Each year, coming into Spring, I pick a weekend to dedicate to spring cleaning and changing my closets. The secret to getting it done in one weekend is to prepare well beforehand, in just ten-to-fifteen minute increments. Making those difficult keep/donate/toss decisions and clearing out clutter in advance makes small, but noticeable, differences in the process. It helps get my head focused and spurs me on to make the coming big task easier. I take it slow and don’t spend a lot of energy at any one time until the big weekend comes. As the days go by and I see clutter disappear and space open up, it seems to get even easier.
The Prep Strategy
In the kitchen, start small by just cleaning out the refrigerator door, checking expiration dates on the condiments, and tossing out the old stuff. From then on tackle just one shelf at a time. Keeping the one-shelf-at-a-time mantra, move on to the pantry and cabinets.
The bathroom might be small, but it can pack a lot of stuff. Remove all expired items out of the medicine cabinet and toss as directed. Alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and sunscreen all lose their potency and have expiration dates. Check, toss, replace. Expensive sunscreen creams can be re-purposed as foot cream.
Going through the makeup drawer on another day, it’s easy to toss the goopy stuff, the sheer tints that weren’t, colors that didn’t work, and old shadows and mascara. Products you use around your eyes should always be fresh. And, though it’s easy to toss dry, thick nail polishes, take a more discerning eye to the rest and be heartless. Only keep what you know you’ll use.
Don’t allow yourself to be stressed and overwhelmed. Start small in little increments.
With the kitchen and bathroom cleared, it’s time to move on to the bedroom. Here, it’s more than just throwing away expired and damaged goods. Decisions have to be made about what to keep and what and where to discard the rest. This is the room where the big seasonal transfer of goods takes place and it’s easier to do if there’s no decision making to distract you.
Line up four big shopping bags or laundry baskets against a wall and label them: Give to Friends; Donate; Recycle Fabric; and Toss. Taking a drawer or shelf or a section of the closet at a time, take out the things you don’t want or need anymore and put them in the appropriate container. When a bag is full, get rid of it. Plan in advance which friends, charities, and recycling centers you’ll use and make frequent donations. Don’t let it pile up.
Store heavy winter socks and tights in a box. Hold the singles aside. If their match isn’t found under the bed by the end of cleaning, toss. Do the same with gloves, saving the singles for a few weeks in case their partner shows up.
Next, take out all your boots and winter shoes and decide which ones stay. Keep a pair of boots back in case Mother Nature hits one last time, and take the rest to the shoemakers’ to be steam-cleaned (suede) or polished (leather). They’ll come back both ready to be put away and ready to be worn again in the fall.
Your house and habits will dictate what things have to be dealt with and what needs to be done to help you shed Winter and embrace Spring. Don’t allow yourself to be stressed and overwhelmed. Start small in little increments. When it’s time to address the big stuff, you’ll be ready. Good Luck!
Jo Laird currently resides in Greenwich Village. She has worked at a number of top Wall Street financial firms, specializing in equity strategies for individual investors. Her blog, BedCamp.Wordpress.com, explains how and why to spend a day in bed by yourself and focuses on finding time in your everyday life to nurture yourself. Laird's BedCamp writings have appeared on Huffington Post.