5 Tips to Help Get Your Space (And Yourself) Out Of Winter Hibernation
By Piotr Golinski
If you know me, I will look for any opportunity to reference The Devil Wears Prada. I also love organization and the feeling after decluttering and cleaning knowing that the dust bunnies behind the fridge are evicted – no free rent here!So how wonderful is it that with spring comes both florals and the pleasure of spring cleaning! Fear not though, if cleaning isn’t your forte, I’ve collected some of my favourite tips to make sure that there will always be a tidy space on your kitchen table for a fresh bouquet of peonies.
Tip #1 Leave A Sponge In The Shower
For some reason the shower is often a neglected space in terms of cleaning. I mean yes, soapy water does splash around while you bath yourself, so it’s almost like it gets cleaned every time you shower, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Hair, oils, soap scum, hard water, bacteria, and humidity all affect the surfaces of your bathroom and shower. One of the easiest ways to clean on the go is to bring one of these soap filled sponge wands into the shower and do a little bit of scrubbing while waiting for your conditioner to set in. Or maybe you have a face mask on and you need to fill the time before washing it off; find whatever moments you’re not using anyways while in the bathroom to conveniently leave it cleaner than when you found it.
Tip #2 Do It NOW
This next tip bleeds from the first one, but I have personally found it to be one the most effective in my personal life. I used to waste entire Saturdays spending the morning to afternoon cleaning and then being too tired to do much else the rest of the day. Knowing that half my weekends have gone to cleaning was the worst feeling, but it needed to get done. I would try to do it after work on the weekdays, but that commitment never lasted longer than a week either. Nowadays I’ve found myself with so much more time when I clean things the moment I see they need to be done. For example, one morning I might notice the toilet bowl could use a scrub and a wipe from the dust around the top of the tank. I could do that right away in less than 5 minutes. The next day I might notice that the floors are dusty, so why not vacuum them then? In this way, I’m keeping up with the cleaning without devoting half a day and it honestly doesn’t seem so terribly bad anymore. Little tasks like this also help time go by while I’m waiting for water to boil or my fries to bake in the oven. Sometimes I even enjoy it and because I know it’s the only thing I’m committing to, I usually end up doing a much more thorough job anyways!
Tip #3 Turn Your “Maybe’s” Into “No’s With A Return Policy”
Not sure how much sense this makes off the bat, but give me a moment to explain. We all know of the three pile rule when decluttering whether it’s clothes, books, memorabilia, etc. Unfortunately, this third liminal category of “maybe” often ends up in the yes pile because the fear of not having it when you need it is more pressing than the desire to get rid of it. Even more often, these things don’t end up ever being needed by you and forgotten all over again. An endless loop of unused items repeatedly moved from one hanger to the next, one pile to another, a textile version of Groundhog Day.
A new habit that works for me is swapping my ‘maybe’ pile (or anything that isn’t an absolute “YES”) into a subcategory of the ‘no’ pile called “No with a return policy” meaning, you can change your mind and take it back given a certain rule you set for yourself. I hide these items in a box in the back of my closet, clearly labelled something along the lines of TBA or “Stuff in Purgatory”. If ever I intentionally want to use any of the items in there, and I remember it exists, then I am permitted to take advantage of my return policy and pull it back out to live among my other often used items on the condition that I do use it. However if after a year, six months (whatever timeline you’re comfortable with) you have not used or even thought of the items in the box – maybe you even forgot what in there to begin with – then you clearly can live without it and can declutter it with more peace of mind. Bonus environmental points if you find a way to resell or rehome them yourself rather than immediately donating or trashing.
Tip #4 Find Your Motivation
In Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and other publications, she expresses the importance of setting your goals and intentions very clearly before starting to move or declutter anything. Imagine what your ideal life would look like not just in terms of aesthetics or amount of things, but what specific things, relationships, scenarios do exist in this ideal imagining. This is your joy and this is what you will use when you decide whether or not something “brings you joy”, meaning, will this thing hinder or help me to get closer to my goals?
If you’re not too focused on your future goals, however, and just want immediate motivation to get through the actual cleaning (not decluttering) of your spaces, then I would also recommend finding motivation through other outside sources. Personally, I enjoy turning on a “Clean With Me” youtube video that ranges anywhere from 20 minutes long to 4 hours. There is a diverse online community of people who find motivation through cleaning with each other virtually as well as some really great tips and tricks to make processes more efficient. Just search up “clean with me” and pick a thumbnail that speaks to you. One of my favourite youtubers to watch for cleaning inspiration is a Aurikatariina, self proclaimed Queen of Clean. Obviously, you can also use your favourite music, a podcast, an audio book or even just a phone call with a friend to help make the cleaning process easier, but the point is, if you don’t like to do it, don’t just in your thoughts stewing about how much you don’t like it!
Here’s food for thought though. On the other side of the coin, cleaning or any kind of monotonous daily chore creates wonderful pockets of opportunities to practise mindfulness and meditation. In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh challenges the reader to do quite the opposite of turning on a podcast or music to distract, but instead to actively consider activities like washing the dishes or brushing your teeth while you are doing those tasks. Meaning pay attention to the task and do not let your mind wander throughout the ever growing to-do list always being built in your mind. As you pick up a mug to clean it after drinking your coffee, simply clean it, notice any stains, wipe them, notice the feeling of the water or the smell of the soap. Immerse yourself in the experience of this one small task and you will soon realize that you are too busy being there doing the thing that you are no longer angry or frustrated with having to do it; there’s just no room for the emotion. I try to do this (whenever I remember) while brushing my teeth by brushing them one by one just getting all around every tooth individually and am always amazed at how fast the two minutes pass. Often, I find myself needing more than just the two minutes to give each tooth it’s own attention too so the result is a more thorough clean!
Tip #5 Assess Your Values
In the end, cleaning is something that should always be maintained, there’s no escaping it unless you want to end up on an episode of Hoarders. Would you ever just skip a shower for a month straight if you had all the resources at your disposal? Most people would say no. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be one to do it, you just have to be responsible for it. Meaning, if you value your time and relaxation more than cleaning, then hire a cleaner if it’s within your budget. Maybe swap chores with a roommate or sibling if you each find there’s a certain task you don’t mind doing as much as the other. I hate washing dishes and my sibling hates drying dishes, but we don’t mind doing the opposite, so we came to an agreement that they would always wash and I would always dry. In both our minds, we had the lesser of two evils. Or maybe this means splurging on that Roomba or that cordless vacuum if it means that you’ll actually use it and vacuum more often. I saved up and bought a cordless vacuum because I realized a major cause of frustration for me was getting all tied up by the cord or running out of cord length. Personally, avoiding this [minor] inconvenience was worth the cost of the vacuum because it meant a better user experience. If you live with others, these types of costs could also be split among everyone and everyone benefits from it!
Hopefully, some or all of these tips can help you get out of hibernation and into the spring of things. I know that cleaning is not always a popular activity, but there’s no reason why the pain of it can’t be minimized or dare I say even enjoyed!
Do you have any other tips or suggestions? Maybe would like to point out something inaccurate or comment on a topic I mentioned? Feel free to reach out anytime!