Spring. It’s synonymous with blooming flowers, warm weather, and a return to our favorite outdoor activities. It’s also synonymous with cleaning. Spring cleaning is a tradition that dates way back; back even before tv screens were flooded with colorful ads hawking self-running vacuum cleaners and convenient wet wipes for “tackling life’s everyday messes.”
While many of us dread the idea of dealing with the big cleaning projects we’ve brushed aside for months, there are some simple ways to make the process less overwhelming. We sat down with a leading NYC organizer to get some tips on how to approach spring cleaning and organizing and remain zen doing it!
Leah Fisch has been in the organizing business for over 12 years now and is the founder of Joumor.com, a site dedicated to teaching others how to de-clutter, both emotionally and physically, to improve productivity and tap into one’s potential for joy and humour (hence the name). In addition to working with clients and appearing on shows like TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive, she teaches courses that help people build strong organizational skills for life.
Bracha New York: What are some common problem areas for the clients you work with when it comes to getting organized?
Leah: There are a couple main areas of trouble for people, both tangible and intangible. For starters, paper is a big one. People often resist setting up systems to deal with it, like getting file cabinets. Everyone wants to go paperless, but there’s a certain level of acceptance about the actual reality of doing so.
The second is, over-archingly, an issue of storage. People typically think their problem is clothes-- they have too many-- when in reality, they just haven’t designed their storage properly. Whether its an issue of drawers being too deep, having too much furniture or the size of the furniture being too big or too small, not having the right type of storage can really hold you back.
And finally, from a philosophical standpoint, one major issue I often see is self-judgment and a harsh view about the changes they need to make. People have this concept that if something isn’t working, they should get rid of it, but that’s completely wrong. Don’t get rid of it, deal with it, but be gentle on yourself. It’s been proven that productivity is increased by taking the gentlest approach.
Bracha New York: Can you share with us a few of your favorite tips for getting started on a big cleaning project?
Leah: Of course!
Tip #1 - The most important aspect to starting a cleaning project is preparation. Make a clear space outside of the space you are getting ready to organize. Use this space for sorting and removing things off the area you’re trying to clean.
Tip #2 - Choose an area smaller than you think you should clean because there is more to do in that space and more decision making involved than you may think. My advice is always to work on small things at a time to create a sustainable infrastructure.
Tip #3- Set a timer. Before getting started on a cleaning task, set a timer for anything less than 10 minutes. I usually recommend 5-9 minutes. It’s amazing to see what you can actually get done in less than 10 minutes!
Tip #4 - As for help! Ask help from someone who doesn’t offer advice. Prepare them by saying, “I don’t want any advice, I just need someone to sit with me.”
Tip #5 - Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for the mess before you even begin your project. Having a negative perspective will just make the task harder.
Got any amazing spring cleaning and organizing tips you live by? Share them in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of House Cleaner Singapore.