Time for March Madness, Pi Day – complete with mathematical jokes, pi-reciting competitions, and fresh baked pie, and St Patrick’s Day, when the Chicago River turns green. It’s also when the Vernal Equinox, on March 20th, signals the start of Spring. The sun shines on the equator, giving us a near 50-50 split of day and night. In the mid-Atlantic states, the temperatures can still be frigid enough to get hit with a sudden spring snowstorm, but somehow it just doesn’t matter. It’s as if just the thought of leaving Winter behind for Spring is enough for us to believe it’s warming up already.
A lot of us are so restless for a change that we start our spring cleaning during March. Last year, in one of my March blog posts, I talked about how Spring Fever is Our Friend and how to go about spring cleaning in an orderly fashion:
I’d like to add something this year.
Declutter in degrees.
I’ve helped several clients with spring cleaning after they’ve already started the process, got themselves tied up in knots, and then called in the reinforcements. They usually call me for the same reason: they made a bigger mess than they planned… and it’s because they didn’t declutter first.
My advice is to march through March to a different tune this year. Start out your spring cleaning in a bolder, more structured, empowered way.
- The first step in your mission is to schedule a pick up by a charitable organization for two weeks ahead. The motivating factor to smart decluttering is to know when the stuff you no longer need is going to leave your home. Don’t put it in your car and take it for rides for a couple of weeks only to drag it back into your home when you need the room in your car again. Decide on a pick-up-at-home charitable organization that resonates with you. For reasons very dear to my heart, my favorite is Vietnam Vets. One of my brothers-in-law died from exposure to Agent Orange and another brother-in-law is now undergoing treatment for a blood borne disease due to contact with the same chemicals. Also, Vietnam Vets is reliable and efficient. They find your house and pick up every time. You can schedule right online http://scheduleapickup.com/. Make sure you tape a piece of paper that says “VVA” on top of the pile so they can be sure they’re only picking up what you want to donate. How awesome is that?
- Decide how many bags or boxes you’ll be donating. I always tell my clients to check off the box that says 4-15 bags. It’s propels you into a different cadence. Your journey suddenly becomes a marathon. You know you’re going to want to put out at least 4 bags and hopefully get to 14 or 15. Nailed it!
- Then decide where will you leave your donations? Try to pick a place that is covered. If you can’t, just make sure you have a tarp or old shower curtain liner to put over the pile so that nothing gets wet.
Be intrusive in your own home. Nay, ruthless I say! No matter which room you start in, open every drawer, search every cabinet and closet, look under every piece of furniture and decide what to do with what you find. Literally march if it helps to inspire you. Lift those legs and set a rhythm as you get going.
More than likely, there are items that haven’t been touched since you did your spring cleaning the year before. Last year, you saved them because you were going to need them someday and here you are a year later still staring at the irritating thing in the same place you left it.
How insulting to our own dignity! You didn’t use it. You still don’t need it.
Don’t think anything else other than “I don’t use this. I don’t need this.” Then grab that item and put it straight into your donation box or bag before you have time to talk yourself out of it. If you find that you can’t do this, then follow Mel Robbins’ advice from her book, “The 5 Second Rule”, count to five and if at the end of five seconds you still can’t think of a reason to keep it, into the pile it goes. Be decisive. Don’t hesitate.
Continue on in this fashion throughout your whole house, always staying at an even pace, a good rhythm. Anything that you thought you needed a year ago that is covered in dust from non-use, is still in the same place you left it last year, looks like it’s seen better days, or just seems to scream at you, “Let me outta here,” trash it or donate it so it gets to someone who will need it, use it and appreciate it.
Remember you’re on a mission. No regrets. Keep marching through March!