When Spring Cleaning is Spring CLEARING

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Let’s face it, spring cleaning has a lot to do with spring clearing. Some annual rituals are obvious– store the boots and bring out the sandals, bring the lawn furniture out of storage, put the holiday decorations away– but there are some additional practices that will make it easier to stay organized, year-round.

The most effective organizing systems are built on movement. Circulation prevents accumulation. In other words, everything in your home needs to advance in manageable, reliable stages. This is obvious for the dishes that circulate from the cabinet, to the kitchen counter, to the dinner table, to the dishwasher, and back to the cabinet again. However, it is less obvious for other items that tend to accumulate. Here are some examples.

Clothing

As you are storing away your sweaters and winter coats, set aside the ones you haven’t worn all winter. What’s the likelihood of wearing them next winter? Clearly label these now for next fall’s coat drive. While you’re at it, set aside shorts and short sleeve shirts you’re not looking forward to wearing this summer, for donation. This will free up some room in your closet and drawers. Finally, establish a donation depot close to your car, so it is as easy as possible to collect and deliver donate items on a regular basis, not just Spring.

Archives

Few things discourage filing more than an overstuffed filed cabinet. The best time to do something about that is the weekend after April 15th. Taxes are the biggest reason we keep files, so after you have used all the material you need as tax-supporting documents, pull out all of last year’s (and previous) statements and graduate them to archives. You may decide you’re ready to toss much of it, but if you’re not absolutely sure, box them up, label the year, and store them more remotely. Everybody has different comfort levels with how long to keep archives, but whatever it is, set that limit of years and shred the archives that have exceeded that limit. Keep the actual tax returns indefinitely, since they alone don’t take up much space.

Hazardous waste

It’s very easy to put hazardous waste out of one’s mind, but now is the time to deal with it. Hazardous waste disposal days usually only come around once a year and it always seems to be in the spring and summer. Dedicate a shelf in your garage or another child-safe area in your home, for hazardous waste, that you collect throughout the year. Check The Department of Energy & Environment website for for the disposal day in your area and don’t miss your opportunity to get rid of this stuff.

Toys

The winter holidays usually bring an influx of new gifts, which suddenly leaves a lot of unused toys and games, which often overflow to the basement, attic, and garage. Spring is the perfect time to donate these unused toys and games. As with the unused clothes, it makes sense to establish a donation depot near your car, so you don’t waste a second of time, trying to remember if you have anything for the donation center you are passing that day. It’s ready to GO!

When these items in your home get backed up, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed. A grand departure of stuff in the spring feels great, but establishing dedicated exit zones for these items, makes staying organized easier, throughout the year. When there is a plan for circulation, the stuff in your home will transition through stages as reliably as winter transitions to spring.