We shouldn’t let anything get in our way—but we do. Stuff we love, stuff we hate, stuff we ignore and even stuff we forget that we have, it’s incredible how much “stuff” we acquire. After winter’s dark days, Spring is the perfect time to de-clutter your space and to let in the light. Here are some tips on getting started.
Whether you need to de-clutter your desk or your entire house, the task can feel less daunting if you start small. If your kitchen is overflowing, start with just the fridge—you don’t need the mustard that’s been hiding in the corner for three years. Once you’ve conquered that, you’ll feel empowered to start taking on the cabinets and so on until, before you know it, your kitchen will look like a page from a design blog—or at least a whole lot cleaner.
Get on Schedule
If your entire house is out of control, it can be helpful to tackle it little by little on a schedule. Week one could be the kitchen, week two the bathrooms, week three the linen closets, week four clothing and so on. Put it on your calendar and stick to it just like you would any other job. When a task is actually written on the calendar, you are much more likely to actually do it. You can even sweeten the deal by including prizes for yourself—like a new putter once you’ve finished a sports equipment purge.
Focus on the Frivolous
Most people find it easier to get rid of things that have less sentimental value, so that’s a great place to begin. Go through your books, movies, towels, sheets, tchotchkes from Target, kitchen tools, cosmetics and keep only what you actually use. You don’t need the travel guide to Prague from 1998 or your college chemistry book. In some cities, you can recycle old books in your curbside bin, but better yet, donate them to the Goodwill or another local charity. That torn towel, sheet or blanket will be gladly accepted at your local animal shelter—and may make a shelter pet’s night a whole lot more comfortable.
Strength in Numbers
Sometimes it just takes a little extra encouragement—or commiseration—to get the job done. Enlist a friend or three and do this together on the same schedule. It’s a great way to keep each other on track and to have someone to talk to about just how many tees you have scattered around the house.
Tokyo organizing expert Marie Kondo offers some great advice in her books Spark Joy and its predecessor The Life-changing Magic of Tidying-Up. Her core advice, in a nutshell, is to ditch anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Here’s the gist of it: Pick up or touch every single thing you own, one thing at a time. If the item “sparks joy,” keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and send it on to its new life—out of yours. The end goal is create an environment in which you’re surrounded only by things that bring you joy. There’s a process to this, but you’ll have to read her books to learn more.
Fur For the Animals
Fur industry practices and modern perspectives on animal welfare have seen real furs largely fall out of favor in fashion. But what to do with the fur coat your great aunt left you? A charity called Born Free has a solution: “Fur For the Animals.” Your aunt’s fur coat or stole makes a kind of surrogate mom for orphaned and injured animal babies living in rescue centers, who otherwise would be nuzzling up to their mothers to stay comforted and warm. It works.
Visit bornfreeusa.org to learn more.