It might be early, but Spring is upon us! And along with Spring comes some extra time over Spring Break to do lots of fun things, but maybe you can take advantage of this time and energy and start your Spring cleaning a little early. Build work life balance with your family by including them on this Spring cleaning adventure and learning how to clear out the clutter and where to start first.
Don’t make this venture into clutter free spring cleaning alone. If you have kids, have them clean out a closet or choose some toys to donate. If they are older, have them work through bathroom cabinet to get rid of any old shampoos, soaps or bath toys. Monitor this experience with them to make sure that there are no mishaps!
Research says that decluttering or removing unnecessary things from your home or office is not a new concept, but it does have its health benefits, especially your mental health! For example, if your dishes are clean and properly stored, you’re more likely to eat at home and enjoy cooking. On a deeper level, a clutter-free space also contributes to your well-being because you will subconsciously feel like you are providing yourself with a higher level of self-care. Read: Feeling Overwhelmed? make a list.
“The point is, you need to distinguish between what honestly moves you and what the world is telling you should melt your heart. If something doesn’t reach you on a personal level, let it go. It’s hard enough dealing with everything that does.”
― Judi Culbertson, The Clutter Cure: Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space, & Creating the Home of Your Dreams
Removing clutter is also physically healthier for you because it removes dust particles and toxins from the air, all of which can improve allergy symptoms and overall wellness. Decluttering may also help you feel better about yourself because it’s something of an accomplishment, says Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist based in New York City. “The clutter leads to anxiety, embarrassment, family stresses – some kind of despair,” London says. “When you relieve the problem and learn to throw things away, you feel better.”
The secret to clearing out some clutter in your life (and doing it well) is to think logically of where to start and do it methodically in one session. If you start, don’t finish and leave, you are more than likely to not go back and finish! So how do you get started?
Build your work life balance and start with choosing ten simple things that you throw away this week. Don’t overwhelm yourself, start with one thing at a time as it will take a little time and energy to get through each item. Try reading: Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve
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Clear the Clutter: Ten simple things to throw away this week
With so much online access, you may not have as many magazines as you used to…or you never threw them away in the first place. Start by organizing the magazines into piles such as ‘display’ or ‘use’ or ‘trash’. Choose 2 to display on a table–look at the dates and see if they are from at least the past year. If you have magazine articles that you want to use, such as recipes, either cut them out and put them in a single binder or simply take a picture of it on your cell phone and organize in a folder on your desktop.
Whether it’s large or small, the pantry can become a catch-all for all kinds of things and often cans and other pantry goods get pushed to the back when new purchases are made. Spend time going from shelf to shelf and throw away anything expired. The next step is to organize what you have left. Purchase cheap containers from the Dollar Store and organize them from baking goods, snacks, tupperwear, paper-products, chips, cans etc. If you have children, create a snack basket that can be easily reached and filled. Cleaning out the pantry is personally exhausting for me, so dedicate just one day to doing this and then take a break!
Old Receipts and Bills
You may already have a collect-all space for receipts and bills, so that will be a great place to start. Throw away any receipts of items that have passed the return date and keep the ones that are proof of a purchased guarantee. For any papers, bills, receipts that you do need, invest in a document scanner and save them on your computer so you can throw away that paper! Here is one of my favorite digital bill scanners.
Electronics & Old Appliances
With so many upgrades and cheaper electronics available, it’s easy to keep older electronics because despite the upgrades, they still work. Start decluttering your electronics and old appliances by sweeping through your house and garage and organize by either ‘working’ or ‘trash’. Look for old cameras, computer monitors, iPods, tablets, sewing machines or even microwaves or refrigerators. Call some local organizations and see if they have a need for the things that still work or simply throw them out if they are broken.
*Most electronics/appliances cannot be put in regular garbage, so please make sure that you check with your community on how to properly dispose of old electronics or appliances.
Old Clothing & Shoes
This is a great thing to do annually. Start with your own closet and bag up any clothes that you haven’t worn in year or simply don’t fit. If it’s a seasonal item, box them up and store them away for when you need it. Also, consider going through your shoes and bags, if you haven’t used them in more than 2 years, bag them up. Double check that your items don’t have holes, marks or tears, those you can simply through away. Check with any local women’s organizations that would like to donation before you take them to a donation center.
I am the worst at this! I have boxes of old make up, make up samples, hair products, beauty products under my sink and in my drawers and I still use the same 8 products! Nothing good can come from old or expired products on your skin or hair…and did I even mention eye/lip products? Just think of the accumulating bacteria over time. Consider the following date guides for how long you should keep your make up products:
- face powders (blush, eyeshadow, powder) 2 years
- liquid foundations 12-18 months
- lipstick 12 months
- lip gloss/stains 18 months
- mascara 3 months
- liquid or gel eyeliner 3 months
- pencil eyeliner 2 years
Like most women, I have an eclectic selection of jewelry from fine, costume and fun dating back to college (remember that pooka shell necklace trend?!). This might seem hard to do, but take an inventory of your costume and fun jewelry and determine what you should keep or what to toss. Often times, costume jewelry can react from skin oils and after sitting for a long time, it may have started to tarnish or smell a little funky. So go through what you have, starting with throwing away anything that is broken or unrepairable, then move into what you actually want to keep that is in great condition of what is left.
If you are anything like me, we have multiple medicine cabinets and drawers throughout our house, so to accomplish this task, start by gathering all of your medicines, vitamins and sunscreen in one location so you see exactly what you have. Organize your medications (and vitamins!) by either ‘discard’ (those that are expired) or ‘keep’. For the products that you decide to keep, organize them in either labeled containers with lids or zip lock bags labeled “Children’s Products”, “Cold & Flu” ,”Stomach” etc. Make sure that you store all of these items in safe place away from accidental exposure.
For those products that have expired and you plan to throw away, make sure that you check with your local community or doctor’s offices for “Discard Medication” programs where you can discard them properly.
Broken Outdoor Decor
The exterior of your home or patio is the first thing that most people see, take a walk around the exterior of your property and take note of any items that might be worn down or broken. Look for old plant pots, hanging decorations, yard signs, old outdoor furniture or benches that might be blackened from rain or pollen. If those items are broken, throw them away! If the simply need cleaning, just spray with some dish soap and water and leave to dry. Nobody needs broken or dirty yard decor and it’s definitely not a good look for your house!
It’s a good job that my laundry room has a door because it is the most cluttered place in my house! Declutter your laundry room by throwing away any products that are expired or you simply don’t use anymore. Make sure that you also look at any cleaning supplies that you might store in there such as old mops, Swiffers, vacuum cleaners or irons/ironing boards. I usually keep a small bag that I put the extra fluff/dander that I pull out of the dryer scoop each time…throw this away and replace bi-weekly! If you don’t have reachable shelves, put a basket on top of your dryer and fill it with all your laundry needs.
Old Holiday Cards/Notes
I love sending and receiving cards for holidays, but I have a pretty bad habit of saving them all…then never reading them again. In my office closet, there are a few boxes filled with Christmas cards, Easter, Birthday, Congratulations etc. With the exception of the cards from my husband, I decided to throw them away once a for all (I recycled!). As you go through this process, if you find words of sentiment that you want to hold on to, take a picture of it and store it digitally. If it’s a ‘change of address’ postcard, add it to your contacts in your phone then throw it out!
I hope you have learned a few ways to build your work life balance by learning how to declutter starting with ten simple areas. Knowing that you have a complete peace of mind at home will only help you better when you are at work. Read: How Do You Balance Work and Home Life? Are there other items that you would add to this list? We will work on building work life balance by throwing things away at work next! Let me know in the comments.
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