186 Spring Cleaning Part 1: Declutter Your Home and Mind
After years of dedicating myself to mastering the art of spring cleaning, I was surprised to discover how it could positively impact my emotional well-being and ultimately lead me to more Work + Life Harmony.
Little did I know that this ritual of renewal would shape my life in ways I could never have imagined. Tune in as I walk you through my "how-to spring clean" process. Today's episode is part one where I cover spring cleaning your physical things. Part two will cover spring cleaning your calendar.
In this episode, you will be able to:
1. Discover the profound effects that spring cleaning has on mental well-being.
2. Uncover the secrets to effectively tackling high-traffic areas during cleaning sessions.
3. Embrace a more intentional lifestyle by editing and organizing your belongings with purpose.
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00:00:00 Hey there. Welcome to part one of a two-part series that I'm going to be hosting here on the Work + Life Harmony podcast all around spring cleaning. So just quick overview. Today's episode is going to be just some quick tips on spring cleaning, the physical stuff, the stuff we see. And then you're going to want to come back for part two next week where we tackle the spring cleaning of the stuff we don't see, the information, the task list, the things that are constantly swirling around in our head.
00:00:31 And when we do these together, that's where we can start to really get just a real kind of win, a pickup, et cetera, as we are here in this new actual physical season of our year. So let's go ahead and get started here on part one, which is around spring cleaning of the physical stuff.
00:00:56 Welcome to the Work + Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization, and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife, and just like you, I'm juggling #allthethings while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what?
00:01:13 You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning, and organization, to skyrocket your productivity so you can have Work + Life Harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you.
00:01:36 And if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work + Life Harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram @megansumrell with the word Harmony, and my team will send it right over.
00:01:51 Hey, there, welcome back to Work + Life Harmony, I am Megan Sumrell, and today we are going to be kicking off a two-parter. So this week, I want to start the conversation around spring cleaning.
00:02:05 All right? Now, don't worry. I am not going to sit here and tell you all the 8000 things that you should clean, how you should clean, what products to use, or anything like that. I want to kind of take it up a level and give you some more science behind spring cleaning and then some truly easy-to-accomplish tips and tricks to help you with this. Now, the reason why I wanted to go ahead and divide this into two different parts is when it comes to spring cleaning, what most of us think of, and this is what we're going to be talking about today, is a lot of the physical stuff, right when we look around our house or our closets or things like that.
00:02:42 But the way I approach spring cleaning is actually twofold. There is the spring cleaning of the stuff that we see, which is what most of us are used to dealing with. But there is also a really important part of spring cleaning, which is spring cleaning the stuff. We don't see spring cleaning, like kind of more the information, your calendars, your task lists, the stuff that's going on in your brain. So there's a reason why I'm structuring it this way.
00:03:13 In part one today, we're going to be talking about the physical stuff because there are some quick, easy wins here. And then make sure you come back and check out next week's because we're going to be doing part two, which is the spring cleaning of the things that we don't see. All right, so first I want to take a couple of minutes because I thought this was pretty cool when I was doing some research on spring cleaning a while back and understand, where did this even come from? And so a really cool fact about kind of the history behind why there is this spring cleaning, why this is the time that people empty stuff out and go through their stuff. Actually dates back to The Pink Bee on the Prairie type days, where people were heating their homes all winter long with wood-burning fireplaces.
00:04:02 All right? And what would happen over the course of winter is that the homes would build up a layer of soot, ash, and dust from the nonstop wood burning that was going on. So once the temperature changed enough that the homes were no longer needing to be heated by nonstop fire, this was the opportunity then for people to traditionally go and do a deep scrub of their home to get rid of the layers of ash and soot that had built up. So that's just your little fun history fact for the day. Now, why is spring cleaning so important?
00:04:39 And why is it something that I think a lot of us embrace? I know for me, even though I have some good seasonal cleaning practices in place, there's just something about spring where we feel like we're coming out of our cocoon or whatnot we want to get outside. I don't know. I just start feeling like that energy coming back. And that's why for me, it always feels like a good time to take on a little bit more of those in-depth cleaning.
00:05:04 So let's break down a couple of things that I want you to think about when it comes to spring cleaning in your home with the physical things that you can see. Now, I want to start all of this by first discussing the value and what happens to our brain when we look at cleaning from a decluttering perspective. Because when we think about spring cleaning, there's kind of our stuff. There are two parts to it, right? One is the true scrubbing cleaning, like maybe getting in there and scrubbing those baseboards or things like that, that kind of build up over time.
00:05:41 The second part and what a lot of people lean into with spring cleaning is an opportunity to go through stuff and get rid of clutter and kind of reorganize any spaces where maybe there's been a build-up of just stuff. And I will tell you, there is so much science behind the relationship between the build-up and the collection of clutter when it comes to stuff, related 100% to the clutter between our ears and our thoughts and our ability to make rational decisions. So I think that helping people understand that there is a relationship between having a spring cleaning with the physical along with the spring cleaning with the mental, why they can go so well hand in hand. And oftentimes when women come in and join my top program, they're coming because they know that their calendar, their organization of information, the hashtag, all the things that we are juggling feels so out of control, overwhelming and cluttered. And so I meet people there and we start with their calendar.
00:06:58 But then what I always see happen is once the calendar starts getting under control and we start clearing up that overwhelming clutter, I see all these people instantly start looking around at their physical space and going, oh my gosh, I'm ready to tackle that. Now, sometimes people start with the physical, and then once the physical is in place, they're looking at their organization of their life. They're like, oh my gosh, I need to get that better. So sometimes people come to me going, my house is under control, but my life feels crazy because once you start cleaning up one area, it automatically feeds into the natural tendency to go clean up the other. So that's another reason why I was dividing this into the two-parter, because there is this relationship.
00:07:46 So let's talk about just some simple things to think about. When you're looking at spring cleaning, the physical stuff in your home, it is important for you to understand it will likely be very unrealistic for you to tackle your entire home in one weekend or in one spring cleaning session. There is a difference between spring cleaning and tackling home organization for the very first time. Okay, so I'm going to be talking about spring cleaning, not I need to get my entire house organized. Okay, so here are my tips for spring cleaning.
00:08:31 Take a kind of inventory in your home, and I want you to grab a piece of paper and pencil and jot down. Where are your high-traffic or high-touch areas in your home? What are the spaces that are used on the daily by you and or your family members? And or where do you spend a vast majority of your time? Okay?
00:09:02 We want to focus our spring cleaning efforts in those spaces because what we want when we're embarking on a spring cleaning project is to actually use our time and energy on things that are going to give us our biggest reward. Which is why if you have maybe a closet that you look at twice a year, like maybe it's a wrapping paper closet or something, going and spending your energy there, you might put in a ton of great work. But then you're going to walk around to all the places in your home where you spend the vast majority of your time and you're not going to feel any of that satisfaction of a job well done. And when it comes to spring cleaning, again, this is not a project to declutter your entire home. What we want are some quick rinse to kind of revitalize you, reenergize you, et cetera.
00:09:54 So some of the areas when I went through and did this here in our home, the kitchen area, our main family room, my office, and then my closet, like when I look at the four areas that are just high traffic where I spend the vast majority of time, those are there. All right, that's in my list. Now, when there's an entire room, such as the kitchen, we need to, again, make sure we're not biting off more than we can choose. So if you have an entire living space, such as a kitchen, where there is lots of hidden areas for clutter, namely all those cabinets, your pantry, your refrigerator, I would encourage you to break it down and say, are there certain parts of the kitchen that I know could use a good spring clean? So for us, it's the dreaded Tupperware cabinet that no matter how many times I reorganize it, I swear it feels like it's out of control.
00:10:50 Our pantry and a refrigerator. So instead of saying, I'm going to open up every single cabinet in my kitchen, pull everything out, redo it, spring clean it, no, let's get some quick wins for the most high-traffic, low-hanging fruit in your home. So with our kitchen, it was boiled down to those three places. With our family room, there isn't really closets or cabinets, but it's an area where we spend a lot of time. We have a dog who brings a lot of dirt into the house.
00:11:19 So from a spring cleaning in that room, it's more the, hey, let's take all the cushions off the sofa and vacuum in there. Let's pull the furniture away from the wall to really get under it and the baseboards and all that kind of thing, so it can look different from space to space. And then a closet is always where you start your day going into get dressed. They can get out of control if you don't have good systems in place to help keep that under control as well. So once you've got your very specific list of the things that you would like to spend your spring cleaning effort in there, and you may need to help other family members.
00:11:56 So you're going in and looking at my daughter's dresser and closet is on the list as well. Now, the next step is to actually get your plan in place, right? This is why I always say we don't operate from a task list, because a task list is not a plan. So now that I have the list of the areas that I want to make sure I spend time over this month here in the spring, to really do that deeper level of cleaning, now I need to get the plan in place. So for each one of the items on your list, I want you to allocate a specific amount of time that you are willing to spend doing it, all right?
00:12:35 And it will range, right. Like the Tupperware cabinet is one of those things. I know I could just knock it out in ten minutes, right, versus going through maybe the whole pantry clean out might need an hour. If you're helping children with a closet, that might be an hour or two event. So whatever the different spaces are, go ahead and jot down how much time you're willing to spend on it.
00:12:58 Notice I said willing to spend and not how long does it take. Because spring cleaning is one of those things where all of a sudden we can start to lose focus and get out of control, right? We start cleaning in one area, then we notice something else and suddenly we're over there, and now we're in this drawer, and now we're in that cabinet, and now we're in that room. So what we want to do instead is say, how much time am I willing to spend on this one thing? And I'm just going to take it as far, I'm going to do as good of a job as I can in that amount of time.
00:13:27 Now, once we have those time spots in place, now our next step is to actually go look at our calendar and pick specific days for each one of these projects, all right? Now, you may be someone that would rather clear out four or 5 hours on a Saturday and do it all. You might be someone that prefers to just say, you know what? I'm going to do this one. I'm going to clean out the Tupperware cabinet on Tuesday and then maybe on Friday I'm going to spend 1 hour doing spring cleaning in this space.
00:14:01 So you may want to spread it out. You just may want to jump in and do it all at once. There is no wrong way. It's whatever works best for your habits and the realities of your life. All right, now a couple of things to consider when you're doing this.
00:14:18 As you are going through each one of these, ask yourself, does this have to be me? Are there other people that you live with that this load can be spread out across? Everybody. All right, so when I came up with a list of things that we needed to spring clean and put estimates for how much time we're willing to spend on each one. We then are going to sit down as a family and decide who is doing what and when so that we all have a clear understanding of how we're all pitching in to the spring cleaning.
00:14:53 Now, a couple of things that I will also want to make sure that you think about when you're planning this. Always complete one space before starting another. For instance, don't do half of your Tupperware cabinet. Stop and then start going into the pantry because what's likely going to happen is you're going to end up with a bigger mess than what you started with and you're going to have five spaces that are halfway spring-cleaned instead of one space fully done before you're moving on to the next. That is the easiest way to start spiraling out of control with spending more time than what you wanted to and getting pulled in multiple directions.
00:15:38 So as you set forth on your spring cleaning, again, complete one full little area at a time before you start the next one. There's nothing more satisfying than even though I might see I have five more spring cleaning projects to do, but when I open up, let's say the pantry and I see it's all cleaned out and organized, that feels really good. And so this is why, again, we want to focus our efforts on the high-traffic, most-used spaces in our home to tackle for just that kind of in-and-out spring cleaning efforts. Now, if you are doing a spring cleaning effort, that is an effort of stuff and not cleaning right, like I talked about with our family room, that's more of a deep clean. But for something like a pantry as you are cleaning it, this is a great opportunity for you to make sure that everything has a specific location right, instead of just throwing stuff back in.
00:16:39 And I'm not going to do a whole deep dive on how to edit and organize and all of that. I have some other podcasts on that and there are some other real experts in the space. But anytime you are taking a spring cleaning, a closet is another great example. Instead of maybe just rehanging and reorganizing, take the time to go through and actually do some editing, do some thinning, maybe pull some stuff out that you no longer need. Use this as an opportunity to reorganize something in a way that works better for your brain than it currently is.
00:17:10 So here is what I would love for you to come find me over on Instagram and share with me. What is the number one thing on your spring cleaning list? The number one thing on my list is actually my closet. It is one that I do have systems and processes for keeping it organized, but there's a lot of shelves in there and so that's an area that can gather dust that I know will give me a huge win to see that all nicely shining and smelling nice and clean. So that's actually the first thing on my list for our kind of family spring cleaning project.
00:17:46 And if you are brand new to thinking about how we clean, organize and maintain our information, which is what I'm going to be tackling next week, it's actually going to be spring cleaning your calendar and task list next week. If you're brand new to that idea, I would encourage you between now and then to go check out a free training I have. You can go to megansumrell.com/freetraining and sign up because it's going to touch on a couple of fundamental kind of thing to say some foundations on how we think about planning and managing and organizing our time and information that are going to tie really well into our part two here next week when we tackle the spring cleaning. This stuff, we can't see. All right, happy spring cleaning and I will see you back here next week.
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