Spring cleaning spells freedom to me. It has always been a therapeutic experience. Talk of therapy with benefits! Nothing like expending energy to get that 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 one of the best ways to keep the motivation up!
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!
My spring cleaning sequence
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
Whoa – 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.
I’ve chucked out all the stuff we haven’t worn since 3 months – if we didn’t then, we never will!
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 children’s’ 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?