Spring Cleaning

The cold  weather is finally gone, Easter is around the corner, and trees that lost their leaves are starting to leaf out again, so you know what that means… Spring is finally here!  Although winters in the Rio Grande Valley are very mild compared to much of the rest of the country, it seems like it lasted longer than usual this year.  Spring is a time to get up and get moving again, especially with the extended daylight hours in the evening.  Nature is getting a fresh start, and you can too by cleaning out your house and office, and organizing and simplifying your life.  Living and working in a clean and organized environment can have greater benefits than you might think- it can lead to a less stressful life and help you get things done more quickly and efficiently.

For all you could ever need to know on how to clean your house beyond the vacuum-and-dust basics, check out Martha Stewart’s Spring Cleaning Checklist.  The first page is a checklist of beyond-the-basics cleaning like regrouting kitchen and bathroom tile, and the next two pages are a room-by-room spring cleaning checklist, including tips on cleaning your patio.  You have to be ready for those summer barbecues!

For tips on organizing your office, whether it be a home or business place office, check out this Forbes magazine article.  The article suggest to start by organizing your office into zones- work zone, storage zone, research zone, etc.- so that everything doesn’t pile up on your desk.  It also advises that the only things you should keep within arm reach on your desktop are things you use very frequently- your computer, a phone, a couple of pens, a family photo, and that’s it.  Everything else should be inside the desk or in storage.  And although we use less paper now than we used to, it also advises to create a paper filing system using boxes or folders and label them as “To Do,” “To File,” “To Read,” etc.  It also advises to set limits on how much stuff you are going to keep.  For example, you could set a limit of one drawer for files.  Once that drawer is full, clean it out and shred whatever you no longer need.  Most people have a “catch all” drawer in their desk where they throw stuff to get it out of the way, but this drawer can quickly become extremely messy and impossible to find things in.  The article advises using drawer dividers to give everything a place, and make it a point to clear it out periodically.  As for keeping the desk area clean, not just organized, the article advises using disinfecting wipes once a week.  And finally, keep your computer organized as well.  Clear out old files or move them to an archive folder on an external hard drive or USB drive, depending on how much storage you need.

Finally, the one spring cleaning project that is usually at the top of people’s minds is cleaning that closet.  The one that is overflowing with old clothes you haven’t worn in ten years.  The first thing to do is take everything out and organize it into four piles- keep, donate, throw away, or store somewhere else.  If you haven’t worn an item of clothing in the past year but it is still in good condition, put it in the donate pile so that it can go to somebody who needs it and will use it.  Put anything that is in bad condition- torn, permanently stained, etc.- in the throw away pile.  Resale stores do not want anything that is torn or dirty.  That should leave only the items that you have actually worn in the past year- they should be in the keep pile and the store somewhere else pile.  Here in the Rio Grande Valley, at this time of year, you can put your jackets and sweaters in the store somewhere else pile.  For example, a box under the bed.  This should leave only the items that you see yourself wearing in the current season.  The next step is to install some sort of storage system in your closet, if you don’t have one already.  You need at least one rod to hang things and some shelves and drawers.  Stores like Home Depot sell systems that you can install yourself.  When you are putting items back in the closet, put the things that you use most often in the most easily accessible spots.  And finally, don’t just leave the other piles sitting there!  Buy an under-the-bed storage box for the store somewhere else pile, if you don’t already have something that would work.  Actually throw away the items in the throw away pile, and take the donation pile to any of the numerous resale shops we have here in McAllen.  For example, the Salvation Army and Goodwill Store both take clothing donations.

Happy Spring Cleaning!  You’ll be amazed at how much less stressed out you are when it’s done.

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