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Spring has finally arrived, and with it, the itch to spring clean. Suddenly, you feel the urge to scrub, wash, and reorganize everything. And no, you’re not imagining it. Seasonal changes can spur this type of inner shift.
“In part, it’s sort of that fresh start, starting over,” Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, says. “The sun comes out, so the vitamin D that we’re feeling energizes us again.” She says the noticeable environmental changes of the season—more sunshine, warmer breezes, blooming flowers—directly tie into how we feel.
What are some of the benefits of spring cleaning?
Spring cleaning is about more than just tidying up. Albers says various scientific studies link living in a cluttered environment to increased feelings of depression. It boils down to the way our minds work. Entering a cluttered environment puts stress on our brain, as it has to work harder to make sense of the physical environment, Albers says. The brain doesn’t have to make as much effort in an uncluttered space.
How can I organize my space?
If you’ve been feeling envious of those color-coordinating pantries (like a certain Kardashian’s), you’re far from the only one. Replicating these photo-worthy organized areas may be easier than you think. In 2020, Kimri Madrid and Brianna Rogers founded The Tidy Citrus, a home organization company, to help clients do just that. These are some of their biggest tips for creating Pinterest-worthy spaces—that are also functional.
- Take everything out. When you start organizing a pantry or a closet, Madrid recommends taking everything out of the space. (Yes, everything.) By doing this, you’ll be able to sort things into piles and take inventory of what you have—and what duplicates you can toss.
- Make sure everything has a home. It may be the smallest, most inconsequential utensil, but if it’s worth having, it needs a designated space. Not only will this help you find it when you need it, it also helps you cut down on accidentally purchasing duplicates in the future—which contributes to even more unwelcome clutter, Madrid says.
- Make sure you can see it. Having things visible is key to maintaining organization. Madrid and Rogers say putting clear bins, smaller baskets, and turntables in your drawers and cabinets can help you achieve this visibility. Label everything.
- Invest in organizational products—but don’t break the bank. If you’re looking to save a bit of cash during your spring cleaning, they recommend heading to a discount store to find affordable organizational products—or even repurposing things you already have in your house, like an empty shoebox.
I’m feeling lost in my work and personal life. Where do I start?
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be restricted to your home. The long, dark months of winter may have left you feeling a little lost or bleak. The spring season offers you the chance to refresh your life—and feel a bit more empowered in doing so. We asked Kierra Asnauskas, a productivity coach, for some of her tips on refreshing your personal and professional life.
- Create a vision board. Goals aren’t just for the new year. The spring season—and spring cleaning—offers a chance to reset your mind and focus. Asnauskas recommends creating monthly vision boards and a larger annual vision board. It doesn’t have to be complicated. She sets her monthly vision “board” as her phone background, so it serves as a daily reminder of her goals for the month.
- Be intentional with your goals. Asnauskas follows the “three P formula” for goal setting: Write them in present tense. Put them in positive language. Add a proactive statement at the end. She says this can make your aspirations more attainable and actionable, rather than distant and lofty.
OK, but what if I’m not feeling motivated to spring clean?
The itch to spring clean may not be with you right now—and that’s perfectly OK. However, if you still want to reap some of the benefits of spring cleaning, these are three psychologist-approved strategies.
- Focus on one area. Albers says focus on a small area where you spend a lot of time. That may be the desk you sit it all day or your kitchen-counter-turned-junk-drawer. Biting off a manageable chunk can help you feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Set a timer. Before you begin cleaning that area, Albers recommends taking a few minutes to do a mindfulness exercise. Remind yourself that you can do this—and that you’re only going to work on it for a set amount of time. (Even five minutes counts.)
- Create a routine. “Routine always simplifies how we look at a task,” Albers says. “Instead of it being an emotional thing, we just do it automatically and don’t really think to ourselves, ‘Do I like it or not?,’ it’s just your routine.” To implement a routine into your spring cleaning, she recommends associating a particular area of your house with a day of the week. For example, on Monday you may tackle your living room, while on Wednesday you’ll focus on the over-flowing closet. By the end of the week, you’ll have worked your way through your entire space.