It’s that time, y’all! Spring cleaning has settled upon us!
I’m going to tell you a little secret. I don’t really spring clean. Not in the generally accepted definition. Oh, sure…I’ll have the older boys clean the windows inside and out. I run vinegar through the coffee pot, have my husband change the duct filters, and I might even turn over the mattresses (Not really on that last one. Ain’t nobody got time for that!).
But I don’t get super intense about cleaning my home from top to bottom. Even as I type I know that there is a little layer of dust on my baseboards and a few light bulbs that need replacing. In fact, even as I type this I realize my keyboard could use a wipe-down with a rubbing-alcohol soaked cotton swab.
Life is all about priorities and choices, right? And as much as I’d love my home to be pristine, I’m just not going to spend the time to make it so.
However, I’m all over decluttering and organizing; it’s my personal version of spring cleaning. I go through my office thoroughly: purging unneeded paperwork, revisiting my filing system, rearranging my office supplies, etc. I dedicate an entire weekend for this; my time is definitely well spent.
So much so, that I honestly believe that a good organizational system is a key to success. Why?
You might be throwing away money. Pretty much literally. From lost gift cards, to misplaced tax-deductible receipts, to late payment fees when those bills fall to the bottom of the “in box” (Yes, I’m using “in box” ironically. “Stacks of paper” is more accurate.). When you’re disorganized, those little things fall to the side; and they can really add up. Don’t get me started on overdraft fees banks charge.
Every time you look at that stack of paper, you feel guilty. You know what I mean…your eyes glance over the different piles and you think, “Wow. I really need to take care of that stuff.” That guilt is not only wasted energy, it’s also dragging you down emotionally.
Stop worrying about “Just in case.” We often hold onto things because we think, “OH NO. If I get rid of this I’ll probably need another one tomorrow.” You know what? It’s possible. But super unlikely. If it’s that valuable, donate it to a shelter, Freecycle it, give it to a friend, whatever. If you care so much about an item that you worry about giving it away, you just might care too much.
Replacement costs. And the time you waste looking for things. That back-up toner cartridge that you replace and then find the next day? Wasted money…because you’re going to lose it again next time. Plus you wasted time looking for it. Ditto for those binder clips, postage stamps (What? Grandma waits expectantly for a snail-mail birthday card), and batteries.
Workflow. Optimize it. Got a spreadsheet that shows X, Y, and Z? And a text document that also details Y, Z, and X? Aaaaand then a printed version of both them with handwritten notes? It happens all too often. Declutter your workflow. It might take a bit of time initially to find the right process for you, but once it’s settled you’ll be saving time daily.
So now that you’re convinced, how to go about it? Here’s my patented four-step process:
- Start with a garbage bag. I go through my office with a garbage bag and don’t stop until it’s full. Sure, it’s a small kitchen bag, but I fill it up nonetheless (for bigger spaces, obviously, I would select a larger bag). Wrappers, coffee cups, old postcards on the bulletin board, used up candles, and that plant I forgot to water. It all goes in the garbage bag.
- Empty surfaces. In my office, it’s my desk. I clear everything off and start anew. Before I put an item back on the desk, I consider if it really NEEDS to be there. How often do I use it? Could it be tucked or stored away rather than cluttering up my desktop? Does it serve a purpose other than dust collecting? If the item makes the cut, it goes back onto my desk.
- Go a level deeper. Now it’s time to get to business. I organize my desk drawers, sift through my bookshelf, ruthlessly and near-obsessively organizing. No more of this junk-drawer nonsense…everything has its place, and right in it they go.
- Purge. Purge. Purge some more. It’s crazy how much extra stuff we accumulate and don’t need. I make a pile to donate and a pile to store away for future use. Extra reams of paper? Store. Photo editing software that I know I’ll never use? Donate.
- Lather, rinse, repeat. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of my organizing labor. To me this means kicking back and really living in the space…I don’t stress about keeping the organizational system 100% perfect all of the time. I do, however, notice that when my office starts getting cluttered, my productivity isn’t optimal.
So there might be a few dust bunnies taking up residence under my sofa. Maybe when I spring clean I will evict them. Maybe not.
But my office will get all of my attention for a weekend. My papers will be organized, the filing system will be in tip-top order, and my office supplies will be like little soldiers. It’s one of my favorite weekends, believe it or not. When I’m done, my office is decluttered and my mind is clear, ready to hit my workweek running.
Decluttering. It’s what’s for spring cleaning.