to read, crafts you took out on a rainy day, and leave it out to remind us of our plan or things that need fixing when you have a moment.
Having an objective eye to clutter is such a hard thing for most of us to do with our own stuff.
We tend to develop clutter blindness as well as missing the smudges and dust that build up. (I looked up last week and found my son's fingerprints on the ceiling - he tells me that was from years ago!)
Professional Organizer Tip 1: One technique I've used to see a space more objectively is to get a tube (paper towel cardboard or just curling your hands can work) to look through with one eye. Look over the floor along the walls, or the countertops, to focus on one space at a time. What do you see? You might be surprised at what you look when you eliminate the context of the rest of the house and start seeing the details!
Sort with Containers
One of the things I know I'm guilty of is creating piles for 'later.' If I use my new 'objective eye,' I know that I really am not going to get around to reading that pile of magazines. I also have a stack of clothes to go to the local thrift store that has been there for far too long.
That cupboard I have promised to clean out - well, there is that also. The things you begin to notice can start to feel overwhelming. Making quick decisions as you hold each item can really help move things along.
Professional Organizer Tip 2: Keep your trash, recycle and donate containers nearby. As you pick up items to dust or review, make it easy to put things into the discard bins by keeping this trio of containers close at hand.
Here is a great resource for what to do with all of that stuff too - Donate and Recycle Guide
Don't Try to Clean Everything all at Once
Spring Cleaning doesn't happen in one day. It takes a while to develop dust and clutter, and it certainly takes time to clean and clear it too. Besides, some tasks will require soaking or multiple passes to really make them clean. Windows can definitely be one of those things that take multiple days.
Professional Organizer Tip 3: Don't try to do it all at once. Working on one part of a room or at least just one room at a time can prevent you from burning out. Most people don't have the stamina to sustain a multi-hour cleaning job. For those that do - kudos to you!
Clean One Area in One Direction
This tip goes alongside not trying to achieve whole-house organization and cleanliness in one single day. Have you ever washed your entire floor and then realized you hadn't dusted yet? There is a way to avoid doubling your workload.
Professional Organizer Tip 4: Work from top to bottom, left to right. Yes, there is really a right direction to clean!
Starting at the top of a wall or piece of furniture and moving down means that dust and grime that are knocked loose will fall to the dirty surfaces, not ones you've already cleaned. Moving from left to right will keep you on track if you get distracted or have to pause your work.
Tag Items for a Revisit
While you may be carrying along your recycle, trash and donate containers, what do you do when you find things that have an 'other' category?
Or when you are cleaning one room, and you notice some nicely placed fingerprints that you really need a ladder and bucket of soapy water to clean? Not wanting to get distracted from your focused top to bottom, single thing you are cleaning, our Professional Organizer has a great tip!
Professional Organizer Tip 5: Use blue tape to tag items that need repair. A small bit of blue painter's tape can call out a loose screw, a stain that needs scrubbing on the wall, sticky areas that need extra attention. This method allows you to move on with your general tasks without getting distracted by the detail work that you can return to later.
Thanks to San Francisco Bay Area Professional Organizer Joan McCreary for these great tips! Now, to just get started - Happy Spring!
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