When I was a girl, I had a hard time motivating myself to clean my room. That isn’t uncommon for ten year olds, but my aversion bordered on compulsive. I used to save candy wrappers – empty candy wrappers! – under my bed because I just didn’t want to get rid of them.
Thankfully I outgrew my hoarding tendencies, but I still struggle every time spring cleaning comes around. I know it’s good to declutter, clean, and organize my home each year, or before I know it I might start finding candy wrappers under my bed again, but spring cleaning is not something I enjoy.
(Who does enjoy spring cleaning, you might ask? You might need to meet my sister. She and I were always organizational opposites. She should probably have her own organizing TV show, and I should probably be her first project.)
In all seriousness though, there is value to taking stock of our possessions, determining what is cluttering up our lives, and organizing and cleaning the things we decide to keep. I have found that when my house is decently organized (and I don’t have to use my body weight to shut our closet doors), my life is easier and I have more time to focus on things that matter. This is not to say that I still don’t require some mental preparation to get started though, and there are a few things that I’ve found can help me with motivation.
1. Make a list. I have always been a list-maker, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction to cross things off a list. Making a list of my spring cleaning goals helps me stay focused.
2. Peruse Pinterest. If I have absolutely no desire to clean, Pinterest is a great motivator. A couple quick searches, and I am usually ready to tackle some of my clutter piles. A word of warning though – there is a thin line between gaining motivation to improve your space, and becoming discontent with things you can’t change about your space. Use Pinterest with caution. A couple of good searches to try are “cleaning tips”, “spring cleaning”, or “decluttering”.
3. Shop for cleaning supplies. For some reason, getting a new cleaning spray or tool makes me want to go home and give it a try. Even a new air freshener can do the trick, because I want my house to look as clean as it smells.
4. Expect improvement, not perfection. Sometimes it can be discouraging when you give away half the things in your closet, and it still doesn’t look like a page from an organizational magazine. But I haven’t met a real-life person yet who has every area of their house perfectly organized. You have to keep in mind where you started. Taking before and after pictures is a good way to remember what your house looked like before – recognize the improvement!
5. Focus on the goal, and remember that things are not our treasures. We might accumulate material things because it makes us feel secure, but in the end an excess of material things tends to complicate life. Even though the process of organizing and cleaning (especially if you haven’t done a thorough job in a while) can feel anything but simple, the goal of organizing our homes is to make our lives simpler. Keep the end goal in mind and remember that our posessions are not our treasures. In Matthew, Jesus tells us to not store up treasures for ourselves on earth, but to store up our treasures in Heaven. That is what has ultimately helped motivate me to let go of the things that I don’t need, and take care of the things that I do need – because I want to spend less time worrying about my stuff, and more time storing up my treasures in Heaven.
I think I have improved a lot over the past year when it comes to organizing and decluttering, because I have kept that last one in mind. When I start to view my things as treasures, I tend to store them up. I only have limited space, and it gets harder and harder to find places for all my possessions. Spring cleaning becomes a major project because I become to attached to material things, and the more things I have, the harder it is to clean around everything.
Spring cleaning is much easier when I keep the perspective that my eternal treasures are not going to correlate to my material possessions. Decluttering, cleaning, and organizing periodically helps me keep a handle on the material things, and then I have more time for the things that will truly last. The things that last forever are people, my relationship with Jesus, and His Kingdom – and those are the things in which I want to invest more of my time and energy.
What motivates you to tackle that spring cleaning?