Clear the Clutter Monthly Challenge: Spring clean the small spaces (think bookshelves, nightstands, and your desk).

Spring Cleaning Challenge: Why It’s Important to Clear the Clutter

February is officially behind us and that means we’re looking toward daylight savings and springtime blooms.

Winter has a tendency to keep our bodies and minds in hibernation mode. As we withdraw inside ourselves to conserve energy for the season, we can often unintentionally let things pile up around us. With sunny days ahead of us, though, it’s time to stretch our limbs and break out of our winter shells so we can replenish our creativity and spark a more vibrant fire in our lives.

This season of the Productivity Paradox is all about investing in you. In March, we’re tackling this by spring cleaning the clutter in our lives, so we can fill our cups with new inspiration and energy.

Before I jump into some practical, hands-on strategies for picking up and organizing the clutter around you, I want to talk about why it’s important in the first place.

The benefits of spring cleaning

Mental

Even on our best days, our brains are crowded by too much information. Alongside the mental to-do list and appointment calendar, we have big ideas for our lives and businesses. We have books we want to read, podcasts we want to consume, and special projects we keep wanting to start. And then we have a never-ending stream of social media news that we can’t seem to turn off.

Clearing the clutter in your life starts with the physical environment around you, but, after you tackle the practical cleaning, you may notice yourself sleeping a little better and feeling a little lighter.

Emotional

After the holiday season, most of us spend the month of January recovering from travel, jumping back into the school/work routine, and overcoming whatever sickness we caught at the end of the year. Valentine’s Day suddenly appears from the shadows, a reminder to show the ones we love just how much we appreciate them.

By March, we realize there are a few friends we haven’t seen in months (you just couldn’t coordinate schedules back in November!) and you’d love to reconnect. Clearing up space gives you the opportunity to open your time and to deepen those relationships you may have lost touch with.

Physical

There’s no doubt about it… cleaning is a WORKOUT. Now, I’m not going to ask you to scrub the floor with a toothbrush, but we’re definitely going to get some arm exercises in as we organize our living spaces! The best part is that you can work in a little bit of cleaning in between other things you’re working on, so you’ll end the day with a workout AND a tidy space.

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Clear the Clutter Monthly Challenge: How to organize small spaces like your desk, the mail pile, cluttered nightstands, that messy entryway, and the overflowing bookshelves. #springcleaning

Spring cleaning the small spaces in your home

1. Declutter your desk

My #1 tip for decluttering your desk it to take everything off it! Give it a good dusting, and seriously consider each of the objects before you place them back on the surface. You might want to ask yourself these two questions (for each item!):

When was the last time I used this?

How often do I need this?

“There’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.” — often attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Anything that you don’t remember using recently should be rehomed to a new place—whether that be a drawer, closet, or recycling bin. Your desktop should only contain the things that you use often (like your pens, planner, and computer) along with a few things that bring you joy sprinkled in.

2. Manage your snail mail

The paper that you bring in from the mailbox can quickly take over your space, especially if you don’t have a centralized location for gathering it. Whether you use a basket, a wooden organizer, or a tray, you need to stick to bringing your mail to the same place, every time.

Make a habit of sorting the mail as soon as you bring it to its spot. Like the office clutter, I like to sort it into piles:

  • Keep (for the photos and cards)
  • Toss (for the catalogs and junk mail)
  • Take Action (for the bills and things that need to be scanned to the computer)

Keep up this routine for a week or two and it will start to feel natural. You’ll probably even find yourself sorting them at the mailbox, before you get inside the door.

I also highly recommend opting out of any catalogs that you’re not interested in by calling the phone number on the back that usually appears next to your address. The website catalogchoice.org is another great way to reduce the amount of paper you get in the mail.

Lastly, enrolling in paperless billing for your bank statements and utility bills can also cut down on the clutter. Soon, you’ll be wondering why you never receive any mail!

3. Arrange your nightstand

Everyone has an “I’m not sure where it goes, so I’ll just put it here” miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen… but I’m willing to bet that your nightstand looks similar. At the end of the day, when we just want to snuggle under the covers and sleep for a blissful 10 hours (we can dream, right?), we remove our jewelry and pack our books, electronics, and glasses onto the nightstand.

One of my favorite ways to keep this part of the house clean is to use inserts within the drawers to keep everything organized. This way, you can group together jewelry, toiletries like lip balm and facial tissues, and emergency supplies like batteries and flashlights without encouraging a mess.

4. Organize your entryway

I could probably host an entire podcast episode on organizing your entryway. It’s especially impossible to keep tidy in the wintertime, so when spring comes around, I’m eager to change out the big, bulky coats and boots for the spring windbreakers.

The best thing you can do to organize your entryway is to accessorize it in a way that makes it impossible to make messy! Cubbies, baskets, hangers, key racks, storage boxes… there are so many items you can use to contain the accessories that pile up around the door. You can sort by person so each kid gets their own container, or you can sort by item and pile all of the hats and gloves into one box. Find what works for you and stick to it.

5. Tidy your bookshelves

If your pile of “need to read” books is stacking high, it’s time to head to your bookshelf and make some room so you can free up some mental and physical space. I know it can be hard to say goodbye to a book, even if you haven’t started it or won’t finish it… but there are plenty of people who would love to enjoy a used book! Clearing your shelf space also gives you the opportunity to get more reads that you’d enjoy.

Once you take all of the books and knick knacks off your shelves, you’ll probably need to do a good dusting (or three). After sorting your books into keep and donate/sell piles, you can freshen your bookcase by arranging the books in a new order, like by color.


What’s one area of your home that you can’t seem to keep tidy, no matter how many times you clean it? Share in the comments so we can swap tips and advice that may help.

Are you ready to spring clean your systems? The liveWELL Method is coming back (the cart opens TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 6th!)! Join us in making significant changes in your life and business with smart and effective productivity systems that we’ll work together to create.

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  • Kaethe Pittman

    I can’t seem to keep my studio tidy. It doubles as office space, so I constantly have both papers and project materials spread all over.

    March 6, 2018 at 8:16 am

  • inkWELL Press

    Kaethe, for you personally, it sounds like this is the area you may want to focus on clearing the clutter for spring! I hope some of the tips above help you out in cleaning out your studio as they would for others small(er) spaces. I would also suggest implementing an automation for cleaning out your studio either weekly or monthly, depending on your needs and schedule. It can be as simple as a monthly reminder on your phone to clean it on a day of the week that will be easiest to block out just 30 minutes to an hour of your time. Even better… maybe you have someone – a friend or family member – who wouldn’t mind helping you out or keeping you accountable? Try listening to some music or having your favorite drink while you complete the task to make it more enjoyable too! I’d love to hear back about how a new system for cleaning this area is going for you!

    March 7, 2018 at 3:31 pm

  • LB

    I love the organizer you’ve pictured on the bedside table — where is that from?!

    March 6, 2018 at 10:05 am

  • I can’t keep my kitchen island cleared off

    I can’t keep my kitchen island cleared off

    March 10, 2018 at 8:52 pm

  • inkWELL Press

    That is definitely a hard one because it’s normally near the front door, and most people might head to the kitchen first! Try implementing a new, simple rule that everyone puts their things in their room or in a designated container/bowl near the entryway. When you have a specific spot for something, it’s much easier to utilize it over the counters!

    March 13, 2018 at 9:34 am

  • Kathleen

    The living room. The rest of the house is easy, a little upkeep and no issue. But the living room is a daily battle. Everything gets left out.

    March 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton