Getting the Most out of Spring Cleaning

May 11, 2017 by Jenny Thomson

closet

It’s that time of the year again – the weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, flowers are beginning to bloom – and we’re beginning to notice all of the clutter in our homes.  I don’t know about you, but I know that when my home, garage, shed, or car is cluttered, I feel like my mind is cluttered!  I find myself becoming distracted much more easily and can’t concentrate when the house is a mess.

Spring is a great time to clean out your home and garage in order to prepare for summer barbeques, get-togethers, and longer days spent outdoors.  But it can be a daunting task, especially if it’s a while since the last time you cleaned.  In order to help get the process done as quickly and painlessly as possible, you can follow some of the following tips:

1. Make a List

Not sure where to start?  Try going room to room, and making a list of everything that needs to be done.  Alternatively, create categories and organize your tasks that way.  For example, you could have a list of different things you have to organize versus things you have to clean.  It may also be helpful to include the estimated amount of time it may take to complete each task.  See the example below for ideas:

table

2. Break it Down

Large tasks can seem really intimidating and you may find yourself thinking “I’ll never get that finished”.  Try breaking down a large task, such as organizing the garage, into smaller steps.  This way, instead of worrying about the long-term, daunting task of having a beautifully organized garage, you can instead focus on small tasks one at a time.  For example, you may want to start with one corner of the garage, or begin by organizing your tools and then move onto storage boxes, and from there clean up the kids’ toys.

3. Schedule Your Time

Scheduling in time to do any sort of unpleasant task helps to ensure that we complete the task – we are much more likely, for example, to go to the gym if we schedule it in our calendars than if we do not[1].  Spring cleaning is no different!  Take your list of tasks that you want to complete, and schedule them into your calendar around work, leisure, and family activities in order to help keep yourself accountable and to have a plan.

garage

4. Be Mindful

Spring cleaning can be frustrating, exhausting, and an overall unpleasant experience.  It’s important that we keep in mind all of the reasons you may have to be doing spring cleaning in the first place.  In order to help keep our values at the forefront of our minds, practicing mindfulness can be really helpful.  Mindfulness helps ground you in the present so that you can get back in touch with your values and remind yourself why you’re doing all of this.  Click here for some quick mindfulness practices you can teach yourself.

5. Do What Works for You

All of the above tips can be really helpful for ensuring that your spring cleaning goes smoothly and efficiently.  However, everyone is different, and some of these items may not work well for you.  It is important to plan your spring cleaning in a way that is going to be most beneficial for you.  For example, you may like to get things done all at once, so scheduling your cleaning for a weekend and completing it in two days may be the best way to get it done.  For others, it may make more sense to do a little bit each day, and that’s okay!  Set yourself up for success!

jenny-thomson

[1] See: Coffman, S.J. et al. (2007) Extreme Non-Response in Cognitive Therapy:  Can Behavioural Activation Succeed where Cognitive Therapy Fails?  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Volume 75, No. 4, Pages 531-541 and Dobson, K.S. et al. (2008) Randomized Trial of Behavioural Activation, Cognitive Therapy, and Antidepressant Medicine in the Prevention of Relapse and Recurrence in Major Depression, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Volume 76, No. 3, Pages 468-477.

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