Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 2: the Rubber Hits the Road

by Michael on March 23, 2010 · 2 comments

If this looks like your bedroom...I'll give you five minutes to leave. (Photo by jinkazamah)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

Yesterday we assembled the equipment we need to start our clean sweep. Today it’s time to get to work. And remember, while you’re working, no sports talk radio or cable news channels. Might I suggest putting on Pandora?

Your Home: Clean Your Bedroom

There is an important reason to clean the bedroom first: a tidy bedroom is more restful. Since one of our goals is to be more relaxed and well-rested, it’s only logical to tackle the bedroom first.

Is just thinking about this task making you want to crawl under the covers? Relax. You’ll have the next four days to finish off this first room. A good way to handle a very dirty or cluttered room is to start at the door and work your way around the room.

Grab your various cleaning fluids and tools and get busy:

  1. Take everything you can see that isn’t supposed to be in the bedroom out of the bedroom. This includes trash, dishes, pharmaceuticals, and anything else you don’t have a place for in this room.
  2. Start cleaning the piece of furniture closest to the door. Remove any loose items from its surfaces, put them in the middle of the room and then clean the object. If it’s a container (in this case, a dresser, bookshelf, nightstand, etc.) empty it into the center of the room and clean the drawers or shelves. Then move on to the next object. Repeat with every piece of furniture along that wall.
  3. After you’ve emptied and cleaned one side of the room, it’s time to move the furniture away from the wall and clean the wall. Clean doors, windows, light switches, thermostats, framed pictures or art – everything that’s even a little dusty or grimy. Leave your closet alone for now.
  4. Vacuum or mop that side of the room, then move the furniture back.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the room, except the middle (and probably your bed) is clean.
  6. Now it’s time for sorting. Make three piles:
    • Items you use.
    • Items you might use or have purely sentimental attachment to.
    • Items you want to get rid of.
  7. Take the items from Pile 1 and put them where they should be. Clean them if necessary.
  8. Sort the items in Pile 2. Pull an item out, then determine, here and now, whether you actually need it. If you do, put it where it should be (hint: if it really doesn’t have anywhere it should be, you probably don’t need it). If you don’t need it, put it in Pile 3. Be ruthless. Things can be replaced.
  9. Put Pile 3 into a box or garbage bag. Put the box or bag somewhere for storage – we’ll deal with it later on.
  10. After your piles are gone, clean your bed and launder everything on it that can be laundered.
  11. Vacuum or mop the rest of the room, including under the bed. If you have to move the bed, do it. If you have to remove the mattress and tip the bed up on one side against a wall, do it.

Done. (Except for the closet—we’ll get to that tomorrow.)

Your World: Determine What You Want in Life

Do you know where you’re going? Your purpose? Your life’s work? If you do, do you know how you’re going to get there?

This is an ongoing exercise: all you need is some blank paper, a pen and some quiet time alone. You’re going to think about what you want to do, who you want to be, what matters most to you, and where you want to go. Write down every single idea you have. Think, write, and think some more. Walk away or sleep on it then come back to it.

When you find something that moves you, get a new sheet of paper, write it out at the top, and start planning the steps you’ll take to achieve it.

How long should this take? As long as it takes.

If you already know what you want and the steps to get there, congratulations. You’re ahead of the game and can use the extra time for more cleaning. But are you really sure you know?

Yourself: Throw Away the Past

One of the critical moments in decluttering your life is the moment you can let go of something you’ve held on to for a long time. It might be an old toy you had as a child, a memento of your favorite sports team, maybe a love letter from an ex, or that miter saw you just know you’re going to use when you finally work up the energy to remodel the bathroom.

We all hang on to things for one or more reasons:

  • “Sentimental value.”
  • “It may come in handy.”
  • “It might be worth something someday.”

Between those three categories, the most insidious is “sentimental value.” Some people keep incredible amounts of stuff, simply because throwing it out seems wrong, like throwing away the past. This is different from, say, your mother’s wedding ring, which also both may come in handy and might be worth something. We’re talking about a collection of love letters from your teens. Hundreds (or thousands) of old sports tickets or baseball cards. CDs you never play. Old computers that can only run programs on floppy disks. That sort of thing. (I either have had or still have almost all of the above.)

Well, you’re in the year 2011 now. These things serve you no purpose in the present, and unless you’re a writer planning to do a book on those love letters, they won’t do much for your future. (Your future wife is probably going to make you throw them out anyway.) If you don’t use something, it’s time to consider getting rid of it.

The task for today is to find one thing with no practical value and little or no market value, but which you’ve kept only because you can’t bear to throw it out.

Then throw it out.

Don’t put it in a waste bin in your home, though. Throw it into a dumpster or trash bin where you won’t be tempted or able to fish it out tomorrow. If it’s paper, burn it. (Burning old letters or documents makes a great ritual.) If it’s otherwise recyclable, recycle it. If it has value, donate it. Just make sure it’s gone for good.

You might be surprised how freeing that feels, and how much easier it will be to rid yourself of the rest of the past that might be holding back your future.

Enough for today. See you back here tomorrow.

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2 comments… read them below or add one

INGRID THOMAS-MILLER June 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

my favorites work is to clean office and home but i dont have a car of my own i willing to work with some one


Michael July 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Don’t worry, Ingrid, if you don’t have a car you don’t have to clean someone else’s. 🙂

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