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This Spring, Cut Through the Clutter and Make a Fresh Start

By Sarah Ellis, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at UF/IFAS Citrus County

Reviewed by Randall Cantrell, PhD, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida

The other night I heard my first Chuck-wills-widow calling, a sure sign that spring is finally here! When spring arrives, it always encourages me to do some spring cleaning and get my home in order. Most of us have pretty hectic lives, and things can quickly get out of hand if you’re not paying attention!

A Place for Everything, and Everything In Its Place

The thought of getting organized can cause many people to feel overwhelmed because they have no idea where to start! Ultimately, we need to identify what the problem is before we can focus on solving it. Is there actually a place to put everything in your home? Is that place easily accessible? Do you have too much stuff?

If you do have too many things, it might be time to take inventory and get rid of excess items. To maintain a safe home, there really should be a place for every item owned to be stored. Further, each item should be stored where it is most often needed and easily accessed.

Sorting Your Items

Next, ask yourself if your storage areas are filled with items you use often or plan to soon use again. It is most efficient only to keep items that are practical, in good working order, or that have sentimental value that a photograph cannot replace. But these items need to be maintained in a manageable and organized fashion.

Make a Plan

Planning your organization strategy is your next step. List each room in your home, what activities occur there, what supplies are needed, and what storage is needed. For example:

Room: Living Room
Activity Supplies Storage needs
Watching TV TV TV cabinet
remotes
Playing video games Controllers Storage cabinet
games
Reading Books Book shelf
Magazines

Use this type of  list to help determine if you have the storage you need or if you need to purchase more storage. For instance, you may have a TV cabinet, but if there is no storage for video games or controllers, you need to figure out where they are going to be stored. Remember to store frequently used items where they can be easily accessed.

Get In There!

Once you have a plan, it’s time to start getting organized! Tackle one room at a time. Have five large containers, such as laundry baskets or boxes, at the ready. Designate one container for garbage, one for recycling, one for donations, one for a future yard sale, and one for items you are keeping but need to store. As you are sorting items, ask yourself:

  • How long has it been since I last used this?
  • Do I like this?
  • Is it broken?
  • Do I have several of these? How many do I need?
  • If I keep this, what can I get rid of to make room for it?

These questions will help you determine what you may want to toss, donate, or recycle.

It’s okay to start small, tackling one problem area at a time; just be consistent. If you start working on the hall closet, don’t move on to another area until that area is completely clean and organized. Remember, you can’t put things away until they have a home; if they do not have a home, you are just creating more clutter.

Know Your Goals

One final word of advice. Getting organized and decluttering is great, but sometimes we get bogged down or don’t follow through. Before you start on a lot of big projects, make sure you know what your goals are. Your motivation might be as simple as not wanting to hunt for your keys before leaving for work, or needing to get rid of clutter. But if you don’t feel a true need to get organized, then you probably won’t finish the job or maintain a storage system. Once you identify what you want to achieve through organization, use it for motivation to help you achieve your goal of having an organized home.

Happy spring cleaning!

Photo Credits: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock