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Spring Fling; Or Getting Your House Back After Being Shut in For Winter

By Marc Takacs
Oh, the smells of spring! Fresh cut grass, blooming flowers, vinegar, ammonia…what? Well, when the urge to spring clean hits, these are some of the smells that come to mind. Many people still do the spring-cleaning routine, while others clean all year round or hire it out. Usually in the spring some cleaning happens. At some time during the year you want to get rid of that 40 pounds of dust that accumulated (in a 6-room home- according to Asthma for Dummies by William E. Berber). While cleaning, what better time is there to take stock of what you own and clear out some of the clutter? This will open up space for fresh air and ideas to come into your house. Even if you hire out the heavy cleaning, the professionals say that getting rid of excess clutter can eliminate 40% of the housework in an average home.
Visualize the area you want to transform. Do you want some open spaces? Do you want to highlight some artwork? Do you want to see more sunshine? Think about what is bugging you most in the area and what is most essential to you. What is getting in the way of your vision? Look at what you really love about the area you are working on as well.
It’s best to draw up a plan before you begin. Be realistic about how long each item on your list will take. You don’t want your time to run out and have stuff piled all over the place. Allow time when working in each zone to clean up. Divide your living area into zones. Think about what activities you do in each zone. Where do you read? Where do you eat? Where do you clip coupons? Map out the space for each activity. As you clean this area purge anything that does not belong in that activity area. If you are working in your entertainment area- the TV remote and guides need to be stored near the TV, the music area would want the CDs, headphones, remote near the CD player. For the reading area you would want your favorite books, a comfortable chair, a good light, a place for today’s newspaper and the current magazines. You might have a space in that area allotted to board games, knitting supplies, and photo albums. Make certain that each thing in that area or room has an assigned place to stay when it is not being used. As you work, have a box handy to drop in any items you come across that do not belong in that area. Have a large trash bag for things that are no longer of use to anyone. Have another box labeled for all the things you no longer need or love and that can be given away or sold. If you plan on donating items you can go to to find the value of the item.
There are several ways to attack these tasks. You might pick a buddy to work with you. You could work a day at their house and then a day at your house. This is a particularly good way to handle the really difficult jobs or ones that entail items on high shelves that keep you going up and down a ladder. This is also a good way to keep you focused. Some people talk to friends on the phone while doing nasty tasks and encourage their friends to keep them focused by asking questions about what they are doing at the moment. If you are working alone you might put on some music. A consultation and organizational session with a professional organizer (see Time Space Organization – or visit the NAPO website) is also an option. Good books also abound on the subject. Reward yourself for small steps.
When you complete cleaning, de-cluttering, and organizing an area, step back and enjoy it. Now you know where everything belongs and can lay your hands on any item within seconds. Americans waste nine million hours per day searching for misplaced items, according to the American Demographics Society so you know how important it is for you to have taken the time now to save real time later.

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