Spring is a time for renewal, longer days and warmer forecasts. It’s also a time for spring cleaning—to clear out the cobwebs that gather in our homes and in our minds. If one of your goals this season is to get organized, you’re in good company: a recent survey shows that 72 percent of Americans engage in spring cleaning, and removing clutter is the number one reason.
Whether it’s a desk covered with papers, a closet stuffed with clothes and shoes, or an email inbox you’ll never see the bottom of, clutter has a nasty way of keeping us stuck, distracted, and stressed. What’s in your space reflects what’s in your head—which is why clearing it out can have such a positive impact on your energy, outlook, and stress levels. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Clear your mind
Disorganized thinking is at the root of most clutter. Try this to help: Imagine that all your clutter has suddenly disappeared. What negative or stressful thoughts come up? Do you feel uncertain without all your stuff around you? Are you worried that you’ll need something you can’t think of right now, but when you do need it, you’ll miss it? These counterproductive thoughts keep us from throwing anything away.
Tune into the particular fears and worries that you have about your clutter. Now, ask yourself, are these thoughts really true? If not, replace each with a positive thought or affirmation. For example, “Just because I love my things, it doesn’t mean I need them. Being overwhelmed by clutter is not who I want to be.”
Read how the antidote is clutter isn’t an organizational system—but joy is.
2. Tackle one pile at a time
Once you’ve given yourself some space from negative thoughts about clutter, it’s time to deal with the clutter itself. But it’s unrealistic to try and do the whole house in one go. Instead, set a timer and go to one area of your home that always collects clutter. Give yourself 20 minutes and keep yourself moving the whole time—sorting the stuff into Store, Toss, and Donate piles. Don’t stop until the timer rings.
Read more on decluttering your brain.
3. Zero in on your bag or briefcase
A heavy bag or briefcase is not only a sign that you’re hauling around way more than you need—you’re also putting unnecessary strain on your neck, shoulders, and back.
To clear out the junk, find a clean spot on the table or floor and dump everything out of your bag, briefcase, or purse. Anything that you don’t use everyday goes into a separate pile. Put the daily items back in your bag, and then put the bag away. Nothing else is going in there! Of the pile left, throw away useless items and file receipts and business cards.
Your body and mind will feel the difference in the clutter-free spaces. But remember, lightness and clarity truly comes from getting your mental house in order. When you are clear about your thoughts and beliefs around clutter, you can enjoy feeling lighter and brighter all year long.