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  • gretchenrubin 09:00:37 on 2019/04/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , spring cleaning, tidiness   

    Need Some Easy Steps to Start to Tackle Spring Cleaning? Try These Simple Tips. 


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    We often hear about "spring cleaning," and I have to say, I really understand why it's a tradition.

    For me, when the days become longer, the temperature becomes warmer, and all of nature is being renewed, I get the urge to sweep through my home and office and get rid of the junk. Everything outside my personal space feels so fresh, I want to re-create that feeling indoors.

    This impulse reminds me of a quotation I love, from Jules Renard:

    “Oh! Old rubbish! Old letters, old clothes, old objects that one does not want to throw away. How well nature has understood that, every year, she must change her leaves, her flowers, her fruit and her vegetables, and make manure out of the mementos of her year!” - Jules Renard, Journal

    However, it's easy to feel the urge to do spring-cleaning, but it's a lot tougher actually to begin.

    In the United States, spring is here, and if you want to create outer order as part of the new season, consider these manageable steps:

    1. Focus on one area.

    Some people get overwhelmed if they imagine spring-cleaning their entire surroundings. If that's your issue, focus on just one area.  Tackle clothes, or papers, or books, or toys. Often, once we start, it's easier to keep going—and even if you create outer order in just one area, that's a gain in any event. And while you're at it...

    2. Fix whatever is bugging you the most.

    Some experts argue that we should all start to clear clutter in a specific area, such as clothes. I disagree. I think we should fix the biggest nuisance.

    Most of us have many areas of clutter, but one particular area causes the most irritation. For me, it's the pile that accumulates in a corner of our bedroom. For someone else, it's the kitchen counter; for someone else, the front hallway.

    On the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, my sister Elizabeth sometimes calls me a "happiness bully" because if I see an opportunity for someone to become happier, I can get pretty insistent. As part of this aspect of my personality, I recently convinced my friend Michael to let me help him create more outer order in his apartment. For him, the biggest problem was the top of a long chest of drawers in his bedroom. A massive pile had accumulated there, and although the rest of the room was in good order, that mess made the whole room feel chaotic. Fixing that area gave a disproportionate boost.

    In the office, it's often a window sill. Gosh, we love to jam stuff onto our window sills! The benefit of clearing a window sill is that not only does it create more order, it even creates more light, because the window isn't blocked up.

    3. Resist the urge to "get organized" by buying set of containers, matching jars, hangers, files, binders, or other supplies.

    Often we buy stuff that allows us to jam more clutter into place. Instead, use my favorite test with all your possessions: Ask "Do I need it? Use it? Love it?" If you don't need it, use, or love it, you should relinquish it. And when you've eliminated everything that you don't need, use, or love, you probably don't need to "organize" much. You can just put things away.

    It can be very fun to buy organizing items—they're so enticing! They make it seem like we could organize every aspect of our lives. Remember, it's harder to use these things than to buy them. Best case scenario is that you don't need any special gizmos at all.

    4. Make it fun to get the job done.

    How can you make this process more fun? Might you listen to a podcast, listen to your favorite music, invite a friend to keep you company, set yourself challenges like "I'm going get this entire closet cleared out in 45 minutes!"

    5. If the idea of doing "spring cleaning" doesn't appeal to you, because you don't want to dedicate an afternoon or weekend to clearing, try very small steps.

    Follow the one-minute rule.

    Observe Power Hour.

    Go shelf by shelf.

    My new book (can't resist mentioning that it's a New York Times bestseller) Outer Order, Inner Calm has more than 150 ideas for creating outer order. But these will get you started!

    A strange, almost paradoxical thing happens when we clear clutter: when we get rid of things we don't need, don't use, and don't love, we often feel like we end up with more. It's very common for people to remove two giant bags of clothes from  their closet, and then exclaim, "Now I feel like I have so much more to wear!"

    The process of creating outer order makes us more engaged with the things we keep, and so our lives feel more abundant, even though we've removed a layer of stuff. This is another reason that spring cleaning makes our surroundings feel more energized and vibrant.

    What are some of your favorite tips for spring cleaning?

     
  • feedwordpress 09:00:26 on 2018/03/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , spring cleaning,   

    Do You Undertake “Spring Cleaning?” 


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    March 20 is the first day of spring. We’ve all heard the phrase "spring cleaning," but I wonder how many people actually do it. I sure don’t — but I think it’s an intriguing idea.

    I’m a big fan for using dates as milestones, as prompts for self-reflection or for action. People say Mother’s Day is a Hallmark-driven, consumerist holiday – but still, it’s nice to remember to call your mother. Ditto with Valentine’s Day – it may be annoying to feel like you’re being pushed to buy, decorate, and celebrate – but still, it’s nice to take a moment to celebrate the people you love. Making New Year’s resolutions on January 1st may be arbitrary, but the discussion around that date helps us remember to think, "How might I make the new year better than last year?"

    And the first day of spring and the idea of "spring cleaning" can act as a catalyst for cleaning and clearing.

    The challenge of clearing clutter is one of my favorite sub-topics within the larger subject of happiness. For some reason, I find it utterly absorbing. It’s interesting – researchers aren’t very interested in exploring the connection between happiness and clutter, but in popular culture, it’s a huge subject of discussion.

    I’ve found that for most people – and certainly for me – outer order contributes to inner calm. We’d all agree that in the context of a happy life, something like a crowded closet or an overflowing in-basket is a trivial issue, yet most people find that when they clear clutter, they feel happier, more energetic, and more creative.

    Do you find that getting control of the stuff in your life -- making your bed, hanging up your coat, clearing off your desk, cleaning out the fridge -- makes you feel more in control of your life, generally? It may be an illusion, but it’s a helpful illusion.

    In Better Than Before, my book about habit change, I write about the "Strategy of First Steps." At least in my part of the world, spring feels like the right time to begin to tackle clutter-clearing, because as nature becomes renewed, fresh, and energized, we want our homes, offices, and cars to feel recharged as well. The outer world is bursting with growth, and it’s a good time to create more space for our own growth in our surroundings.

    "Oh! Old rubbish! Old letters, old clothes, old objects that one does not want to throw away. How well nature has understood that, every year, she must change her leaves, her flowers, her fruit and her vegetables, and make manure out of the mementoes of her year!" –The Journal of Jules Renard (a wonderful book by the way)

    For a while now, just for fun, I’ve been working on a short book called Outer Order, Inner Calm – and I’m excited to announce that it’s coming out March 2019. Just in time for spring-cleaning. If you want to hear more about the book, its publication date, get bonus tips, and so on, sign up for my monthly newsletter.

    If you’d like to read more about creating outer order, these posts provide tips, ideas, and strategies for clutter-busting.

    Of course, there’s no bad time to clear clutter. Once you’re ready to begin, now is always the best time. But when we need a reminder, the first day of spring is as good as any.

    Do you plan to do any spring cleaning? Of what?

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:59 on 2017/04/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , spring cleaning   

    Like Me, Do You Get the Urge to Do Spring Cleaning? Here Are Some Areas I Plan to Tackle. 


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    One of my great realizations about happiness (and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists) is that for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should. After all, in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet is trivial. And yet over and over, people tell me, and I certainly find this, myself, that creating order gives a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity.

    So I’m a big believer in the value of clutter-clearing.

    Also, I’m a big believer in using outer milestones as a catalyst for action or change. Whether that’s New Year’s day, September (the other new year), my birthday, or a holiday, I think it’s helpful to be reminded that I might want to make changes in my life. (Yes, Questioners, I know you think that January 1 is an arbitrary date. Noted.)

    So spring, for me, is a reminder to think about spring clutter-clearing. I’m not inspired to do deep cleaning like window-washing, carpet-cleaning, or anything like that. Spring reminds me to tackle nagging clutter build-ups.

    I look for places where I tend to stick things and forget about them. Do you have this problem? For me, I’m looking at these areas:

    My Spring Cleaning areas to tackle:

    Closet shelves

    Are any items jammed in? Can I see the clothes that are stored there, at a glance? Are piles teetering precariously? Can I easily reach the things I want? Is there plenty of room to put things away? I need to tackle the shelf in our main coat closet.

    Dump zones

    Where do I tend to “collect and neglect?” It’s time to dig out those piles and make decisions about where things should have a permanent home. Or if they don’t deserve a permanent home, where will they go? Speaking of which…

    Thrift-store pile

    I need to make a few trips to the thrift store to drop off the books, clothes, and other things we’ve collected to give away. They’re still clutter until they’re out of the apartment.

    Bedside drawer

    I recently thought I’d lost my passport, and  I was in an utter panic until I realized what had happened. We keep our passports in the drawer of my husband’s bedside table (not sure why, but that’s what we do), and his drawer was so jammed with stuff that my passport had been pushed out the back of the drawer into the space behind it. Fortunately I realized pretty quickly what had happened, and was able to wiggle it out. Time to clear out that drawer — and my bedside table drawer is just as bad.

    File holders

    I have two file holders in my office. In theory, I use them for active files that I need to be able to get my hands on quickly. In practice, I often put materials there when I’m not sure what else to do with them, and then they languish. So I’m going to see what I’ve got there, and figure out a permanent place for those files. If they’re so important that they have to be at my fingertips, why don’t I ever look at them?

    If you’re interested in reading more about spring cleaning and clutter clearing, check out…

     

    The great thing about clutter-clearing — and the thing that surprises me every time — is how energizing and satisfying it is, once completed. A month ago, I tackled my giant messy pile of past-their-prime white t-shirts, and I still get a thrill of pleasure when I see my short, neat stack of acceptable t-shirts.

    Creating outer order can give a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity.

    Click to tweet

    What areas are you planning to tackle for spring cleaning? Any hints about effective strategies for solving — or better, avoiding — clutter?

    The post Like Me, Do You Get the Urge to Do Spring Cleaning? Here Are Some Areas I Plan to Tackle. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:18 on 2016/05/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , spring cleaning, ,   

    Got the Urge to Do Some Spring-Cleaning? Avoid These 5 Classic Mistakes. 


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    Spring Cleaning

    It’s spring! (In my part of the world, at least.) And with spring comes the urge to do some spring-cleaning. The warmer weather and the fresh breezes make me want my home to feel orderly, spacious, and clean.

    So far, I’ve tackled three kitchen cabinets, a closet, and my pile of white t-shirts. It feels great.

    One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command. I write about this connection in Better Than Before, in The Happiness Project, and in Happier at Home. (All New York Times bestsellers, I can’t resist adding).

    This connection fascinates me; in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box is trivial, and yet such things weigh us down more than they should. And clearing clutter is so energizing and cheering!

    I’ve learned the hard way, however, to avoid these classic mistakes during spring-cleaning, or clutter-clearing generally:

    1. Don’t get organized.

    When you’re facing a desk swamped in papers, or a closet bursting with clothes, or counter-tops littered with piles of random objects, don’t say to yourself, “I need to get organized.” No!

    Your first instinct should be to get rid of stuff. If you don’t keep it, you don’t have to organize it. My sister wanted me to help her organize her papers, and after we through away the papers she didn’t need to keep, there was nothing left to organize. Excellent.

    2. Don’t buy fancy storage gizmos.

    Ironically, it’s often the people with the worst clutter problems who have the instinct to run to a store and buy complicated hangers, drawer compartments, etc.  Don’t let yourself buy an item until it’s absolutely clear that it will help you organize objects that are truly necessary—rather than act as a crutch to move clutter around or to jam more clutter into place.

    3. Don’t save things for the hazy future.

    Some things are  worth keeping — but not most things. I was once helping a friend clear her clutter, and when I gently suggested that she might give away that pantsuit that she wore to work eight years earlier, she said, “Oh, but my daughter might want to wear those one day.” Really? I don’t think so. If you get a new dog, you’ll probably want a fresh dog bed, and if you lose a bunch of weight, you’ll probably decide to buy a new pair of jeans.

    4. Don’t “store” things.

    It makes sense to store holiday decorations, seasonal clothes, baby things you intend to use again, and anything else that’s useful for a particular time. But often, when we “store” something, it’s because we know we don’t really need it, or use it, or care about it much, but we just want to get it out of the way. Usually, it’s easier to throw something in the basement, attic, or garage than it is to figure out what to do with it. But in the long run, it’s better not to “store” that stuff but to give it away, recycle it, or toss it right away — without an intervening period in storage.

    5. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

    Things often get messier before they get tidier. If you dump out every drawer in that big chest, you may run out of energy and time before you’re finished sorting through all of it. Take one drawer at a time. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary — and even fun — to spend a whole day or weekend clearing clutter, but often, it’s more realistic to tackle smaller aims.

    Remember, we often over-estimate what we can do in a short time (one afternoon) and under-estimate what we can do over a long period, a little at a time (spending thirty minutes a day clearing clutter, for a month). Keep the process manageable.

    What are your tips for clearing clutter? What mistakes have you made, in the past?

    The post Got the Urge to Do Some Spring-Cleaning? Avoid These 5 Classic Mistakes. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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