Connie Goates, owner, All In Order Professional Organizing

Isn’t spring rejuvenating? There is something about the tulips breaking through the thawing dirt and the spring sun warming me up that makes me excited: I’m excited to open my windows and get some fresh air. I’m excited to rake the grass and turn the dirt in my yard. I’m excited to do some spring cleaning in my home.

Historically, spring cleaning meant removing the winter coal and soot that accumulated during the dark, cold months. But this spring, it’s time to clear the accumulated clutter that is taking over our homes.

Clutter includes unnecessary, unloved, and unused items that take our time and energy and affect us more than we realize. Clutter increases negative emotions such as stress, confusion, lack of focus, irritability, depression, and more. Psychologist Mark Travers wrote, “Reducing clutter minimizes distractions, allowing your brain to concentrate on more important tasks at hand … The mental rejuvenation that comes from decluttering is clear evidence of the link between our physical surroundings and cognitive function.”

So, let’s do it! Let’s get rid of some clutter! Get some mental rejuvenation to be more efficient, focused, happier, and feel more in control of your surroundings. You can do this!

First off, start small. Start with the junk drawer in your kitchen or under your bed. Take everything out … yes, everything! Sort all the items into different piles: keep, trash, donate, and relocate. KEEP items that you use regularly, love, and need. Keep items that bring you joy, make you smile, or are helpful. Keep clothes that you feel good in; ones that fit you well.

TRASH items that are broken, empty, missing parts, stained, or expired.

RELOCATE items that you don’t use in this particular space.

DONATE items that still have some use in them, that don’t fit anymore, or that you don’t like. Donate items that someone else could get use from.

When it comes to clutter, sometimes it’s difficult to part with certain items for various reasons. For some, getting rid of something you spent a lot of money on, such as an old computer that no longer works and is worth nothing, is hard. Others hang on to items gifted to them out of guilt. Whatever it may be for you, here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind as you declutter your space to feel rejuvenated:

  1. When it comes to gifts, it is the act of giving that matters. Marie Kondo said, “Presents are not ‘things,’ but a way of conveying one’s feelings.” Be grateful for the kind gesture and let someone else enjoy the item more than you do.
  2. Remember, the 90/90 rule. Ask yourself, “Have I used this in the last 90 days, or will I use it in the next 90?” With the exception of seasonal items, permit yourself to part with it.
  3. If it’s not your favorite, the best one, or necessary, let it go. For example, there’s no reason to keep four ice cream scoops. Keep the one or two you use most often, and donate the others.
  4. It seems that 80% of the time, we wear 20% of our wardrobe. When was the last time you donated a shirt to charity and later said, “I wish I had that old shirt back?”
  5. Ask yourself: “Since I rarely use this item, is there someone nearby I could borrow it from?”
  6. Consider keeping a box of “maybes” or items you’re unsure about parting with. In a month, open the box, and if you haven’t missed any of the items, it’s time to let them go.

You can do this! Getting rid of clutter is not a one-time event; it is more like a marathon: one drawer, one shelf, or one closet at a time. You’ll quickly find that as you get rid of trash and donate unneeded or unwanted items, you will feel energized, lighter, and ready to take on more!