Inside the mind of a professional organizer: Spring cleaning and decluttering

Don’t let your the clutter in your spaces deter you from getting started on your spring clean.

Don’t let your the clutter in your spaces deter you from getting started on your spring clean.

Don’t let your the clutter in your spaces deter you from getting started on your spring clean.

Don’t let your the clutter in your spaces deter you from getting started on your spring clean.

Don’t let your the clutter in your spaces deter you from getting started on your spring clean.

Welcome to spring.

March was a prime example that seasons change and not always as expected. Comparable to life, our circumstances and our need for stuff also change.

The tradition of spring cleaning is in effect. Garage sales are scheduled, kids are rediscovering seasonal activity items or requesting new things to keep them occupied indoors and out.

Is spring cleaning on your to-do list? Have you begun the dreaded task of cleaning out a specific space?

If you are planning to or already have started the process, you are decluttering — the activity of removing things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.

One of my favorite phrases is, “out with the old, in with the new.”

Our physical and mental spaces impact our life more than many acknowledge.

Our space contributes to our emotions and productivity, as well as our attitude. So, why do we avoid the practice of decluttering on a regular basis?

When it comes to cleaning, a decluttered area can minimize the challenge of moving things from one place to another, allowing us to wipe surfaces and clean the floor with ease.

How does one begin decluttering?

To declutter, start with a small space, but begin by removing big items.

An easy place to tackle is the garage (or your biggest storage area).

Take into consideration bikes. If you have kids, remove bikes the kids have outgrown. Sell, donate or give to an age-appropriate friend.

Consider adult bikes, too. Are you riding your bike? Do you have multiple bikes?

Ask yourself your useful intentions of having a bike(s) other than to store.

I recently spoke with a friend, older than me. He and his wife are an active couple and enjoy biking. But the wife also had surgery. A simple solution to prevent the now typical occurrence of loosing balance and biffing it — purchase a three-wheel bike to accommodate her needs. The two-wheel bike is no longer used.

The same approach goes toward other space-robbing items, such as clothing, shoes, outdoor accessories, games, activities, furniture, outdated electronics, etc.

If you spend one day removing large items, you will experience a transformation beyond belief.

Once you’ve revealed your lost pockets of floor, walls and shelving, grab a broom, vacuum or shop vac and clean up stagnant debris, cobwebs and whatever else has taken over.

As you remove items, load your vehicle, trailer, dumpster or contact a local charity to relocate items from your property, immediately. Don’t fall into the trap of dancing around unused stuff in a different location on your property.

Also, don’t force your stuff on someone else. If you offer up something, interested people will come a-knocking to take items off your hands.

If they don’t uphold their commitment to pick up quickly, refer to Plan B and donate elsewhere. It’s not your responsibility to store stuff for other people.

The next challenging space for most are closets.

Start with what we wear. Our bodies change and our apparel choices need to reflect this. Even if your size remains the same throughout life, our activities, taste, comfort and flair will most likely vary.

80/20 is a very logical decluttering approach to our clothing and shoes.

80% of us consistently wear 20% of our clothes for 80% of the time, regardless of the amount of clothing we possess. I agree and regularly downsize an article of clothing here and there. In fact, I have a donation bag on my top shelf that I typically remove every month or so. Once an item is in the bag, I do not re-evaluate what I’m donating.

Make up your mind, say your peace, if needed, and part ways.

This May, challenge yourself to declutter. Start small, but start big with the two areas I’ve covered. You’ll enjoy rediscovering space, your home will thank you and your functionality will improve.

Jessi Bushman is a professional organizer, member of the Iowa Professional Organizers Association and owner of Organizer Jessi in Dubuque. Visit her at

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