#AtoZChallenge happiness

Spring Cleaning Spells Freedom

spring cleaning

Spring cleaning spells freedom to me. It has always been a therapeutic experience for me. Talk of therapy with benefits! Nothing like expending energy to get the adrenalin rush! Whenever I feel a little low, one look at my ongoing (too much) to do list cheers me up, strange as that sounds. The thought of getting something done not only takes my mind away from what is bothering me – but also helps me get a better perspective on things.

So on Day 19 of the #AtoZChallenge, I thought it might be a good idea to write about S for spring cleaning, one of my favorite activities.

And spring cleaning is the way to go

I prefer the phrase spring cleaning to clutter clearing, because spring cleaning sounds so much fresher and so much more full of hope. We don’t need science or hype to tell us that getting rid of what we don’t need or use leads to Health, Wealth and Happiness – who doesn’t enjoy a clean home, eh?

There was this phase when spring cleaning became a huge challenge and I managed to resolve it by using a great tip a friend of mine shared with me. The trick is this:  set aside 30 minutes a day.  And the best way to start is to make a list – because thinking of “everything” is overwhelming.

Here’s what I like to do:

  • take a double foolscap sheet of ruled paper (yes, I still use paper and pen)
  • fold it to make eight parts
  • mark each part for a room or space
  • list everything I’d like to do in that room

I motivate myself by writing down every little thing, even if it is trivial, simply because lots of ‘ _/ ‘ marks help me keep up the momentum of doing things. I put a cardboard box in each room to collect things we no longer use or want. The best part is getting the whole family involved in this activity – it is so much fun – and very satisfying. Actually, I confess that determination got me through most days, when all I wanted to do was lay down and close my eyes and wake up next year. Luckily, I am one persistent so-and-so when I have to be and making it a group activity is the best ways to keep the motivation up!

#AtoZChallenge S

Here are some major areas I worked on that made a huge difference for me, and I suspect it will, for most people – good starting point, anyway!:

The refrigerator and store room:

Ah, the enthusiasm with which we stock up!  And store. And sometimes, regretfully, forget. Sigh. So my first focus was the fridge. I took out all the stuff cozily nestling in the freezer and fridge area – perfectly good stuff, current on shelf-life, but no clear idea of when we might use it. I set aside the stuff I am unlikely to use within the next three months. I only kept what I was sure about using in the next month and simply donated the rest of it. I also tightened up on buying only enough grocery/that kind of stuff to last me a week. In any case, what with the present cost of things and living in an area with well-stocked supermarkets, I have no business buying by the sack!. Makes sense in terms of storage – I don’t have to worry about things getting spoilt. Shopping is also much easier this way – and we always have fresh stuff! Makes complete economic sense.

Wardrobe – Closet – linen and clothes

Whoaa – this one was actually a nightmare in some ways. We wear, we wash, we dry, we fold, we press and we stack. There were clothes I hadn’t worn for several months. With the ones that I really like, I was a little afraid they may no longer fit. I mean, I seriously don’t like to acknowledge it if I’ve put on weight. Be honest. Do you? Hmm.  Yet, I bit the bullet and so – emptied out my wardrobe totally. I picked out just the ones I couldn’t bear to part with, stuff that fit me. Well, I also acknowledged that I need not feel sad about not fitting into the same size I was, ten years ago. Sigh. Then I remembered that the best place for emotions is not in things, but in the heart (sniff sniff) and let go. Sometimes I have to do this before I change my mind, because I am such a packrat with stuff sometimes. The only redeeming factor is that I am also ready to give away when someone wants. Not a valid excuse, I know, but …

“One in, two out” – as that is one effective way to keep the overflow in check.

Shoe shelf

I’ve chucked out all the stuff we haven’t worn since 3 months – if we didn’t then, we never will!

Paper

Ugh! This one was tough. Just because we have a lot of attic space, we’d been keeping old magazines, Vidur’s past school books and what not. Gross, I know. Well, all out now. I seriously think attic spaces should be banned. I’ve stopped thinking that “I might want to refer back sometime”. Bad enough it piled up in the first place, but it keeps growing you know. Newspapers go to charity. I give away extra food in decent plastic containers that the recipient can keep. I once remember feeling sad when the people I donated stuff to kept the plastic bag so carefully. I now carry extra stuff with me whenever I leave home, so I can drop it off.

Music and Video

I’ve got loads of video cassettes – movies and shows I’ve been planning to watch since just the last decade or so. God knows whether they’ll even play now. So – am giving away these tapes except my wedding videos which I will convert into DVD format. I am still wondering what to do with my 300 odd audio cassettes.

What about mental clutter?

And now comes the best part about spring cleaning. Its not just physical clutter – it is also about mental clutter too. Letting go of all those limiting ideas and crappy preconceptions. This helps become more organized and this means being more efficient. And? Less searching, less irritation.

It is not about being perfect. It is about being able to access things when needed, better time management, paying bills on time and generally focusing on priorities. Therefore, it makes sense to be clutter-free, as it makes life simpler.

And then there’s the joy of giving – just giving. There is nothing to match the happiness on the watchman’s face when I hand him food in the morning. Nothing can compare with the look on the roadside childrens’ faces when I give them a pack of biscuits, unopened, when I hand over a big bag with extra clothes and plastic bags to the flower-seller….talk about the “I am OK you’re OK” stuff!

Who says happiness is not in our hands?

#AtoZChallenge S

Today, I recommend

Sharmila Kulkarni’s blog
Akhil’s blog

*****

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Harleena Singh
    April 22, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Hi Vidya,

    Your post reminded me to start cleaning up my house and things around as well. 🙂

    While I do keep cleaning and clearing things around, something or the other is always left behind. I guess it’s mainly due to the lack of time. But what needs attention cannot be ignored – isn’t it? De-cluttering things is my favorite and it’s a good time to give away things you don’t use to the needy or poor too.

    Thanks for sharing this and reminding me to get started too. Have a nice day ahead – Happy Earth Day 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Understanding the Power of BeliefMy Profile

  • Reply
    Joy V. Smith
    April 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Spring cleaning! EEEKKK!!!

  • Reply
    Suzy
    April 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    My house needs a good spring cleaning – thanks for the tips – I’m going to try that. Thanks for sharing.
    Suzy recently posted…UBC 22 – AtoZ – Suzy (me)My Profile

  • Reply
    Elle
    April 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    What a super attitude Vidya…you almost make it sound like fun…and I’m almost encouraged to clean out my closet…it certainly needs it. Almost is the operative word here.

    I think I need to invest a little time in imagining my closet in great shape and let my subconscious take over! Perhaps it’ll all come easier.

    Love Elle
    xoxo
    Elle recently posted…Manifesting Everyday Miracles.My Profile

  • Reply
    Lori Gosselin
    April 22, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Vidya! What a positive and refreshing approach to spring cleaning! You’ve organized it, made it fun and gotten the whole family involved!
    I too still use paper. I like the idea of folding it and writing the To Do’s on each section.
    Right now I’m involved in spring cleaning, sort of, on my TCP site – a major site re-design! Yikes! It’s taking a lot of my time but I’m sure the things that need to be cleaned up will be waiting for me when I’m finished!
    I did do some cleaning in the yard on the weekend – that was fun!
    Happy Monday Vidya!
    Lori
    Lori Gosselin recently posted…Have You Read Any Good Books Lately?My Profile

  • Reply
    Kajal Kapur
    April 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Beautiful post! You sound so much like me especially with the last portion of the post ‘ Mental clutter’ I do that most times…and it feels heaven 🙂
    Kajal Kapur recently posted…Smile, Please!My Profile

  • Reply
    Afshan
    April 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    This was such a great post ! The ending summed it all
    Such great tips vidya. If we carefully and patiently clear the clutter then a home will be more vacant and peaceful !
    Hats off for such sensible posts 🙂
    we all miss ur comments :-/
    and The joy of giving anyway is unmatchable to any other joy

  • Reply
    Teresa
    April 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I LOVE cleaning. I try to do it in the Spring and Fall.

  • Reply
    janu
    April 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    True Viday decluttering is so important. I do give things away to charity or to the maid…or anyone needy.

  • Reply
    Corinne Rodrigues
    April 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Spring cleaning is always fun for the feeling of relief it brings when you’ve de-cluttered and gotten rid of unnecessary stuff! Lots of good tips here too.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Save The ElephantMy Profile

  • Reply
    Shilpa Garg
    April 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Are you my soul sister, Vidya!?! Spring Cleaning is so very therapeutic for me too… I keep cleaning and de-cluttering every now and then… and the satisfaction at the end of the day is simply priceless! Loved your tips… have learnt a few new things… will try them out. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…S is for… Spine PoetryMy Profile

  • Reply
    Pheno Menon
    April 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I wait for spring to do the cleaning. IN spring I think winter is better. Till then my better half does it

    PhenoMenon
    Pheno Menon recently posted…Stop this unholy messMy Profile

  • Reply
    Glynis Jolly
    April 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Spring cleaning (and that’s what I call it too) is my way to get rid of tension that builds up in me. Lately this has been happening quite often. The result – my house is looking a lot better.

  • Reply
    Sulekha
    April 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Mental clutter needs to be cleared frequently, lovely post Vidya.

  • Reply
    sharmila
    April 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Getting rid of mental clutter is very very important for me and I make sure I am a regular at it. I struggle with books, magazines and paper , ALL the time.Great tips there. Loved reading this ..
    Thank you for recommending my post. Beaming ear to ear.. 😀
    sharmila recently posted…S—-Sky is the limit !My Profile

  • Reply
    Debbie
    April 23, 2013 at 12:45 am

    I love the spring and getting rid of the old. When it comes to clothes, If I haven’t worn them in a year they must go. Someone else will get more use out of them. I like the paper idea. thanks.
    here is to those no clutter days, thanks to spring cleaning.

  • Reply
    Priti
    April 23, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Really needed these tips! Thanks for sharing it with us Vidya!
    Priti recently posted…Do You Own Any of These Sparkling Craft Items in MetalMy Profile

  • Reply
    Josna Rege
    April 23, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Thanks! Now I know what I will be able to occupy myself with once this Challenge month is over. Until then, everything else piles up around me. Great post–I will return. All the best with T-Z.

  • Reply
    Sandi Amorim
    April 23, 2013 at 1:51 am

    I recently went through the files on my desktop and deleted more than half of the ebooks and programs I’d downloaded over the years.

    Now if only I could clean my house with such ease 😉
    Sandi Amorim recently posted…The Transformation of YouMy Profile

  • Reply
    Pamela
    April 23, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Oooh, organization. I had no doubt it was your middle name!
    Pamela recently posted…I’m from Amarillo, y’all.My Profile

  • Reply
    Roshni
    April 23, 2013 at 2:01 am

    Very sensible way of going about it! I too love cleaning and de-cluttering!
    Roshni recently posted…Blogging from A to Z April Challenge: R is for ….My Profile

  • Reply
    Meena Menon
    April 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I try n not hoard on clothes! Groceries I do a decent job of buying only whats needed – but others I suck at them :-/
    Meena Menon recently posted…Thankful…..My Profile

  • Reply
    Betsy/Zen Mama
    April 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    We are getting ready for a big move next week and this is all I’ve been doing for about a month! I’m ready to give Spring Cleaning a break!! But I’ve had a wonderful trip down memory lane with all the photos and papers I’ve kept over the years. And we’ve given away a lot, too.
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…Epictetus and the Art of LivingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jessica
    April 24, 2013 at 6:12 am

    This post was great! We have so much in common. I too love making lists. Being able to check things off once they’re completed is almost as rewarding as completing them. And I enjoy cleaning. The sense of accomplishment outlasts the cleanliness though. 🙂

    Have fun with a-z.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar
    April 24, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Wow! Vidya, you’ve explained your spring cleaning adventures in such a methodical manner, I am truly impressed, and inspired. I, for one, needed this very badly. I am the kind that puts it off.
    Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar recently posted…U is for . . . UniqueMy Profile

  • Reply
    Koyel
    April 26, 2013 at 9:50 am

    this worked as a reminder! I have to clean up my wardrobe also but i have been putting that off for so long.

    nice article Vidya. can you write in details about getting free of the mental clutter? would like to read about it.

  • Reply
    X is for Xenodochial - Vidya Sury
    June 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    […] Spring Cleaning Spells Freedom […]

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