For many people spring cleaning is an annual ritual that they take very seriously. They plan ahead, preparing themselves mentally for the work to be done and anticipating it with a mix of dread and, sometimes, excitement. Invariably, the cleanup begins and leads to amazement at how much can accumulate in a single year and promises to oneself to be more cautious about what to hang onto and what to get rid of. Many New Year’s resolutions are made about being less of a “hoarder”.
Unfortunately, as we all know, many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside before the year is done. Some will do so even before January is over. Feelings of guilt often ensue.
Why is it so difficult to keep our resolutions?
Clearly, people want to make a change, otherwise they wouldn’t put themselves through the grief of making plans and resolutions in the first place. Is it a matter of willpower? Not necessarily. Sometimes those with tremendous amounts of willpower still have difficulty sticking to their plans. It is, rather, the way in which we tend to approach making a change, by biting off much more than we can chew. Big goals and large changes are absolutely possible, but a long journey is made of little steps, not one big leap.
Here are some ideas on how to approach your goals, whether they be related to clearing up the clutter in your home, or something else entirely.
Vague Plans Tend to Fail
There is an expression that says failing to plan is planning to fail. Imagine yourself taking a road trip, when you will be driving for a full day or more to reach your destination. It is not enough to know where you are going if you don’t know how you will get there. Taking such a trip will require that you know how long the trip will take, the route that you will be taking, places to stop along the way to rest, or even where you might spend the night, depending on when you leave. You will likely also want to bring snacks, and perhaps something to entertain any kids that are accompanying you.
As you travel, you will be watching for signs that you are still going the right way. Maybe you are watching for a certain landmark to measure your progress, and you will definitely be watching for any exits that you need to catch before you pass them.
If you drive for hours on end without any indication that you are getting closer to your destination, you might begin to worry that you made a mistake somewhere.
Your clean up is much the same; you need a plan to get where you want to go—in this case, to a cleaner, uncluttered home.
Have a specific plan of attack and know what to prioritize. If one particular area of your home tends to be the spot where junk gathers, that will be your place to start. You may want to determine why that spot tends to attract junk. Maybe there is a laissez-faire attitude in one room, where things never seem to get put away properly. The problem may even be as simple as not having a proper storage place for those things that get left lying about. A little bit of organizing can improve this drastically.
You’ve likely heard “a place for everything and everything in its place” a few times in your life. This is the perfect time to adopt that attitude and work at maintaining it. Once everything has been given a home, it is easier to ensure that it is all put away properly.
Set Your Priorities
Some people tend to tidy up on the spur of the moment, finding a desire to clean and an accompanying burst of energy. While that can be great, it is better for you to make a regular routine and have a plan for what needs to be done first, and what might wait a little bit.
For example, someone is coming to visit, and you know that most of your time will be spent in the living room and dining room. Those rooms and perhaps the washroom will clearly take precedence over, say, the attic or your bedroom.
Have a Schedule and Follow It
In addition to being too vague about their plans, many people tend to be vague about when they will do things. To say, “I need to clean up the basement” may be a decent start, but it doesn’t have the same power or conviction as saying, “I am going to clean up the basement Saturday afternoon at 1:00.”
By setting a time, you are making it a more concrete goal, as well as giving yourself the opportunity to avoid potential distractions. You can plan to do your tidying, sorting, or whatever else you need to do during times when you won’t be as rushed. It can also help to form a routine by doing something regularly, which will increase your chances of sticking with the plan.
“There’s an app for that!”
No, really. There are various apps available that might help you. You can use calendars or a schedule to organize your time better and plan out everything you need to do. As mentioned above, having your work scheduled will help to make it more concrete in your mind, and having reminders set up to ensure you don’t miss your scheduled time can prove highly beneficial.
Once you have completed your cleanup, there are still other apps that can help you. Do you find yourself with a large volume of trash, or items that your municipality does not regularly pick up? You can check for any special pickups that they may have coming up, or you might even prefer to schedule a pickup with a junk removal service, especially if you have large items like appliances that need to go.
Find a Way to Entertain Yourself, and Work Can Be Fun
There are a number of ways that you can make your cleanup more appealing. Maybe you could schedule yourself more time to get it done, allowing for a slower pace and less stress. You might also put on some music or have a movie playing in the background, so long as it doesn’t become distracting.
Perhaps best of all, you could recruit some friends or family to give you a hand. Assistance is always welcome, and it makes the job go faster and smoother. You could make an event of it, and even take turns going from one person’s house to the next, benefiting everyone. It’s no great secret that making something more enjoyable increases the likelihood that you will continue to do it.
A little planning and preparation can go a long way toward ensuring that you keep your resolution and stay on top of the clutter in your home.