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It’s Biology!

Have you ever wondered why some of us are are annually seized by a sudden urge to air out the house, banish dust, organize wardrobes, clean out cabinets, scrub floors, wash windows and organize our garages etc as soon as spring comes? Is it because suddenly there is an overload of advertising everywhere showing people’s perfect houses and the cleaning products they used to make it happen? Or does this urge go a little deeper than this?

Although we may not hibernate like bears, winter can make us humans feel sleepier too. Couple this with the general sluggish and unmotivated feelings we get when the temperature plummets and its easy to see how any serious housework goes out the window. We all know that there is nothing like consecutive grey days to destroy what little motivation we have to clean those bathrooms. Turns out the reason for this sluggish feeling is caused by a simple chemical reaction in the brain!

When it starts to get dark, the pineal gland begins to produce melatonin – the hormone that helps us go to sleep and also helps regulate our circadian rhythm. During winter we are not only exposed to less sunlight because of weather but the earths rotation means we experience shorter days. Due to the lack of exposure to light, melatonin production increases making us feel more tired than usual. Once the days start getting longer and we are exposed to more sunlight, the melatonin production subsides resulting in more energy. Not to mention all that sunlight streaming through the windows probably makes the dust we’d forgotten about highly visible.

All of these biological reasons mean that we are basically hard-wired for spring cleaning.  However, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the things you want to clean and organize. Often, the hardest part is starting, or even knowing where to start! Here are some tried and tested methods to get you from mess to Master Organizer in no time:

  • Give yourself 5 solid minutes.  Sure, five minutes won’t barely make a dent in your mountain, but it’s a start. Then take another five minutes tomorrow. And another the next day. Then before you know it, you’ll have cleared a whole wardrobe or a room and then half your house and then … who knows?
  •  Give/throw away one item each day. This may not seem like the quickest method for decluttering but it sure is easy to do. Think about it, in a years time you would have gotten rid of 365 things from your house!
  • Fill one rubbish bag. Grab a simple large rubbish bag and see how quickly you can fill it with either things you could throw out or things you can donate. Alternate each option and try and beat your time every time you do it. It is bound to not only help you clear out your home quickly but also will make you feel good for donating your unneeded things to people in need!
  • Try the a clothing hanger experiment. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard.
  • Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really easy way to quickly organize 36 things in your house.
  • Change your perspective. Sometimes changing your perspective is all you need to get rid of clutter. A lot of people know that there is  nothing like inviting over young grandchildren  to make you quickly realise you need to move/get rid of things. Another idea is to take photos of your house, this change in perspective might help you notice some clutter you may have missed.
  •  Use your imagination. Use your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.
  • Organize First; Buy Second. All of those pretty bins, boxes and baskets are very enticing, but they won’t do you any good unless they fit the space, hold what you need them to hold, and function properly for your particular space. Clean out first, then assess what you need, only then should you go and buy a few things. You can always add later, but you don’t want a bunch of empty containers adding to your clutter.

If you think you need a bit of help – call in an expert! Have a look at our Home Maintenance section here on Eldernet.

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.