NOTE FROM SUSAN:I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of cleaning! I do it, of course, because I don’t want to live in a pig sty, but I grumble all the way! So, I love to get ideas on how to make this job less unpleasant. Karen Eschebach, Professional Organizer and co-founder of Clever Container, recently sent me these timely tips on the best ways to get and stay organized during this season of spring cleaning. From creative clustering to kid-friendly time savers, this former stay-at-home mom turned dynamic entrepreneur spills her savvy secrets on getting your house in order … once and for all!
1. Out with the cold, in with the hues! It’s time to clean out our closets and get ready for spring and summer. Get yourself into a mindset that you are setting up a boutique just for you. The clothes in your closet should be the clothes you wear and love. They also should be the clothes that fit you. If you’re hanging clothes that are too large or too small, box them up for now and see where you are size-wise next year. If the clothes are still too large or too small, don’t peek inside the boxes. Just donate them and take the tax write-off. Try putting outfits together and taking digital pictures of them. Make sure you include accessories such as jewelry, shoes, purses, belts and scarves. Print off the digital photos; hole-punch each one and slide an “o-ring” through them. Hang the “o-ring” from a hook or hanger, and you’ll always have ideas on how to get out of the house quickly and stylishly.
2. Go vertical! Many people forget to use wall, closet, and door space. We’re so used to binning everything that sometimes it makes sense to just hang it up. For instance, hang up pegs and hooks for coats, backpacks, totes, leashes, and purses. If used in a family room, these same hooks could hang your lightweight blankets your family cozies up to; in the bathroom, your everyday towels. Also, using vertical storage in any closet, whether hanging from a hanger or attached to a wall, will keep things nice and tidy and out of sight.
3. In the kitchen, do some clever clustering. Cluster all the tools necessary to make lunches each day or cluster all the accessories required to do baking, such as bowels, mixers, measuring cups and baking soda. This will save you time by not having to walk across the kitchen or open up numerous cabinets and drawers.
4. Set a timer while decluttering and do not accept any interruptions during this time. Let the phone go to voicemail, don’t answer the email that just came in, and avoid all distractions that don’t pertain to your decluttering effort.
5. Organizing a room full of stuff can be overwhelming, to say the least. Break the job down into smaller pieces. I prefer to work in a clockwise manner. I enter the door and immediately break the room down into twelve sections representing one o’clock through 12 o’clock. I begin by organizing and cleaning just the 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock space. If I can’t move forward that day, I keep the area I already organized neat and tidy, and I know exactly where I need to begin the next time I’m able to conquer this task.
6. Not only do we put away our winter clothes, but our coats, hats and mittens need to be stored as well. First off, make sure everything is washed or dry-cleaned so you are ready for next year. Sort through your coat closet and see if there is anything you can donate. I store all my hats, mittens and scarves in a clear, plastic 3-drawer container. Each person has their own drawer for this purpose. I either keep the drawer in the bottom of the coat closet or I store it in the basement. Coats can stay in the closet if there is room. Consider storing the coats in hanging storage bags to keep them fresh and out of the way. The quickest tip to making your coat closet appear organized is to have all the same hangers, not a hodge-podge.
7. Our automobiles could also benefit from a nice spring clean. Begin by gathering everything that is trash. Next, remove all the items that don’t belong in the car and put them away. Wipe everything down on the inside of the car and vacuum the interior. Last, put everything back in the car that belongs there. There are so many wonderful products to help keep your car organized, such as a cargo tote, a hanging office organizer, or media storage.
8. Spring is also tax time. Decide which bills you want to keep on hand for historical purposes and box them up by year. Most credit card companies will send you an end-of-year statement, which means you can shred each of the individual statements you have on hand. Many of your bank statements are also consolidated. If your cable, home phone, and internet bill are the same each month, then there is no need to hold onto your statements. Only keep the changes, such as increases, so that you have bargaining power when you go to make changes. Purge as much as possible, but be careful to shred anything with personal information on it.
9. Books, magazines and catalogs tend to gather heavily during the holidays. For those of you who do not go through and purge them regularly, now is the time. For books that you’ve read but you’re not going to re-read, consider logging them onto to www.bookcrossing.com . It is a website dedicated to logging your book and leaving it in a public place for someone else to pick it up, read it, and journal online about it. It’s a great way to track where your books have been. Magazines should be purged monthly or as a new issue comes in. If you haven’t read April’s issue, odds are you probably won’t get to January’s. Same goes for catalogs. Many catalogs are outdated within two weeks. If you have a computer, you’ll find more styles online, as well as the opportunity for better pricing and potentially free shipping.
10. Spring is also time to spruce up the garage. Store away all the snow shovels, sleds, and snowmen kits. Do quick bike checks, making sure the tires have air and they are ready to go. Take inventory of the fertilizer, plant food, and tools that you have on hand for the spring/summer planting season. Utilize www.craigslist.com and www.freecycle.com for all the items you are ready to let go of.
Thanks to Karen of Clever Container for these terrific tips. What are your ideas for tackling spring cleaning?
DISCLOSURE: No compensation was provided to post this information.