Successful Spring Cleaning: Tips to Seriously Tackle Clutter

By on March 28, 2018

By Allegra Gallian–

When you think of spring there are likely many things that coming to mind: new life, flowers in bloom, longer days, warmer weather…

…and cleaning. Your mindset about the mess in your home might be out of sight, out of mind. It’s not surprising that clutter increases over the years and seem to take over entire areas of your house. Spring is the perfect time of year to give your home a fresh start, whether it’s a thorough once over from the basement to the attic or tackle that junk room you’ve been meaning to get to for years.

That’s exactly what Eve O. Schaub, author of Year of No Clutter, did. Schaub’s home has a 567-square-foot room she’d nicknamed the “hell room,” which had been accumulating clutter for two decades.

“The longer these things stayed in this room the more they languished. Clutter attracts clutter. Stacks became piles, and piles became walls of stuff,” she said.

Schaub realized things needed to change when she no longer knew where anything was in that room and none of the items were accessible.

She hopes that her story will not only inspire others to tackle their own “hell rooms,” but to understand the positive ways that decluttering can change your life. This spring, follow Schaub’s lead and tackle your own home’s clutter with these helpful tips.

Take Your Time

The idea of making a serious dent in cleaning and organizing might feel overwhelming. It’s a challenge figuring out where to even begin.

“One of the real keys is to try to slow down because this is not a problem that happened quickly, and it’s not a problem that’s going to get solved quickly,” Schaub said. “Understand that this took a long time to build up, and it will take a long time to undo and that’s OK.”

When you realize that you don’t need to set a defined deadline, it takes the pressure off. Remember, the process of decluttering is just as much an emotional one as a physical one, so it’s natural that it takes time. There’s no “right” way to declutter, and your timeline will be personal to you.

Start Small

Schaub suggested starting to work in manageable increments. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer rings, you’re allowed to take a break or stop. Schaub noticed that after the 15 minutes were up, she would feel motivated to continue working for another 15 minutes or even a whole hour.

Making small dents in your clutter allows the light at the end of the tunnel to shine through a little brighter, and the more organized you get, the easier the overall task will feel.

Make it a Group Effort

Having a support system is a great way to stay motivated in anything you do. It gives you people to rely and lean on during times of struggle and celebration. Decluttering is no different. Schaub made decluttering her “hell room” a family effort and was surprised by the results.

“I think one of the things that was most surprising and almost downright shocking was that my daughter was the biggest cheerleader of this project,” she said.

Since part of the clutter was her two daughters’ items, it made sense to make it a family project. Their goal was to make the room enjoyable and usable for everyone. Including spouses, children and others in your cleaning project can make it more fun, and it allows you to talk about what you’re experiencing as you remove and organize the clutter.

Understand and Accept the Emotions

Decluttering can be an emotional process. You’re likely holding onto items you feel sentimental about, and it can be hard to let those feelings go.

“A lot of clutter is about fear – fear of regret, remorse, fear of making a mistake,” Schaub said. “There was this side of myself I had never recognized. I stepped back and realized I was afraid of not being perfect.”

She also noticed the fear of making a wrong decisions manifest as clutter, and that creates a drawer/room/house of decisions waiting to be made.

“You have to make thousands of decisions,” Schaub said. “It’s painful at first, but with practice it does get easier.”

By understanding and accepting the emotions you experience as you sort through the clutter, you can begin to separate the feelings from the actual items. Schaub noted that if you privilege your space over your stuff, you can begin to enjoy your space more if there’s less stuff in it.

Allegra Gallian is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in lifestyle, health, wellness and fitness. She lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing, Allegra enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Allegra Gallian

About Allegra Gallian

Allegra Gallian is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in lifestyle, health, wellness and fitness. She lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing, Allegra enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

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Successful Spring Cleaning: Tips to Seriously Tackle Clutter