It's that time of year again when the daffodils are in full bloom, the weak sun is gaining strength and everything starts to feel well.. just better. At long last, winter is well and truly over!
I know that there will be people nodding along with me when I say that I always get an overwhelming urge to have a good old declutter and clean of my house at this time of the year. It's not called a 'Spring Clean' for nothing!
There is something lovely about casting off the warmth and snug of the winter blankets and comforters, throwing open the windows and filling the house with vases of fresh spring flowers.
If you've been hibernating all winter though, decluttering your home and preparing it for Spring can be a daunting task. But it doesn't need to be. Here are my top tips to help you get your home looking ship-shape and Spring-ready in no time.
1. Prepare Yourself.
Before you even pick up a duster, make sure that you have everything you need to get your home cleared. Get sufficient boxes for your needs; I suggest a box for items going to charity, one for recycling, and one for the tip. Make sure that the charity shops and recycling centres are open on the days that you are clearing out so that you can get the clutter right out of your home once you are done.
2. Start in one area only.
Don't try to tackle the whole house at once. Choose just one room, and within that room just one cupboard or shelf and begin there. Commit to finishing that area in its entirety before moving onto anywhere else.
3. Set the timer
We start off decluttering in a state of enthusiasm, imagining well folded clothes, clear floors and minimalist shelving but after working on an area for a few hours you can easily lose motivation and give up. Using the 'Pomodoro' technique can help you to get past these motivation blockers.
The what technique? The Podomoro technique is simply a way to block out period of time to keep you focussed on a task. Simply set an alarm for a small amount of time (between 19 and 25 minutes is about right) and commit to tidying and clearing until the alarm goes off. Once the timer goes off, you can decide to call it a day, or you can commit to doing another round of 19 minutes. This gives you clear, targeted periods of intense work, but also the option to stop once you've had enough.
4. Remove everything
Yes, that's right: Everything. Take every item off of the shelf, remove everything from your closet. This ensures that you are making conscious decisions about what you are going to keep, and what you are going to rid yourself of. Anything that you put back has to be something that you are making an intentional decision about. Maria Kondo tells us that we should only keep objects which 'spark joy'. If it's not useful, and you don't love it, it's time for it to go.
5. Pare down your Clothing
Look, I know that you loved those bright red hot pants and when you lose a stone, they will look great again. But the truth is that keeping old clothing like this is just clutter masquerading as something you think you need to keep. Weed out clothes that you haven't worn for 12 months, clothes that don't fit and clothes that just don't 'spark joy' (see above). And when you lose that stone? Wouldn't you rather treat yourself to something new? Get rid of those hot pants now!
Make extra room in your closet for seasonal Spring clothing by packaging up your chunky winter knits and vacuum packing them before storing them under a bed.
6. Get on top of your paperwork
Ugh, we all know the clutter that is caused by piles of paperwork and magazines. Use one of your 19 minute slots to commit to removing one pile of papers. There are very few documents that need to be kept in hard copy format these days, so unless it's something like a birth certificate or the deeds of your house, photograph or scan the paperwork and store it in an electronic folder, and then shred and recycle the paper.
7. Stop Hoarding
Seriously. You do not need 3 different phone chargers, 8 tins of chopped tomatoes and those cut off pieces of wood "just in case". Those "just in case" items are holding you back from having a home that you love. Purge, and stop hoarding once and for all.
8. Source Sufficient Storage
A quick caveat here: getting sufficient storage isn't an excuse for you to keep the cr*p that you should have been purging in the steps above. As William Morris once said, have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful". Outside of that, chuck it!
However, once you've whittled everything down to just those things that you really do need and want to keep, it makes everything a lot tidier if you have somewhere specific to store it all. A place for everything and everything in its place is your mantra here. So firstly identify what causes your clutter: Clothing? Get another set of drawers. Batteries and Lightbulbs? Get a box specifically for that purpose. Paperwork? Get a filing cabinet and/or in-tray.
Don't forget to make use of the storage you already have. Wasted spaces like on top of wardrobes or under beds are great places to store items which are not needed on a daily basis.
9. Get Cleaning!
And finally... get cleaning! Always start at the top of a room (so dust around the ceiling for cobwebs first) and then work your way down, finishing with the floors.
With all of that done, time to reward yourself with a nice bunch of Spring flowers, or even polishing off the kids' leftover Easter eggs. Go on... I said you could 😉