Originally published in the Huffington Post.
For some areas of Canada the flowers are beginning to bloom again, announcing that spring has officially arrived. For others areas the feelings of winter may be hanging on a bit longer, but one way or the other we are officially moving into the season of growth, change and yes…the opportunity for spring cleaning.
As the warm weather returns the windows are being thrown open to let the fresh air in again, and with this breath of fragrant air comes the chance to put our homes and our lives in order. We can now shake off the comfort of winter hibernation and get rid of the dust and clutter, and claim our space in the world again. But this time of renewal is not just for the spaces around us, it is also for the spaces within us.
We tend to have too much stuff and too much clutter in our lives. When we start to look around our home and see all the things we have accumulated and tucked away in the nooks and crannies, we can easily overwhelm ourselves. Our society is a bit out of control with its relentless need to acquire more stuff.
More does not need to translate into more material objects, but should rather translate into a more meaningful life. Too often people lose themselves in clutter, and feel bogged down by the multitude of things in their lives. These things provide excessive stimulation and become distractions from what is really important in life.
There is no doubt that spring cleaning requires some work. In my book, “M.O.R.E. A New Philosophy for Exceptional Living”, I share ideas on how to get unstuck in life. I explain that MORE is an acronym for movement, opportunity, reality and exceptional outcomes. Many of us may find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and stuck in the physical, financial and emotional clutter in our lives, but avoidance always makes things worse. So rather than “sweep it under the carpet,” let this time of the year be the opportunity to move back to the center of your life. There is great satisfaction and clarity that comes from clearing out the old and letting in the new. Sometimes a little bit of practical spring cleaning may be the reality check that is needed to bring movement, excitement, and possibilities back into your life.
Here are some tips for how to utilize spring as an opportunity to declutter both the physical and emotional worlds.
- Our physical surroundings often mirror our internal world, so remember that a calm and clean space around you can create a calm and clean space within you. When we clear out the junk and distractions around us we are creating open space in our minds as well.
- Be honest with yourself about the cost of clutter. If you are wanting more time for yourself, or with your loved ones, face the reality that disorganization and chaos may be robbing you of the time you crave, as well as getting in the way of your priorities.
- Spring cleaning will require your attention. The house will not clean or declutter itself. Although it is fine to get help to clean the house, there are some tasks that will require you to make the decisions, and you need to be willing to put in a little time upfront in order to save a lot of time in the long run.
- If you are living with others, get everyone involved in the spring cleaning. Make it a family affair if possible. If you are parent, spring cleaning is a great opportunity to teach your children valuable life skills about self-care and time/space management. It is always exciting when you can teach your children practical skills that result in personal growth.
- Stay focused. If you live on your own, or are unable to gather the troops, then start the process anyways. Make a list and then complete a task on the list before moving on to another. It is best to start in one room and complete the cleaning and decluttering required in that room before moving off to the next room. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you complete the room. Things move quicker if you stay focused on one project or room at a time.
- Make cleaning and decluttering fun. Put away the cell phones and emails and turn on your favorite music. If you feel like doing some dancing then do so, and allow yourself some treats and rewards along the way.
- If you do not use something, want it or need it then get rid of it. When doing your spring cleaning create categories for donation, trash or recycling. When you actually see how much useless stuff you have it will help you become more conscious of what you bring into your space in the future. Remember, if you have not used it in a year, stuff becomes junk.
- On a practical note remember the cardinal rule of order — a place for everything and everything in its place! Once you get in the habit of putting things back in their designated spaces it is amazing how much time you will save.
- Go paperless as much as possible, and use your electronics to assist you with organization. Get yourself in the habit of going through your papers as soon as possible. Accumulated piles of paper become stressful and distracting, so try not to let them build up too much.
- Know how to let go. Have a list of pending projects for the future, but know how to close that file so you can be in the present. If you try to keep it all in your mind it will become far too overwhelming.
Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to embrace the life you have and move forward in a powerful and conscious manner. Get your dusters ready…and go!