3 Tips for Speedy Spring Cleaning

TIme Management Spring CleaningI hate spring cleaning, so when we begin that yearly chore, I want it done fast. Try these three tips to streamline your efforts and get rid of that dust and dirt as efficiently as possible.

1. Tackle Clutter First

It’s really hard to clean your counters and closets when there are piles of junk in the way. Your massive cleaning spree will go much faster if you get rid of the clutter first. Put two large bins in the middle of the room: one for trash and one for donations.

For me, it’s hard to motivate myself to take a trip down to the thrift store to donate one or two items, but if I have a whole car full of stuff, that’s a different story! Have a hard time parting with things? Rather than asking yourself, “Will I ever use this again?” ask yourself, “Is it worth taking up space in my house on the off chance I will need this in 5 years?

2. Pack Your “Toolbox”

Once you begin your cleaning adventure, it’s most efficient to methodically tackle one room at a time. Instead of cleaning all the mirrors in the house, then all the doors, then all the sinks, pack all of your cleaning materials in a cleaning caddy and carry it with you from room to room.  Once you finish a room, close the door and move on to the next. Seeing that one room is done is motivation to start the next one.

3. Start With the Most Noticeable Room

Results inspire us to keep working. Start with the room you use the most so you’ll see the most dramatic and immediate impact from your efforts. For us, that means tackling the kitchen. Once the kitchen is clean, the whole house feels more organized and I feel motivated to keep going. There is nothing worse than spending the whole afternoon cleaning, and then looking around to see  that it didn’t seem to make much difference!

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Why, Hello Motivation!

Have you ever been suddenly motivated to complete a task that isn’t on the top of your priority list for the day? In a perfect world, we’d always be motivated to complete the most pressing task of the moment, but we know that’s hardly ever the case. We are all well-versed in the process of trying to dig up motivation to start a dreaded task, but what happens when we suddenly find that motivation at the wrong time?

My Sudden Motivation

I hate cleaning. I know I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who truly loves the chore, but I feel as though I have a particularly difficult time motivating myself to throw out my useless clutter. You can imagine my shock when I woke up this morning thinking, “I really want to clean out the garage today.”

Here is my problem: cleaning the garage was not terribly high on the priority list. I have a few big projects to wrap up before Thanksgiving weekend and I had a productive day planned to make progress on all of them. As I sat down to work though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should really pounce on my sudden motivation to organize.

Do I choose the more “important” task that I have no problem motivating myself to do, or the less important task that I usually dread?

After careful contemplation, I chose the latter.

The Right Decision

For three hours this afternoon, I sorted, threw away, cleaned, stacked, shredded, etc… I was definitely on a roll. As the third hour came to a close, a sudden feeling of frustration came over me. “I kind of hate this,” I said out loud. As quickly as it had come, my motivation was now gone. It was at that moment I realized I had made the right decision for the day.

Finding an extra hour or two over the next few days to squeeze in a little more work would be easy. Waiting for cleaning motivation to strike again could be endless. With just a few short hours of work, I could now walk into my garage without bumping into things. If I hadn’t been motivated, that could have easily taken the whole day.

Your Turn

Sometimes it’s best to do the task you are most motivated to do. You work most efficiently when you’re motivated and motivation is hard to conjure up. Notice I didn’t say it’s always best to make this decision. If I had a huge deadline coming up tomorrow, my cleaning crusade would have had to wait. Will you choose motivation or importance this week? Can you find a balance?

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Organizing Your Life

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve perfectly planned out your afternoon to finish several pressing tasks. As you sit down to work, you’re feeling extremely proud of your time management skills. Nothing is going to stop you today! Then, you actually try to begin your work and you can’t find that one form, spreadsheet or piece of paper you need to get started. Pretty soon you’re spending your afternoon tearing your desk and filing cabinet apart instead of working.

Time management and organization go hand in hand. If you want to get your work done as efficiently as possible, you have to be able to find it quickly. That’s not to say that in order to be organized you must maintain a perfectly manicured filing system. Everyone’s system will look different and the most important thing is that it works for you.

This year, I started teaching at 3 different schools during the week and I quickly discovered that my old system of organization was no longer going to work. It was difficult to predict which piece of paper I’d need at which school. I’d find myself wasting an afternoon at one school because I’d left my work at the previous school. I decided the only way to combat this problem was to have a mobile filing cabinet. I bought a rolling cart and put three large files in it- one for each school.  Whenever I received an important piece of paper, I’d put it in the rolling cart. I periodically clean out the files and put them in my desk at their corresponding school. My poor rolling cart ended up being a little cluttered, but this system works for me and I rarely have trouble finding what I need.

When creating your own system of organization, remember:

1) Not every scrap of paper is important

Often, the papers that cause clutter are not the important ones, they are the ones you’ve already used and don’t need anymore. Frequently go through your papers and throw out things you don’t need.

2) Alphabetical filing cabinets aren’t everything

If you can’t force yourself to maintain a filing cabinet, then don’t use one as your primary system of organization. Instead, use bins, trays, notebooks, or whatever else works for you. Filing cabinets that aren’t used properly can become the worst black holes for lost things. If that isn’t your style, use something else.

3) Keep things close that you use frequently

If you use something everyday, there is no sense in keeping it in a notebook on the other side of the room. I keep my most-used contact sheets pinned to my wall by my phone.   Save yourself time by keeping the things you use most frequently in a place that is easily accessible.

4) Get organized in your down time

Your system of organization is most important during your busy times, but it needs to be in place before then. It’s too late to build a life boat when the ship is already sinking. Use a less-stressful time to re-vamp your organization so you’ll be prepared when your hectic time hits.

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