Last Sunday, we turned our clocks forward, signifying the onset of spring. The days get longer and the weather warmer. And if you have an irresistible urge to clean your home, you’re not alone. The idea that we clear our homes of clutter and dirt in the springtime originated in ancient Persia, Egypt and Japan, and it is largely rooted in the celebration of a new year (different calendar), a new era and a fresh start. Today, we tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle during the winter as technology helps us spend more time at home, hunkering down, bringing the world to us so we don’t have to go out for socializing and entertainment. In the process of our winter hibernation, clutter tends to accumulate. The effects of clutter are not merely aesthetic and more significant than you might, at first, think. Jean Chatzky, the great financial journalist, articulates it well:
“Every minute you spend looking through clutter, wondering where you put this or that, being unable to focus because you’re not organized costs you: time you could have spent with family or friends, time you could have been productive around the house, time you could have been making money.”
A necessary and therapeutic part of a proper spring cleaning is the willingness to “let go.” We allow stuff to accumulate when we’re too lazy to toss things out or put them in their place on a regular basis. Putting away or discarding means a closing off of that possibility. In exchange, we get mental space and energetic bandwidth to focus on those things we deem a priority.
And it’s not just our homes that benefit from a spring clean. A systematic decluttering is best when it includes our diet and relationships, too. Here are a few tips:
Spring Clean Your Diet
Cleansing has become a popular phenomenon. One way to approach our physical spring cleaning is to do a proper cleanse. There are many options to choose from and many companies that offer pre-packaged programs for your convenience. If a full-on cleanse doesn’t resonate with you, consider cleaning up one aspect of your diet. Taking one week without carbs or one month without alcohol can be a powerful way to open up space in your body and allow it to rest and regenerate. Take a good, honest look at your diet. You know what your indulgences are. You know what you would benefit to letting go of. Whether it’s fast food, soda, candy or coffee, use the concept of a spring cleaning to letting go of that crutch. See what disappears along with it… perhaps sluggishness, insomnia, guilt…see where I’m going with this?
Spring Clean Your Relationships
Relationships are complicated—with friends, partners, children, family and colleagues. Some relationships are full-on toxic and some simply need some tending to. Seldom are they easy and maintenance-free. Complexity is just the nature of relating.
The visionary author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, very astutely says, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
Our unwillingness to rock the boat or endure the discomfort of confrontation often means we let resentment, disappointment, pain or anger build in our connection with others. The clearing of unresolved feelings is what it means to declutter a relationship. Take an inventory of your relationships and ask yourself the following questions. Depending on the answers, get to work on having some uncomfortable conversations.
- What do I need to express?
- What do I want to understand?
- How have my boundaries been violated?
- Where can I soften?
- In what ways does this relationship need to be redesigned?
- What am I willing to let go of?
- Am I wanting to heal this relationship or do I need to complete it?
Spring Clean Your Home
In taking on a traditional spring cleaning project, consider it these three categories:
- Sorting—Categorize everything as Toss, Donate, or Keep. There are many tricks to figuring out whether or not keep something. Some people say if it hasn’t been worn or used in the last year, let it go. For me it’s not always that simple. The sorting process often requires a few passes. But in the end, I know what I need, want and what is asking to be purged.
- Organizing—Find a place for everything you own. Redesign your storage space, take a trip to the Container Store or Target, rearrange furniture, do whatever it takes to establish a neat and tidy baseline to return to each time you straighten up. Set yourself up to be able to live efficiently and intentionally. Creating an environment in which you know where things are and you can move about easily will be reflected in your frame of mind. Our moods are influenced by our environment. A peaceful home bring a peaceful mind.
- Cleaning—There is nothing complicated about this one. Either go to the store and invest in a fresh set of cleaning supplies or treat yourself to a visit from a professional cleaning service. Whatever your preference, just dig in and get it done!