February in Ohio isn’t always the best. The month is awkwardly smack dab in the middle of winter and spring, meaning that one day it may be in the 40s or 50s and you can smell warm weather just around the corner, then the next day comes another two inches of snow. Northeastern Ohio does have great activities year round, but with the temperature and precipitation changes from day to day can make it difficult to make plans too far into the future. Instead of just staying inside binging The Office for the millionth time, why not make the most of the last few weeks of winter and get a head start on spring cleaning. That way by the time spring finally does decide to get here you’ll be ahead of the game and can fully enjoy the outdoors!
Step 1: Make a Plan
Before you start you need to make a plan. If you don’t plan first there’s a better chance you won’t finish the project or you’ll get overwhelmed halfway through which will make it harder to complete it. Take stock in what you need to do, and think about what will work best for you. If you’re already a fairly tidy person you may only need to do a quick declutter with a deep clean. If you’re more on the messy side it may take a bit more time to clean and organize your whole apartment, which is why planning ahead is so important. A few options are going room-by-room, top-down (starting with ceiling fans and working your way to the floor), inside out (going from inside cabinets and drawers to the surfaces), working by category (the “Marie Kondo Method” suggests this: clothing->books->documents->miscellaneous->sentimental), or whatever other way will work for you. Another important step is to set a time limit for yourself. This will ensure that you don’t stop halfway through or get too distracted along the way.
Step 2: Binge and Clean
If you’re going full “KonMari” this step starts with taking all your belongings and piling them up in the middle of the room then physically touching each item to decide if you want to keep it or let it go (does it spark joy?). You may not want to go that far, but this is the time to put things in boxes to take to the local donation center or try to sell if they’re in good enough quality. Even if you don’t put everything in a pile, you should take things off shelves and out of shelves and cabinets. While your shelves and cabinets are empty you can take a duster or washcloth to surfaces that may not have been cleaned since you moved in. During this step don’t forget to go through all your closets and your fridge too. You may even find things you forgot you had, like that pasta maker from two Christmases ago, and be inspired!
Step 3: Put Things in Their New Homes
Once you’ve decluttered and gotten rid of things you don’t need it’s time to put everything you kept back where they go. This very well might entail purchasing new storage items or rethinking how you organize your belongings. A quick internet search will give you tons of ideas of what to buy for each area of your apartment, including tons of different sized boxes and totes. Think about what you could put under your bed or at the top of closets, and don’t forget vertical storage! Shelves, bookcases, and wall hooks will keep clutter off surfaces (or the floor). You can also use this step as a backup to step two, going through everything again to make sure you want to keep it. If you can’t find a good spot for something you can either get creative or try to donate or sell it.
Step 4: Don’t Let It Happen Again
Once you’re finally done cleaning and organizing, take a few moments to breathe in and fully enjoy your apartment. There’s a good chance this is the best it’s looked since you moved in, and you should acknowledge all your hard work. After that take a little time to reflect and think about what got you to that point, and what you can do to keep it from getting back to that state. What habits can you change, or what little things can you do better to keep your place cleaner longer? If you tend to come home, plop everything down in the entryway, chuck the mail on the counter, and head straight to the couch, commit to taking the few extra minutes after work to go through the mail and hang up your coat. Sure, your apartment will get messier again eventually, but with a little effort next time will be a lot easier.
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