Why You Should Spring Clean In January

My entire adult life, I have made a habit of spring cleaning during the Christmas holidays between December and January. In South Africa, we’re well into summer by then, so it might seem strange at first, but here’s why it makes perfect sense:

1. The Luxury of Time

Although I spring clean around September when it’s actually spring, I consider that Spring Cleaning Lite (patent pending). Weekends are precious and I wouldn’t dream of initiating a spring clean during the week. However, during the holidays I have nothing but time on my hands. Although it’s important to rest during the festive period, for me, it’s equally important to use the time to get my life on track. This year, I spent two days cleaning and organising, and afterwards, I felt like I was one step closer to starting the year off right. But even if the year has started, it’s worth taking time to get on top of things before the chaos begins.

2. Clear Headspace

During the year, it’s often difficult to focus. There is so much going on that you end up juggling work, family, friends, finances, your household, etc. Without the distractions for 1 million other things you should be doing, you can focus your time and energy on getting things in order, which is going to make you happier and feel more in control.

3. Renewed Focus

The end of the past year and start of the new one brings about a clarity. Whether we admit it or not, we look at our lives at this time and most of us reassess our lifestyles. You think of things you want to change, things you want to leave in the past year, or things you want to work harder at. You can use that clarity in sorting through what should stay and what should go in the new year. You’ll also find that you come across things you completely forgot you had, like the arts and crafts supplies you were going to use but didn’t have the time for. Or the sweater you love but now fits a little too snuggly. Use this time to realign your goals and as a part of designing the life you want.

4. Energy Boost

If you do it right, the process can be invigorating. It’s exciting getting on top of things and once you’ve completed the task you will feel a sense of accomplishment that will empower you to take on the new year.

I speak from experience when I say the sacrifice of a day or two is well worth it. Don’t look at it as a waste of time you could be using to relax, but rather an investment in the year ahead. Starting the year on the right foot is crucial if you don’t want to burn out, and cleaning and organising can play a significant role in that. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore. Put on some music and get stuck in!

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” – Joe Paterno

Just for fun, here’s a video that always makes me laugh:

Tidy Space, Tidy Mind

In high school, I got into the habit of cleaning and tidying my room almost every weekend. This isn’t to say that it was necessary, but it just became a habit and even enjoyable pastime. Of course, as I’ve grown older, that doesn’t happen nearly as often because finding the time to take a few hours out of my weekend became more difficult. Let’s face it, life gets overwhelming sometimes and so other, more pressing things take preference. But every now and then, I make it a priority to set time aside to reorganize my space for one reason – to take control of my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but hear me out…

I think I owe this tendency, partly, to Monica from Friends. I’m a huge Friends fan and to this day, it is still my favourite sitcom of all time. I would watch back to back episodes in high school and as a result, certain aspects of the 6 character’s personalities stuck with me, influencing the person I am today. Although it is was a running joke throughout the show, Monica’s mentality of cleaning and tidying, in order to achieve a sense of calm and control, has always resonated with me and is probably the most influential notion that has stuck with me.

monica-friends-cleaning

Adulting is hard work and finding a balance between work, having a social life and other day-to-day responsibilities doesn’t always leave much time for making sure you spend enough time on yourself. I invest a lot of time in other areas of my life and often neglect my responsibilities to myself. For example, I am a hard worker and I believe that I have a very good work ethic, really pushing myself to be the best I can be. So I don’t mind putting in extra hours at the office. As it is work takes up the majority of my week, but I also have weekly YouTube videos that need to be recorded and edited as well as freelance work that takes up a lot of my free time. As a result, I often find myself putting off certain chores. I like having a neat living space, but sometimes it just isn’t a priority and so a pile of books on my desk, for example, becomes more excusable because (I think) I simply don’t have the time or it isn’t important. But this is actually a big problem.

“Usually we think of self-care only as eating well, getting enough exercise or rest; or service to others as working at a soup kitchen. But maintaining an upright environment, inner and outer, is the way to authentic happiness, which radiates out as genuine public service in myriad forms. The spaces we inhabit can inspire us to feel more whole, sane, relaxed and unencumbered – or the opposite.” – The Practical Psychology of Cleaning Your Room!

You see, your environment has a direct influence on the way you feel, which has an impact on your overall productivity/efficiency in all aspects of your life. Allowing ourselves to neglect minor, seemingly less important tasks actually gives them greater value, making small things feel like an even bigger chore than what they actually are. And, of course, a lot of small things combine to make one big thing. Not only is the accumulation of to-dos a problem, but because you know that this isn’t the way things should be, this adds to the stress you already have from other aspects of your life.

This isn’t the case for everyone, though. Some people tend to flourish in a messy space. For example, creatives by nature go against conventional reasoning. So going against the societal norm of being organised, having a messier environment (workspace and/or living space) can be more conducive to their creativity. Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

So, what it the moral of the story?

Get to know yourself. It’s important to gauge the impact of your environment on your effectiveness and adjust accordingly. If you’re truly perfectly content with living or working in an untidy environment and either benefit or aren’t affected by the messiness, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you notice that an untidy environment makes you feel unorganised and heightens your anxiety, it’s time to reprioritise.