Spring Cleaning? Try “Spring Clearing” Instead!


Do you ever get to this time of year and start to have these nagging thoughts, “It’s time to dig in and do a big Spring cleaning…”?

Maybe when you were a kid, you were recruited for horrible tasks like scrubbing baseboards, cleaning behind the toilet, or scraping the crud out of the oven.

Except for an extremely small number of strange people who actually love this sort of thing, most of us would rather do almost anything else.

But there’s this problem of a house that feels funky after living in it all winter. The plain fact is that something needs to happen here.

A creativity teacher recently made this suggestion and I think it applies:

Take anything in your life that feels like a mess—something you don’t want to think about or have been procrastinating. Step back from it.

Your adult mind has been trained to see things as tasks. You are responsible and you get things done. You have learned to do the things you don’t like. But you still have a kid inside who gets rebellious when you have too many things that feel like hard work. This rebellious inner child is an expert at ignoring things, making excuses, and finding ways to get out of work.

So step back and ask, “How can I make this feel good? How can I turn this into play?”

When you do that, you’ll find yourself getting things done so quickly and easily that seemed like more of the same old drudgery.

I like that, don’t you?

So how does this apply to getting the house back in shape?

I have noticed that stepping back from the close focus on details and getting a bigger picture view can help. Rather than seeing every dust bunny and grubby baseboard—and feeling cranky or overwhelmed—do a 10 Minute Blitz Round with a notepad. Start at the front door and just take a snapshot with your eyes. Keep walking. Mental snapshot.

What are the big things that stick out? What needs to go? What needs to be moved? Put those on the list.

Do this throughout the main living spaces of the house first. Maybe leave the teenager’s bedroom alone for now.

Our minds are funny about this. When we focus on just a few big chunks (vs. the absolute mountain of death-by-a-thousand-cuts tasks), the brain goes into gear and comes up with simple plans for getting the job done.

“Oh, I need to put that couch on Craigslist,” or “That pile of old clothes and deck furniture just needs to go to Salvation Army—maybe I can call and they’ll come pick it up!”

Furthermore, when we take one single significant action, the brain rewards us with satisfaction and “happy chemicals.” In other words, we feel better and like we are accomplishing things. We want more of that.

After a couple of the big things are handled, and your home is feeling a bit more clear, one expert says, “Turn on music, set the timer for an hour, and see how many of the smaller tasks you can handle in sixty minutes. Do a few shorter installments of work and then take a break. Make a game out of it.”

Suddenly the inner kid knows that it’s not an endless future of drudgery, and can dig in to help your adult self get the job done with a sense of play and satisfaction.

Content provided by Velma