Spring cleaning can be a dreaded, daunting task – no idea where to begin, and worse: no end in sight! With some expert guidance, however, the annual clear-out can be easy, and even enjoyable. We sat down with housekeeping pro Cynthia Townley Ewer, whose book Cut the Clutter has the organizational answers.
CE: In a word, clutter. Underneath every cry for help, there are almost always serious issues with clutter. There’s no one right way or one-size-fits-all method to solve the problem. Instead, start where you are, and solve one single, simple problem. Lose your keys each day? Hang up a key rack near the door, then train yourself to use it. You’ll get a big shot of organizing motivation when you tackle and resolve each small issue.
When dealing with children, it’s very easy to fall into a drill-instructor tone: “Get these toys out of here now!” But this approach is punitive and requires constant parental input. Instead, help children learn skills for a lifetime by working with them as an organizing consultant. Building daily put-away routines into the family schedule helps keep kids' clutter contained, and models home management routines that children can carry into their adult lives.
Kids, this slice of life is above my pay grade. Technology changes so quickly that any recommendations for apps or online resources risk becoming dated by the time of publication. Instead, approach your digital life with the same routines and habits you use in “meat space”. Setting up morning and evening routines to sort, file and answer email can help. Schedule regular backups to ensure you never lose important data—or photos.
I love the enthusiasm Marie Kondo has raised with her books about tidying up; her method is a great way to burst through clutter-cutting decisions and reduce surplus items in the home. When you speed clutter on its way, you make it easier to carry out the other three skill sets necessary for an organized home: organize, clean and plan.
Ready to tackle and tidy? Cut the Clutter offers simple step-by-step instructions on how to combat and stay on top of the clutter tide, plus strategies for organizing every aspect of your home, including meal planning, food storage, paperwork, and planning wardrobes and closet space.
Cynthia Townley Ewer is a leading housekeeping expert and founder of OrganizedHome.com, an information resource for home organization and management. Cynthia’s writing has received numerous awards and has been featured in national magazines, as well as numerous web and radio outlets.