As crucial as inner reflection can be, the truth is that sometimes getting your life in order starts as an outside job. With spring cleaning fads currently running culturally rampant, it’s becoming abundantly clear that organizing and implementing a dose of “out with the old” is quickly climbing the ranks of therapeutic modes du jour. Now, we don’t all have the time (or patience) to completely upset every drawer in our homes like some extreme organizers out there—and I, for one, personally spent nine hours holding every item in my home and deciding whether or not it did, indeed, spark joy, before I realized there was a much simpler, much quicker way to get a bit more organized. We’ve boiled it down to a list of four top tips for you to take home—literally—and start to get a bit more organized:
1. You are what you see: Have you ever wondered why you allow certain items to be on display? For instance, does that soap dish really need to be out 24/7? This challenge is simple. Take a visual scan of everything you have on display in your home, room by room. Whatever you can see without opening drawers or moving furniture is fair game. Now, looking at each item, ask yourself, “Is there a reason that this item is on display?” If the reason is anything other than “I like the way it looks,” either tuck it out of sight (see aforementioned soap dish) or donate it. The trick here is to get in the habit of being cognizant about how you visually organize your space, and get out of the habit of having things you don’t love on display simply because that’s where they’ve always been.
2. Coat check: Imagine your home is a shop. If someone comes to you and asks where the coats are, would you have three different places to direct them? Cleaning supplies in four different cabinets? Shoes in the hallway and in the bedrooms? Treat your home like a well-designed store, and have only one spot for each category of “things” in the home (better still, know the “inventory” of what you actually have in those categories). Ah…we feel it getting simpler already…
3. Junk the drawer: You don’t have to throw the whole junk drawer away—you are human, after all—but it’s probably time to go through it and decide whether you actually need everything you have in there (replacement buttons for coats long-since donated to Good Will? The charger to your first flipphone?). Maybe you lose the two spare measuring tapes but keep the unused birthday candles and annoying-but-necessary business receipts. Whatever the contents, let’s eliminate the “junk” factor, and instead make this drawer a space of purpose in your home.
4. Supermarket sweep: We get it—things pile up, and your pantry often takes the brunt of this oversight. Maybe you tried the Whole 30 diet eight months ago and bought four pounds of coconut flour. Maybe you then renounced all diets and bought three boxes of Oreos (because I’m an adult and buy what I want when I want). Whatever the random items in your pantry—and whatever reasons for their presence—it’s time to dig in and delete the past. Use the "four week trick": toss or donate each item that you haven’t eaten in the last four weeks (or, if you’d like a second chance at being more conscious, start now and give yourself four weeks from when you take stock of the pantry’s contents). Once you see how much is going to waste, you'll think twice about buying those gluten-free beet snacks in bulk.
Bonus: Once you've completed the previous steps, fews things will freshen up your newly organized space than a vase of fresh flowers or a new plant. With places like Trader Joe’s and Harmon’s selling bouquets and potted beauties on the cheap, there’s really no excuse to not have your home as green as you like—and nothing says “just spring-cleaned” like bringing a bit of the outside in.