I know the feeling of being too overwhelmed by clutter to even think about Spring Cleaning. So how do you get started anyway?
Instead of going to bed until the return of winter?
Give yourself permission to just declutter. Use that spring cleaning energy to get clutter out of your house. Even if you don’t get to the deep cleaning you really want to do, your house will look and feel so much cleaner.
When Facing an Overwhelming Mess:
My #1 rule is to start with the easy stuff, and the easiest of the easy stuff is trash. Get rid of that and you’ll reduce the overall mess, and reduce your overwhelm. I recommend using a black trash bag, especially if you have kids, so they can’t see what you put in the bag and decide it’s their very favorite possession ever.
After you get through the trash, how do you decide what to do next, how do you keep going?
Do the other easy stuff. Look for things that have an established home, but aren’t in that home. Take them where they go.
But what if you’re not sure where something should go?
I have two simple decluttering questions, and they work no matter how overwhelming the mess.
Question #1: If I was looking for this item, where would I look for it first?
Don’t analyze, just go on instinct. Then (and this is so important) take it there right now so you don’t make a pile to have to deal with later. (More on that and why it’s so important here.)
If I can’t answer that first question, I have to be honest with myself and answer my second decluttering question.
Question #2: If I needed this item, would it ever occur to me that I already had one?
If the answer is no, I stick it in my Donate Box. If I didn’t know I had it, I wouldn’t look for it and would go buy another one.
Really. If you’re not convinced, go here to see how the two decluttering questions play out in real life.
What’s unique about my Donate Box?
It has to be donatable. I’m going to send the box itself off to be donated with the stuff that’s inside it. I don’t want a pretty Donate Box because then I’d have to transfer my clutter into another container before it actually left my house, and that’s a recipe for disaster. This way, I’m forced to make a final decision about each item as I either put it away or donate it.
Should you clean as you go?
If the clutter is overwhelming, the focus needs to be on decluttering, but having basic tools for dusting and sweeping is helpful so you can deal with the dust bunnies and dirt you uncover as you purge the clutter. I like to keep my duster and a sweeper handy as I declutter. As I move through a space, the area I finish is clean and looks finished, even if it isn’t deep cleaned.