5 Ways We Sabotage Spring Cleaning


Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Spring Break is next week for our school district, and I have a long list of Spring Cleaning To-Dos!  My friend, Cari Sweet, with Janes Does, wrote an excellent blog on how we self-sabotage our Spring Cleaning.  Here are the Top 5, and how we can avoid them.

From Cari:

How many years have you vowed to do the Great Spring Clean, only to spend 6 hours on day one going through family photos, find yourself overwhelmed, and give up on the whole venture? I myself did this many years in a row. Then, much like my refusal to participate in New Years Resolutions, I quit attempting to Spring Clean.

Believe it or not, there is a happy middle ground. But it doesn’t look like you may imagine. In my nearly five years as a Professional Organizer, I’ve identified five ways in which we sabotage ourselves in these undertakings:

1. Setting unattainable goals

I’m the Queen of Procrastination. I typically procrastinate for two reasons: the project seems too big, and I’m a perfectionist and I don’t believe I can be perfect at the task at hand. By expecting to declutter/clean the entire house from top to bottom in one weekend, we set ourselves up for failure, and for some of us, that sets us up to procrastinate.

Instead, we should be choosing one or two areas that can be completed in the time we have available (whether that’s an evening, or a whole week). I’m a proponent of not just doing a declutter and clean in the spring, but at every seasonal change; whether that is a season of life, or a season of the year. We utilize different areas of our homes and different things throughout different seasons. Spring is a great time to purge holiday décor, warm weather clothing, and worn-out furnishings that you did not use throughout the winter season when we typically spend more time inside.

Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

2. Working until we burn-out

How many times have you sat down to clean off your desk, and four hours later you are either on Facebook taking a quiz to find out what type of Organizer would best serve you, or you are now in your closet organizing your shoes? When we don’t set ourselves up for success, it is easy to get sidetracked and spin our wheels until we are too tired to complete the task.

Set a time limit. At Jane Does, we have found that 3-hours is an optimal amount of time for an organizing session. Folks’ eyes tend to glaze over at about 2.5 hours and they are no longer able to make quick decisions. We use that last 30 minutes to clean up from the process. You can do the same at home; start with maybe an hour and then give yourself a break, get up and move, have a stretch and a cup of tea (or whatever you prefer) and then sit back down for another session.

Also, to keep yourself from wandering, (you know, when you find a coupon on your desk that is about to expire, so you take it to put in your wallet, then clean your wallet where you find a ticket stub, which you take to put in your sentimental box in your bedroom, where you start to organize your shoes) bring a stack of bags, boxes, or bins that you can organize items that don’t belong. I typically use paper grocery bags. I write the locations on them and don’t get up to deliver items until my time is up.

Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash

3. Expecting our housemates to participate with us

I have a semi-firm rule in my organizing business against working with husbands and wives at the same time. Why? Well, if you ever want to learn how a couple bickers with each other, ask them to purge a cabinet in the garage, or master bathroom, together. Whether your housemate is a romantic partner, family member, or simply a roommate, this rule applies! We all have different ideas on what the value of a single item is, and disagreeing on this can stop the process in its tracks and derail it for good.

Now, I’m not proposing throwing out your partner’s rock collection without getting their input. Instead, I suggest going through an area yourself and setting aside the items that you nominate to be purged and the items that you think could be moved to a better location. Then, allow your housemate the opportunity to give their input. You can definitely communicate *why* you think the item should leave, and I often find that the other party agrees more readily when they are looking at only a small portion of the overall collection (of any kind). You can set a time limit to ensure they do their part. This sounds like “Hey, I went through the paint cabinet and pulled out the colors we no longer have in the house. I’m going to haul them to recycling on Friday. If you wouldn’t mind looking through and putting back any you want to keep.”

4. Getting hung-up on monetary value

If you have ever watched an episode of those television shows where they assist in cleaning up a hoarder’s house, you know they almost all say some version of the same thing: “But that’s worth money!”. Whether we say “I could sell that” or “I paid $x for that” or some other version, we frequently get hung up on the monetary value of an item. But here is the reality: just like a car depreciates the moment you drive it off the dealership lot, your belongings are no longer worth what you paid for them.

I rarely sell anything I, or a client, owns. The time invested into taking photos, posting the item, communicating with potential buyers, and shipping or meeting buyers, costs us more than the item is worth. If you need a reality check on what items are really worth, many donation centers post a Fair Market Value list on their websites. This is the amount that you can expect the IRS to allow as a charitable contribution on your taxes. Last but not least, you have to account for the cost of keeping it: it is taking up valuable space in not only your home, but in your mind. A decluttered space, and the calm it brings, is priceless.

Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

5. Failing to take out the trash

How many times have you put a box of donations in the trunk of your car, drove around with it for weeks, or even months, and then put the box on your garage floor when you needed to put something else in the trunk? At Jane Does we chose to haul away our clients’ donations for this very reason!

Schedule yourself a day and time to haul your donations at the end of your cleaning sessions. Make it a celebration; drop off the donations and meet a friend for a cup of coffee, or go check out a new book from the library to enjoy in your decluttered space (don’t buy one that you’ll have to haul to donation later). Or, here in the Portland-Vancouver Metro (and I’m sure in other areas) there are donation centers that offer curbside pickup for most items.

Seasonal changes are a great time to re-evaluate our homes and belonging. Spring is a time of renewal and beauty.  If we set ourselves up for success in Spring Cleaning, we can refresh our homes and lighten our load.  Not much feels better than a decluttered and newly functional space.

If the prospect of Spring Cleaning still feels overwhelming, give us a call at Jane Does to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, and we will help guide you through the process!

Jane Does has been fitting cars in garages, and facilitating smooth moves, since 2016. They provide Professional Organizing and Moving Assistance to the Portland-Vancouver Metro, starting with a free, no-obligation consultation. 


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