Spring Cleaning

3 Steps You Need to Take Before You Can Do Your Spring Cleaning

published Mar 27, 2020
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Have you ever noticed that idioms about doing difficult practical things are about animals? One powerful productivity tip tells us to “eat the frog first,” meaning getting the most dreaded task off your plate early. And when you’re faced with a huge, seemingly insurmountable project, you’re supposed to “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Now about that elephant—we all have one coming up in our home lives: That great big project called spring cleaning. The two little words that may sound innocuous enough and may call to mind images of sheer white curtains flowing in with the sunshine through open windows on a warm breeze. But when it comes to actually doing it, the task is so big, we freeze because we don’t even know where to start.

This weekend, we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re going to break up the “spring cleaning” elephant into bite-size pieces.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

This Weekend: Make a plan for spring cleaning.

Making a plan for your personal spring cleaning is just like making a plan for anything else; it’s the momentum that makes the thing take shape, turning it from a nebulous idea into a concrete thing that’s at first doable and then done!

1. Make a spring cleaning list—either by room or by task.

A room-by-room checklist is a good option if you have visible cleaning targets that you just haven’t been able to get to. For instance, you’ve really been wanting to do a master closet clean-out and you want to grasp the opportunity now. To make a complete room-centered spring cleaning list, take a notebook or your phone and make a circuit of your house, space by space. Standing in your living room, you may jot things down like “wash front window curtains, polish wooden desk, clean front window, declutter bookshelf”.

A task-centered list might be a good choice for those who work better chunking similar types of chores together, such as if you’d like to clean every single window in the house or spot clean all the upholstery and rugs. It’s also a good way to finally tackle the home keeping tasks you’ve been putting off, like deep cleaning the oven or scrubbing the grout in the shower.

To take your plan to another level, you can even drill down farther in the list you’ve made. If you’ve jotted down that you’re going to clean out the pantry, for example, add smaller actionable steps, such as “empty shelves, categorize food, cull expired or no longer needed items for donation, clean and dry shelves, decant, label, replace items on shelves”. This may seem like overkill, but it can help remove decision fatigue from the actual project so you can get as much done as possible.

2. Take an inventory of your cleaning supplies.

This part of making a plan involves making sure you’re ready to do the work when the time comes. Keeping in mind the tasks you’ll undertake, make sure you have the necessary tools and products. Fill up any DIY supplies, such as spray bottles of white vinegar and water, order or hack together any tools you may need or supplies that are running low, and take it all a step further by organizing your supplies so you don’t waste any time looking for things when it’s go time.

3. Create a schedule.

Speaking of go time, when will that be for you? Clear out your day or weekend (which is probably far easier this year than any other) and then make a game plan for what spring cleaning chores you’ll tackle when. For instance, you may block out the morning for washing bedding and cleaning mattresses.

Or… just sign up for our Spring Cleaning email program:

If your planning approach is more hands-off or you’re too overwhelmed by other things to put your heart and soul into making cleaning plans, our cleaning editor Taryn Williford is here to help. Sign up for our email program and get your jump-start spring cleaning tasks—as well as tips for how to do them—delivered to your inbox for decision-free planning that will help you get your home spring cleaned.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.