How to Spring Clean Your Whole Life — One Step at a Time


'Tis the season for cleaning and organization. We've spent the winter hibernating and surrounded by all of our material things that have provided us comfort. But once spring has sprung, we'll want our spaces to be more open, a lot cleaner, and we'll want to pack away all the cold weather garb we've been clinging to the last few months.

The concept of spring cleaning doesn't need to be limited to the literal cleaning of our homes, though. We could all use a bit more organization and decluttering in every aspect of our lives. The coming of spring signifies a fresh start, so why not take some time now to cut out all the things you don't need and simplify your life?

Here are some ideas to help get you started.

1. Cut Down on Your Time Commitments

If you are finding yourself completely booked all the time, you may want to learn the art of saying "no." In my own life, I have worked hard at fighting my people-pleasing ways. Saying no the first time is hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. You can always say yes to something that really motivates or inspires you. Otherwise, try to focus on the most important things in your life and let go of the stress over over-commitment.

2. Minimize Your Routine

If getting ready in the morning takes up a chunk of your time, you may want to consider ways to simplify. If deciding what to wear is using up precious time, try following a more minimalistic clothing approach. I like Project 333, where you choose 33 or fewer clothing items and wear only those items for three months. If it's your hair or makeup routine that's eating into your morning, consider getting a more manageable cut that's wash-and-go versus needing a full blowout. Toss old makeup and keep only the basics (and try going sans makeup from time to time). (See also: How to Build a Downsized Wardrobe You Love)

3. Drill Down Your Career Goals

Determining career goals can be tricky — especially if you are highly motivated. But the key is to be specific. Don't try to take on too much at one time. For example, you may want to find a new job, get a raise, and network more. Too many goals may lead you to over-scheduling and generally feeling overwhelmed, thus spinning your wheels.

Choosing just one goal to go after — even if your goals are seemingly related — may bring you the most success. When opportunities do arise, ask yourself first if they are activities that align with your primary career goal. (See also: How to Say No at Work and Still Get Ahead)

4. Find Fun in Fitness

Figure out a fitness schedule and stick with it. If you've been paying for a gym membership but you never go, ask yourself why. Do you need a buddy to go with you? Does it get too crowded during the time of day you like to go? Or on the flip side, do you lack motivation to workout at home with free options? Then you might need to bite the bullet and sign up for a studio class. Find the hurdle and remove it. Exercising more helps you manage stress and feel better. It's an essential part of staying healthy. Don't neglect this. (See also: These At-Home Exercises Will Give You a Gym-Quality Workout For Free)

5. Be Conscious About Food

Sometimes eating lots of processed foods and takeout can make you feel clogged up both physically and mentally. You may want to eat a healthy diet but don't know where to start. Here's a 28-day challenge that can get you off on the right foot.

Focus on the pillars of healthy eating:

  • Eat whole foods;
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow;
  • Enjoy foods packed with micronutrients;
  • Get your fats from plant sources.

Also, try shopping the perimeter of grocery stores versus the middle aisles where most processed foods are shelved.

6. Be Selective of Your Social Circle

Surround yourself with only the people who bring the best out of you. If someone is constantly bringing their negative energy into your life and there's no way to change that, cut them off.

7. Limit Your Social Media Time

Facebook can be a great place to build your network or reconnect with old friends. But if you're finding yourself at midnight, deeply angered at the political rantings of a classmate you had back in third grade, it may be time to step away for a while. I share this from personal experience.

8. Cut Back on Screen Time

Most Americans watch shows and movies around four and a half hours per day. That's a lot of time that you could spend working toward your goals. Whenever you think about all the things you wished you had more time for, think about what shows you can cut that will still allow you some down time or entertainment but also get you off the couch doing something productive.

9. Demolish Your Debt

Bills are the area of focus in my household right now. My husband and I have grown tired of all the loan payments for cars, college debt, and home improvements. We have sent checks for years without thinking much about the interest. We've decided we're going to try the snowball method to pay off our debt ASAP. It's never a bad time to look at your finances and make your get-out-of-debt plan.

10. Clear the Clutter

Speaking of freeing up the budget, you may want to have an internal conversation with yourself about your attachment to stuff. One way to spring clean your life is to actually do a little spring cleaning.

I most enjoy the KonMari method, where you physically touch each item in your home and see if it brings you joy. If not, you can toss or donate or give to a friend. Skeptical? Many people who have gone through this process have found it to be transformative. Things can really weigh down your mind (and your wallet, for that matter). (See also: Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever)

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