My mom was relentless about spring cleaning. When April vacation rolled around, every corner of our house was turned out, scrubbed, inspected, and returned (unless we rearranged the living room that year). I lived with the hope that woodland creatures would pour into our house and dust the furniture with their tails or help with the laundry.
They never did.
April vacation was probably my least favorite. But as an adult, I appreciate the lesson, and thought I’d share a bit of Kathy’s wisdom about spring cleaning, with the help of Disney.
1. Do I even need this?
As you go through your space, take some time and reassess what you really need. Mom always accused me of being a pack-rat (a.k.a. hoarder, like my girl Ariel). Although I preferred to think of it as possessing powerful gathering instincts, Mom had a point. Useless clutter build up around my room, and if left unchecked, I would have had a collection of “stuff” that put the Little Mermaid’s to shame.
The awesome part about this step is that it can be a preemptive measure. When shopping, I use a little trick my mom taught me. Sometimes, there’s a shirt or dress that I try on, but can’t determine my level of commitment to the purchase. Mom chimes in with “Will you wear it seven times?” This number changes based on a) the item in question and b) how much it costs, but the point is to have some system in place. Sometimes, you have to ask, “Will this thingamabob serve its purpose, or sit in my closet collecting dust?” If you aren’t going to wear it seven times, put it back on the rack. This article from MoneyNing offers other tips for determining what you need in your life (bonus points for saving money).
Technology Takeaway: Are there errant files on your computer? Plugins on your WordPress website you aren’t using? Delete, purge, and enjoy the extra space!
One of the reasons why the annual spring cleaning of my youth seemed so daunting was because most of what we cleaned hadn’t been touched for…about a year. It’s amazing how disgusting an area can become when neglected.
You may have a vague awareness that things are starting to slip, and anxiety about cleaning it accumulates to the point where part of your brain shuts off and you forget the area exists. Or, like the Beast, you’ve constructed this shame-cave of neglect and become a hyper-aggressive jerk to your house-guests.
The good news: It doesn’t have to be this bad! The bad news: Chores. As previously mentioned, you cannot get woodland creatures to clean your house. But, there are great tools online for cleaning, whether you’re tackling some hard to reach places or searching for an app to remind you to do chores. Plus, you can always invest in a Roomba.
Technology Takeaway: Do you have automated backups on your computer? Have you not updated your website software in awhile? Set aside an appointment with yourself quarterly, even if only 30 minutes, to tackle those technology chores before they become unmanageable.
3. Letting Go
Part of the spring cleaning process involves throwing out old belongings. As a child , by this point I developed a strong sentimental attachment to everything, and tried to convince Mom that separation from any object in my room would cause deep emotional scarring. On my laptop, I currently keep hundreds of terrible pictures, homework assignments from high school and college, and old PDF files that I never read in the first place. It’s the same with that shirt I’ve had for six years but never wear…because, that one day I wore it was a really awesome day.
There comes a point, either during spring cleaning or life in general, when you’re faced with letting go of something that you still value. But, a one-legged Barbie doll with a mullet or shoes that have begun disintegrating probably don’t have a place in your life anymore. And that’s okay. If you’re struggling to take that last step, you can always look to Elsa for encouragement.
Technology Takeaway: Did you start that Tumblr blog two years ago and know you will never update it? Look at those aspirational technology tasks you’ve taken up (and things that are no longer a part of who you are) and let them go. Just because you used to have a Myspace account, doesn’t mean you have to ever log in again.
These days, I’m by no means thrilled about spring cleaning. I still need a carrot (or pint of ice cream) dangling in front of me as a motivator, and still harbor some resentment that I can’t whistle and summon woodland creatures to do my chores (thanks for nothing, Bambi). Spring is all about starting fresh, and I suppose that’s as good a reason as any to roll up my sleeves and start cleaning.