California Probate Lawyer Kavesh Minor & OtisIt’s that time of the year again, where the flowers begin to bloom, the birds are happily chirping, and the sun is beginning to shine a bit brighter and warmer.  However, perhaps your house is still feeling the “winter blues”, with all kinds of clutter and things that could be tidied.  Spring cleaning is an annual tradition that allows us to revive our homes, but it can be a daunting task to even think about. 

Beyond the obvious benefit of simply having a neat and tidy home, a couple of other big benefits that come from decluttering include the prevention of pests, dust, mold and mildew, which can trigger a lot of health-related issues, including asthma and allergies.  Additionally, less stuff equals less stress.  There have been numerous studies that confirm that clutter can increase cortisol levels, which means that it’s causing unnecessary stress and you may not even realize it!  With a less cluttered home, you will be able to find things easier, have less decisions to make, and less “stuff” to have to manage or wade through. There’s fewer distractions, less mess to constantly clean up, and it can help your whole family in the long run (more to come here later).

Spring Cleaning Tips

It can be very overwhelming to think about tackling a big task like spring cleaning, particularly if you have a lot of rooms or a lot of stuff to sort through.  Here are some tips to help you navigate through this process:

Get the Family Involved. 

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be something that you have to take on all by yourself.  Find out how you can get your whole family involved or get their help.  This will be particularly important if some of the items that you would be sorting through and decluttering belong to them.

Take Things Room by Room.

Contrary to the KonMarie MethodTM (developed by Marie Kondo), which recommends that you organize by category (clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous items, then sentimental items), you may want to take things room by room.  It’s far easier for most people who don’t have days to invest in a spread out spring cleaning task over their entire home.  At least by taking things room by room, you can contain the initial “mess” that often comes with spring cleaning, as you start to unpack and spread things out so that you can sort them.

Sort Things Into 3 Categories: Keep, Donate, Trash.

As you begin to sort through your belongings, sort items into three categories or piles.  A keep pile, a donate pile, and a trash pile.  Things like clothes, shoes, electronics, books, and furniture can be easily donated. Or perhaps prior to donating, you may wish to try and hold a garage or yard sale and see what you might be able to sell.  However, garage or yard sales can also come with added stress and work.  There are plenty of organizations, including Good Will and Salvation Army that will take donations and have locations where you can drop off goods or will even have them picked up.  If you are discarding a lot of items that are too big for your standard trash pickup, you may wish to utilize a service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK to stop by and do a pickup when you’re done with all of your spring cleaning.  They will come to your house with a large truck and take it away for you.

Take Breaks When Necessary.

It is unreasonable to think that you will get all of your spring cleaning for your entire home done in a single day.  It always takes longer than you think it will as you begin to sort through things, and reminisce about memories and things once forgotten about.  Be sure to take necessary breaks, including to stop for meals and rest.  Know when to call it a day and figure out when you will pick things back up again, if it’s not immediately going to be the next day.   

Create a Maintenance Plan.

Once you have finished your spring cleaning, you can help keep things clean by creating a maintenance plan of some kind to keep things tidy going forward.  This could be anything from once per month or once per season, sweeping through and doing a “mini” spring cleaning to avoid the need for the major overhaul each year (or more!).

Another Important (and Overlooked) Benefit

California Living Trust Lawyer Kavesh Minor & OtisOne more benefit that will come from your spring cleaning efforts that you may not have considered is the long-term benefit of handling this decluttering and cleaning process for your family rather than leaving it up to them after you’ve passed away.  If you have ever had to clear out a loved ones’ home after they’ve passed, it can be extremely overwhelming having to go through all of their belongings and figure out what to do with them.  By doing this process now, not only do you help eliminate some of this hard work during a future time when they may be grieving your passing, but you may also discover certain belongings that you have forgotten about or overlooked and may have a desire to give those now to your family or donate them to someone else of your choice. 

You may also find or discover things that require your attention, such as your estate planning documents that have not been reviewed or updated.  Or perhaps you still have the trust funding letters we gave you which were never taken by you to your bank or insurance company or some other third party holding your assets.  Tidying up your home can truly provide you with some further peace of mind and allow you the opportunity to focus more on the other things that are really important in life.

In conclusion, we hope that you will take some time this month to give a spring cleaning session in your home a shot.  Even just try it on one room and see how it makes you feel.  Then, you can decide if it would be helpful to move onto other rooms. I leave you with this powerful quote about the idea of decluttering:

"What I know for sure is that when you declutter—whether it's your home, your head, or your heart—it is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life, and your family." 
—Peter Walsh, Professional Organizer & Author

And, at the very least, maybe you’ll get a little exercise trying!

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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