Spring Cleaning: A How-To Guide to Decluttering your Home

As the days get rainier and the weather warms up, there’s a natural inclination to update our surroundings.  We pack up our winter clothes, let our fireplaces dim and suddenly realize that we’ve accumulated too many paperbacks that we have no intention of reading.  As winter winds down and finally stops (for the next 6 months at least), April is the ideal time to clean up our spaces and get ourselves ready for the new season.  Here are a few cleaning tips inspired by professional organizer Marie Kondo’s hugely popular KonMari decluttering method to make your spring cleaning sessions much easier.

DON'T believe the mantra that you should do a little bit at a timeDo it all at once, in a mad fit of cleaning.  (And don’t listen to music while purging, which can alter your inner dialogue and distract you into procrastinating).  Dedicate a weekend to cleaning and you’ll be surprised at how many bags of clutter come out by the end.

DO consider whether an object is fulfilling a purpose for you at this specific moment of your life.  Do you have favorite clothes from your college days that don’t quite flatter or suit your current style anymore?  Do you have books you thought you’d read but keep putting them off?  Decide whether you truly love it, and stick to that first intuition.  If the answer is no, a little, or I will in the future it’s probably not worth it.  With books, at least, you can always borrow a copy from the library.

DO follow this order for organizing: “Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellany) and finally things with sentimental value.  By starting with the easy things first and leaving the hardest for last, you can gradually hone your decision-making skills so that by the time you reach the hard stuff, the process seems simpler.”

DO tidy like objects at once, rather than cleaning room by room.  This helps to thoroughly sort through entire categories of items, and helps you understand your total inventory.  When you’re deciding which books to part with, take all the books from your entire house, not just your bedroom.  Otherwise your cleaning will drag on forever and you could get stuck with an unsatisfying book because you’ve overlooked your small basement library.

And finally, DO donate, consign, or throw away your bags of clutter within one week.  It’s all too easy to gather 20 bags, pat yourself in the back for a job well done and leave them in the basement for a month.

Once you’ve gotten used to making a choice, decision-making in general gets a lot easier: which books to read, which projects to pursue, even which relationships to keep.  Ultimately it’s not just cleaning your space that de-clutters your house; a good cleaning teaches you how to de-clutter your brain, and eases you into making hard decisions.