I have always been a big fan of making use of seasonal events to trigger good seasonal behaviors that sometimes get forgotten in our busy lives. For example, even if you hate it, Valentine’s Day does remind us to take an extra moment to appreciate the ones we love, and Mother’s Day reminds us to pay a little more attention to the wonderful women who gave birth to us.

Although it’s not actually a holiday, I’ve also always used the arrival of spring as a time to gently remind my clients — and would-be clients — to not only declutter their homes but also to rethink the behaviors that caused it in the first place.

Why We Spring Clean

The idea of spring cleaning is far from new. According to historians, ancient Jews meticulously cleaned their houses right before Passover, while early Christians traditionally made a clean sweep of things in between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

The desire to scrub our homes within an inch of their lives as soon as the weather warms up also reflects more practical concerns. When homes were heated with coal, lit by oil lamps, and sealed shut against cold winter winds, spring marked the chance to open doors and windows, air everything out, and wash a house of months worth of built-up smoke and soot.

And the tradition of spring cleaning is still alive and well. 72% of Americans still participate in some form of spring cleaning, and research indicates that these annual fits of cleanliness have a nice, positive effect. That effect can be doubled, or better, if you add in spring decluttering as well.

Decluttering and Mental Health

clutter and stress

Our physical surroundings have a huge impact on how we feel, especially for women. In one study, women who said their homes were cluttered or messy had flatter diurnal slopes of cortisol, which is a sign of depression and poor ability to deal with stress. These women also displayed greater increases in depressed mood throughout the day, greater fatigue in the evening, and experienced a more difficult transition from work to home.

The state of our homes may disproportionately affect women, but we all feel the effects of a cluttered home; it limits the ability our brains have to process information and takes a big toll on our mental and physical health. In other words, spring cleaning and decluttering don’t just make our homes look good; they make us feel good.

Spring is therefore a great time to organize your possessions; to think about tackling that overflowing garage or the crammed basement storage rooms, sorting through those out of season clothes in your closet and generally cutting the clutter in your home.

Why Buying Less is More

Before you run out and buy yourself eighteen new storage boxes, rethink what you’re storing and why. Too little storage isn’t the problem; too much stuff is! Instead of thinking about where to put your twelve winter hats or your four big comforters, consider why you have them in the first place.

The fact is that in 21st-century America, very few of our purchases have anything to do with what we need. We buy most things based on how we think they will make us feel. Advertisers push the idea that a new pair of shoes, new lipstick, or a new gadget will make us feel better, and we eagerly buy into it.

We continue buying things to make us feel good for a minute, a day, or maybe a little longer, but the overwhelming accumulation of these items in our homes is precisely what ends up making us feel stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed. Then, after a winter spent cooped up with all of our stuff and all of our negative feelings about it, we try to fix the situation by purchasing more things to contain and organize the first batch of things.

This spring, listen to the research rather than the advertisers. Declutter your house, sell or donate what you don’t need, and, most importantly, rethink future purchases. Be conscious of why you shop and what feelings you are trying to create or distract yourself from by buying. Think of it as spring cleaning for the mind, body, and soul.

Practical Tips to Get You Started

While the decluttering journey can seem intimidating, here are some practical ways to begin:

Start Small: Choose a single drawer or shelf. Don’t attempt to tackle your entire home at once.

The ‘Keep, Donate, Trash’ System: Sort items into these three categories. Be honest with yourself about what you truly use and love.
The 20/20 Rule: If you can replace an item for under $20 in less than 20 minutes, it may be time to let it go.

Enlist Professional Help: If you feel overwhelmed, consider working with a professional organizer like Just Organized by Taya. We provide the guidance, support, and systems to help you declutter effectively and create a sustainable organizational plan.

Because I know all of this is easy to say and I understand how hard it is to get started, I want to help in a more practical way. Just Organized by Taya can help you organize whatever needs to be organized—no job is too large or daunting for us—doing much of the difficult decluttering, advising on things like new storage systems and organizational plans, and then ensuring they are not only implemented the right way but that you are left with an actionable plan that will help you stay organized after we leave. To get the process started, book an appointment here

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