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Mindful spring-cleaning: Top 3 tips for decluttering your physical and mental space


Winter is finally giving us New Yorkers a reprieve and we are welcoming spring with open arms. Spring not only brings warmer weather, but also signifies new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s a time to take action in our lives and many do so by focusing on spring-cleaning. Feeling comfortable in your space is key, especially in New York, where space is limited and organizing our environments can have positive impacts, both physically and mentally. According to Marie Kondo, the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” tidying up is an essential and life-changing endeavor. Here are three tips from her book to help you start your spring-cleaning off right:

  1. Don’t clean to avoid, “tidy up with intent” – Cleaning is often thought of as a chore that we begrudgingly do. It is frequently a means of procrastination, such that we clean instead of studying for that upcoming exam or sending that important email. Rather than being a focus of its own, tidying has become a placeholder for anxiety. Kondo sheds a different light on tidying up; highlighting that if we tidy with intent the process feels differently and becomes a special event. Kondo touches on the connection between our thoughts and actions, and is essentially emphasizing that mindfully cleaning alters the experience. Being present and aware while tidying versus mindlessly going about it changes out relationship to the activity. Additionally, when we engage in behaviors with intent we take on more agency and build mastery. Not only are we “doing what needs to get done,” we are also deliberately making the choice to create a goal and work towards it. By seeing spring-cleaning as a means of freeing up space, both internally and externally, it morphs from a nuisance to a practice.

  2. Don’t clean half-heartedly, “tidy up with determination” – Kondo encourages her clients to visualize their destination prior to starting their tidying journey. She asks them what they want their space to look like and how they want to feel when there. Our living spaces affect our bodies and minds, thus it is important to be thoughtful about how we shape them. Rather than tidying up a little bit each day, Kondo recommends using the “destination” as motivation to set a designated amount of time in which to achieve this. Doing so in an allotted timeframe and with a clear goal aids people in seeing it through to the end. Additionally, the more concrete and specific we make our goals, the more measurable and more likely they are to be accomplished. Identifying what your goal in tidying up is and creating a timeline will help you fully achieve it and keep it tidy long-term.

  3. Don’t clean without first discarding, “tidy up with two simple steps” –Kondo notes that while organizing the items one owns is the second step in the art of tidying, an important and even more integral step is first discarding items from your space. Her advice - focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to remove. Assess each item based on the pleasure and joy it brings so that in the end your space is filled with items you love. Letting go of items can be both challenging and cathartic, and concentrating on keeping the items that fit into the predetermined idea of what you want your space to be can facilitate this process.  Discarding will leave you with less clutter and more items that you truly value creating more simplicity in your space and mind.

We hope these tips motivate you to create a space that brings you joy!


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