Independent HOME went in search of some spring cleaning advice from veteran professional organiser, Harriet Marshall.
1 Set aside some time. This depends on the state of your house and can vary drastically from one home to the other. You may find that you need to take a whole week off to do the spring cleaning, or you can set 15 minutes aside every night to do it, drawer by drawer or shelf by shelf. If it feels overwhelming, it is best to set only small amounts of time aside, to give you a boost.
2 Come prepared. Dress comfortably and preferably in older clothing. Have a big black bag for all the rubbish, some rubber gloves (depending which part of the house you are tackling), some pens and scrap pieces of paper, markers. Play some good music as well to get you in the mood.
3 Divide the room up. Use this as a guide to make piles. Have the piles in things to: keep; recycle; give away; put in another room; sell; fix; file; toss away. Whatever room you are working in, stay in that room, do not wander off to put something in another room as you will get distracted.
4 Start with what you can see. Work through what you can see, such as the items that are out and about on shelves, on the floor, on tables. Go through these item by item before you even think of venturing into the hidden spaces of your closet.
5 Ask these questions: Do I need it? Do I use it? Do I love it? If you do not answer yes to at least one of these, get rid of it. Once you find the things you truly love then ask this: Is it in the right place or is there a more appropriate spot for it? If you are not sure, put it in a box for six months. If you never touch it in six months, get rid of it.
6 Buy extra storage. Don’t buy extra storage too soon. I have seen people who buy lovely containers and then end up keeping far too much because they think they need to fill them. Once you see what you want to store, go out and buy appropriate storage for it.
7 Put things in the appropriate places. Things you use once a year, put in garage. For example, if you only camp once a year, that gear should not be in your bed-room. However, your hairdryer, for instance, should be handy and in the right spot. Store like things together.
8 Label well. This is very important so that not only you but everyone in the household knows where things belong. You can lable your shelves, your kitchen containers and also your boxes so that everything has its place and that everything is in its place. At the end of each day spend a few minutes putting things in their places and make this part of a Maintenance Routine.
9 Get a Hot Box. This can be a beautiful basket that can sit in the hallway or the entrance and it is where things you don’t know where to put immediately, get placed. Then make it a game on weekends to empty it and return the items to where they should be. Some people have “Chairs of Shame” but I suggest rather use an item that can have its lid closed so it is not ugly on the eye.
10 Motivate yourself. If you find it difficult to get started, set a reward for yourself, even if it is a chocolate or going to see a movie, or a walk in the forest, so that you know that once you finish a room there is something waiting for you. And for those who just can’t get there themselves, get in the professionals to assist.
Pictures: Harriet Marshall
* Marshall is a productivity coach and professional organiser based in Cape Town but consulting clients throughout the country. She can be contacted on [email protected]