LOOK, we love spring as much as the next person. And there are plenty of words associated with the onset of the fairest season that bring smiles to our faces: “bloom,” “break,” “fever.” But “cleaning”? It comes in second on our least-favorite list, right after “allergies.” Because let’s just say we haven’t really been the best at keeping our dust bunnies at bay. And maybe we never really got to our I’ll-get-to-it-later pile of expired coupon booklets and pre-approved credit-card offers. And perhaps that nifty basket we bought from The Container Store with the intention of neatly stowing away something very specific is where we now stash everything but the intended items. Owing to our lack of incentive to purge junk as soon as we get it—with a special nod to pets, kiddos and possibly roommates—the mess has piled up.
So when the annual cleaning-minimizing-organizing triathlon rolls around, the chore seems insurmountable, which is why we enlisted the help of Megan Ludvinsky, organizer extraordinaire and founder of About Space, a central-Arkansas company that specializes in busting clutter. She’s been a proponent of the spick-and-span lifestyle ever since she was a kid, categorizing her folders and labeling her drawers. “One time, I was in trouble for some reason, and [my mother] sent me to my room,” Megan says. “She came in 10 minutes later, and she was like, All right, your time-out is up. And I was like, I’m good. I’m good here. I was reorganizing and color-coding all of my belongings.”
But even for someone like Megan, spring cleaning is part of a yearly routine. “I think spring cleaning is, unfortunately, always necessary, because dust and everything accumulates,” she says. “But reorganization might not be necessary.” By following her hard-and-fast rules for good housekeeping, she says spring cleaning will become an easy-peasy ritual next year.
Create a home for everything you own.
“If you can, store things where you use them,” Megan says. “I guess the goal is to eliminate as many steps as possible for when you do use your items. For instance, store your coffee where the coffee maker is. That way, you don’t have to travel or take too many steps to finish a task.”
Store similar things together.
“If everything has a home, you can now store like with like. For example, you can store your batteries together so there isn’t one in every room. Also, if you have rechargeable batteries, you can take all of the recharging equipment you might need and store them all together.”
Commit to putting things away.
“This is what people struggle with the most because they’re busy. If everything has a home and a destination to go to, and you’re storing like with like, then whenever you finish a task or a project, all you have to do is put everything away. If you do those three things, you can pretty much organize everything.”
“I’m a big fan of what I call ‘chunking.’ Most of my clients feel very overwhelmed with their clutter, and they don’t know where to start. I want people to know how very normal that is. If you could just start with a little bit every single day, you can make a pretty big difference in your space. Then it becomes a habit. I have two different schools of thought on where to start. One is to start somewhere small where you see the biggest impact, like a junk drawer. Or start in your bedroom, because that’s where you wake up and start your day.”
Reassess your closet.
“Springtime is really a great time to examine your garments. Look for holes. Look for stains. Look for any reason you could get rid of them. Really focus on clothing that makes you feel amazing. If you’ve always had this shirt that you don’t love, but it [cost] a lot of money, or you [loved it] at a certain time but it stopped serving you at some point, it’s time to let it go. I also recommend having a bin in your closet for donation items. When the bin fills up, you just take it your local charity.”
Let go of what you don’t need.
“I always try to tell my clients, You don’t have to marry this idea. Just date it. Date the thought of getting rid of this vacuum cleaner that no longer works, or this bag of bottle caps that you don’t really know what you want to do with. It’s important to me to try to get my clients to think about things in a different way.”