Smarts
Charlotte Hannah
March 14, 2013

4 Simple Ways to Spring Clean Your Life


The days are getting longer, the temperature is rising and the snow is giving way to muddy ground and the accumulated cigarette butts and garbage that have collected over the winter. You know what that means: it’s time for some spring cleaning!

I know you’re probably not the biggest fan of cleaning in general, and that’s OK — I think it’s perfectly normal to be suspicious of anyone who says they are. But hear me out, because spring cleaning can actually be a really positive ritual — not only because it leaves you with a spotless home that you won’t have to clean for like, at least a month, but also because when taken to its full extent, it’s a great way to shake off the mental, physical and emotional dust of winter and start fresh.

You see, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be limited to dusting the drapes, mopping the floors and getting to the bottom of that mysterious smell emanating from the back of your fridge. It can also include getting your shiz together and emerging from your winter cocoon as a badass butterfly who’s ready to take on the rest of the year. Not to get too hippy dippy on you here, but now’s a great time to spring clean … your life.

Start with these four tips and just try to tell me you don’t feel better about yourself afterward.

Get fit

You see a lot of articles popping up this time of year that try to convince you spring is the now-or-never time to “get your bikini body back!” While this is some straight-up BS (do I even need to say why?), there is a grain of truth in there: spring is a good time to get fit.

When I say “get fit,” I’m not talking about weight loss, unless that’s your cup of tea. I’m talking about the fact that several months of reduced exercise and gorging on winter comfort foods is bound to have you feeling sluggish and blah by this point. It’s time to crawl out of your cold weather hidey hole and get the frig outside. That warmish, glowing orb you see in the sky? That’s the sun. It welcomes your return.

Take advantage of the warmer weather and extended daylight hours and get out for a walk in the fresh air every day. Park the car and start hoofing it to work, or take yourself for a romantic stroll in the park after dinner (post-stroll self-sexytimes are optional, but recommended). Or, kill two birds with one stone and walk to your local farmer’s market on the weekends to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies.

Do some stretches a few times a day. Stretches are easy to do and they make you feel good – do you really need another reason?

Try switching out the hearty chilli and cheesy pasta for some lighter, warm weather fare like fresh salads and grilled chicken. And don’t forget to get in the summer swing with a seasonally appropriate beverage like sangria, or beer (beer is appropriate for every season). But like I said, this isn’t about weight loss — so don’t forget to tuck into a big plate (or several) of chicken wings when the summer weather rolls around.

Ditch all your unnecessary crap

Spring is the perfect time to rid yourself of the clothes, papers and other assorted junk you’ve accumulated over the past year. Not only is this literal spring cleaning, but unburdening yourself of your worldly possessions will also help you feel more at peace with your surroundings, not to mention ascetic as heck.

Go through your closet — and your dresser, and that huge pile of shirts in the corner of your room you keep meaning to do something about. Anything you haven’t worn in the past year gets the boot, along with anything that doesn’t fit. From there, it’s up to you. For example, if you’re the type who cares about style, this is a good time to get rid of last season’s fashions.

And don’t forget: if it’s in good condition, donate it. If it’s not, find a way to reuse it or throw it out. Just get it the heck out of your closet. Once your closet is sparkling clean, you’ll find you have tons more room to put in a fancy new closet organizer or install that Ryan Gosling shrine you’ve always wanted.

The same rules apply when it comes to the rest of your junk. If you haven’t used it in the past six months, you won’t miss it (with the obvious exception of important documents and family photo albums). If it’s been lurking in the back of your fridge for more than a few weeks, you’re not going to eat it — so either toss it in the trash or enter it in your local science fair, whichever seems more appropriate.

Prune your profiles

Since you’re doing all this cleaning in your real life, you might as well do some pruning of your digital one as well. What better time to unfriend that person you barely talked to in high school, tweak your security settings and delete any old posts, tweets and likes that cast you in an unflattering light? You’re a serious grown-up person now, and none of your serious, grown-up friends need to know about your past obsession with One Tree Hill.

This is a good time to change your passwords, too. Yes, all of them. No, not to “password” or “123456,” both of which are seriously the two most common passwords. This guide to picking a good password will help you choose passwords that can carry you over into next year. Technically you’re supposed to change your password way more often than that, but I’m being realistic here.

Now that you’ve done that, maybe you’ll be ready to wade through the jumbled labyrinth of Untitled Documents and mislabeled mp3s that is your hard drive! Just kidding. You can do that another time — or just buy a new computer.

Replace a good habit with a bad one

All this cleaning, reorganizing and de-cluttering is probably making you feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the year. Why not keep that feeling going by improving not only your body and your surroundings, but your mind, too?

Don’t go too crazy with this one – not only because trying to make too many changes too quickly will doom you to failure, but also because, as the movie Limitless taught us, trying to change your brain too fast will … OK, I fell asleep during that movie. Can you even blame me? I digress.

A good start would be to ditch one bad habit and add one good one. It doesn’t even have to be something monumental, like “Quit smoking and start running a mile a day.” Nor do the two habits have to be related. Here are a few examples of easy stuff you can do:

“Stop swearing at my cat and start remembering to call my mom once a week.”

“Stop judging people for their stupid ringtones and start drinking a glass of water before bed every night.”

“Stop leaving the shower curtain open and all bunched up after every shower and start reading one book a month.”

Now, obviously just saying you’re going to start doing something and stop doing something else isn’t good enough. You need to come up with a plan. Set some SMART goals and a timeline and have at ‘er. Then, report back to me in July … preferably over a seasonally appropriate meal of beer and chicken wings.