Stick the Landing with Your Spring Cleaning

March 16, 2024

We all head into spring with big intentions. Closets to redo, sheds to empty, kitchens to deep clean…the start is always so exciting! But what about when we inevitably lose steam in the middle? What about when random life events—a busy week at work, some emergency maintenance, an unexpected visit from a friend or family member—derail us and leave us in the mess of a half-finished project? In this week’s blog, we’ll go over our top tips to help you stick the landing with your spring cleaning!

Tip #1: Clearly Define Your Working Zones and Goals

A little bit of planning goes a long way, especially when you make a point to fully visualize and understand the scope of your project. Before you pull a single box from the attic or put on any cleaning gloves, sit down and write out your basic goals or project ideas. Then, for each individual goal, break down the areas where you’ll be working and the steps necessary to complete your project.

An example of your worksheet could look like this:

Projects: Declutter garage (so cars can be parked), clean kitchen, redo shed

Project #1, Declutter Garage:

  • Areas: Garage, driveway (for sorting), attic and utility closet (to store backstock keep items), car (to transport trash/donations, to pick up new racks)
  • Steps:
  1. Pull everything into driveway
  2. Sort (need kids to look over outdoor toys)
  3. Measure for new racks for keep items
  4. Pack car with donations and trash
  5. Move long-term storage to attic and utility closet
  6. Transport trash and donations
  7. Pick up new racks
  8. Put away keep items in garage with new racks

Project #2, Clean Kitchen:

  • Areas: …

And so on.

As you can see, identifying your working areas and figuring out a step-by-step process can help you coordinate more proactively. This saves you valuable time and allows you to predict and avoid potential roadblocks. 

Without a plan, you may wake up early one morning and have all your trash and donate out in the driveway, ready to be transported…only to find out that your spouse needs the car and all that junk has to go right back inside! (Or worse, stay outside in the elements.) Planning ahead also ensures you’ll remember to pick a day when your kids are able to go through their toys, remember to pick up your new racks before you start put away, etc.

It’s a lot of moving parts! So don’t count on keeping it all in your brain. Planning out the broad strokes relieves pressure and makes the actual work ten times easier.

Tip #2: Keep Function in Mind

This tip is particularly important when taking on longer, multi-step projects that span over several days. Let’s say you’re deep cleaning your kitchen, but you know you’ll only have thirty-minute chunks over a period of a week to complete the job. Or maybe you’re downsizing in the attic and have mountains of boxes to contend with. These jobs are by no means impossible. Just like with tip #1, a little forethought goes a long way!

Now is a good time to look back at that initial brainstorm and take note of the “areas” involved in your project. Are these areas relatively out of the way? Or are they heavily trafficked and used daily? Between work sessions, can you leave out your supplies and any unfinished sorting, or do you need to tuck things away so the space can be used? Are there any upcoming events or other aspects of your household’s schedule that you need to plan around?

When you keep function in mind beforehand, you avoid a lot of grief and mess when you inevitably need to pause between workdays. Nothing slows down a project more than the discouragement of leaving a mess behind or living in dysfunction. To give yourself a better chance of crossing the finish line, get creative and figure out how you’ll keep your spaces livable as you work.

Tip #3: Know Your Work Habits

In general, people fall into one of two categories: sprinters and joggers. 

Sprinters:

The “sprinters” among us get big bursts of energy and can tear through huge amounts of work in one go. 

  • Pros: Can complete projects quickly.
  • Cons: Have a hard time predicting their bursts of motivation or forcing themselves to work when unmotivated.
Joggers:

The “joggers” among us work best when they tackle work in regularly timed, small, manageable chunks.

  • Pros: Are able to stick to schedules and follow through with multi-step plans.
  • Cons: Take longer to wrap up projects with larger scopes.

Neither working style is inherently superior to the other. Instead, figuring out your natural work style allows you to make plans that build on your strengths! 

For example, let’s say you’re a sprinter. If you take the “thirty-minute-chunks” approach to the kitchen deep clean, you could be sabotaging yourself! You may find it hard to stop work at the end of your scheduled thirty minutes and plow ahead, only to leave the place a half-finished mess. Or maybe you’ll lose steam and find it impossible to start back up on day two, three, etc. when your motivation fades. Instead, it’s a much better idea to wait for a day when you can roll up your sleeves and clean the whole kitchen from start to finish.

If you’re a jogger, those thirty-minute-chunk plans are your sweet spot. Instead, our “garage declutter” example is your danger zone. Taking on all that work in one day may be too much for your energy and motivation level, causing you to lag and leave tasks half-done. To avoid those issues, put a little extra time into your planning phases. Identify the best stopping points between steps in your project and estimate how much time each chunk of work will take. Then, find free gaps in your schedule where you can complete those bite-sized parts of the project.

Tip #4: Bring a Team

Work is always better with friends! We’ve talked at length about the merits of body doubles and teamwork. Extra hands, accountability, and a little bit of fun can turn even the most daunting of tasks into a breeze!

It’s especially important to include family members and housemates when you’re doing work in shared areas. The best way to get people on board (and minimize any grumbling) is to frame the work not as a chore, but as a way of giving everyone a say in the look and use of your spaces. When people feel included and have a sense of agency, they are much more likely to follow through and help maintain the systems you put in place.

Kids can be particularly difficult to wrangle, but don’t despair! Finding the right approach can make the whole project a blast for everyone. “Gamify” the experience by turning tasks into races, mini contests, and other fun activities. When decluttering the garage: “Who can fill a trash bag the fastest?” When cleaning the yard: “Who can throw branches over the fence the farthest?” Sometimes even competitive adults can get swept up in the fun!

Tip #5: Plan Benchmarks and Rewards

Even the most industrious joggers have a hard time mustering up motivation sometimes. To ensure you actually follow through with all the steps in your meticulous project plan, find ways to reward yourself! A small shopping spree, a relaxing night with your favorite TV show, a trip to a restaurant—whatever the reward, make sure it’s something you’ll look forward to!

For best results, don’t come up with these treats on the spot or incorporate them spontaneously. Write them down in your step-by-step plan ahead of time! That way, when you’re in the middle of a grueling day of work or having a hard time getting started in the morning, you can look at how close you are to your next reward and use that as a motivator.

Of course, the biggest reward is the prospect of a completed goal! When starting any project, don’t just think about the nuts and bolts or that you “have” to do it…take the time to really visualize what your life will look like once the work is done. Ask why you’re starting the project in the first place. Are you emptying the garage so you can park your car there and free up the driveway for your kids to play basketball? Have you been dying to host your friends more, but don’t feel comfortable until you have a clean kitchen to show off? Whatever it is, the reason behind your goal is the light at the end of the tunnel. When work gets hard, remember why you’re doing it, and the motivation will come.

 

Do you have any big ideas for this year’s spring cleaning? Let us know over at our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook!