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The surefire path to refreshing the world around you.


Spring cleaning. For most of us, it’s an annual rite of passage—something we do to refresh our nooks and crannies and greet the season. At its best, the process is invigorating and rewarding. At its worst, it’s overwhelming and becomes impossible. The trick is to keep your eyes on the prize—cleared closets, tidy drawers, and dust-free blinds, rugs, and floors. And make the process fun! Here’s how to cross the finish line with a smile on your face.

Frankly, it’s not easy to get started. Wherever you look, there’s another cluttered drawer or closet that needs to be sorted and organized—and even the drapes and furniture look faded and tired. Why not turn it into a game? Start with your plan. Grab your phone or notepad for notes and assess your space room by room. Create a list of each task you’d like to accomplish in each room and an estimate of how long you think it will take to finish each task. Choose the first room you want to take on and focus only on that room. Gather your cleaning supplies along with several large garbage bags and your phone. You’ll need to use your phone as a timer and to take “before” and “after” pictures. Before you tackle each task, take a “before” picture of the clutter. Set the timer for your guestimate and see if you can beat that time. When you’re done, take an “after” picture of your sparkling results and send both photos to your mom or a friend!


ABOVE AND BELOW: These “before” and “after” photos of a recent project by Professional Organizer Tracy Paye prove there’s a proper place for everything.


The better you understand your clutter, the easier it will be to conquer it. According to Tracy Paye, owner of San Diego-based Miss Organized, it’s important to organize the items you plan to keep. “The goal is to be able to clear away what’s in your way and be able to put the things you keep in places where you can easily find them,” Tracy says. “This will help you feel more in control, increase decision-making speed, reduce your stress, restore function, and make finding your things easier.” Store items as close as possible to where you typically use them and store your most frequently used items where they’re easiest to reach.


Deciding what goes is the toughest part. Letting go is not easy but, again, it’s best to keep your eyes on the prize—clean and orderly drawers, cabinets, and closets. Marie Kondo, the famed Japanese organizing consultant, tells us to focus on what we’re going to keep and only keep the objects that spark joy in our hearts. This is easier to do with some things than others. Often, we’re holding onto items that we don’t really care for but feel sentimentally attached, or obligated to hold on to. Or, we fear that if we toss an object, we will lose the precious memories and legacy they represent. Not so, says this esteemed organizer who recommends that we thank each item that no longer sparks joy and bid it farewell in a respectful manner. Take your items to a donation center or, better yet, a local consignment shop, where they can be discovered by a new owner.


If at any point you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, consider contacting a professional organizer for hands-on help with planning your spring cleaning project. Tracy Paye, one of San Diego’s only certified professional
organizers, helps her clients organize, declutter, and create systems for the future. You can learn more about her services at missorganized.com.


If Clutter Could Talk, The Stories It Would Tell
by Tracy Paye

Organizing from the Inside Out
by Julie Morgenstern

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo