Spring cleaning improves work environment, calms minds


Photo by Gaby Gutierrez

Various books prescribing different methods of organization and decluttering are available at libraries like Chantilly Regional Library.

Gaby Gutierrez, Staff Writer

With a rise in consumerism and the availability of cheap, manufactured goods, the tradition of spring cleaning has increasingly grown to focus on decluttering and organizing. 

According to Forbes Magazine, people now own twice as many commercial goods compared to 50 years ago. As a result, spring is a great time for people to organize and sort their belongings.

According to Janet Schiesl, founder of the Centreville-based company Basic Organization, the first step in organizing is to place all items in one area and sort through each item one by one. This allows a person to understand their current inventory, and then the person can begin to get rid of items. When deciding whether to keep an item, Schiesl recommends people ask themselves if they use it or love it. If the answer to both those questions is no, then one should get rid of the item.

“I make three piles: one I would definitely like to keep, one that I’ll put in the basement for sentimental reasons, and then I put the rest for donations and donate to charity,” sophomore Eva Jaber said.

After deciding which items to donate, there are several charities and organizations that can take the items. People can either consign the items, sell them on an online thrift shop such as Depop or Poshmark or donate the items to charity shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army.

“You should not donate anything that you wouldn’t give to a friend as a gift,” Schiesl said. “There are so many [places] to offer things and find somebody who will take [the item].”

Holding onto items that are not in use can contribute to negative thinking and attitudes. Aspirational clutter is defined by Break the Twitch as keeping items that people envision for their potential selves instead of benefiting their present selves. This can cause low self-esteem and resentment inwards.

“Everything in your closet should fit you right now,” Schiesl said. “That pair of jeans that is too small is taking up a lot of space in your head. When you see that pair of jeans, your brain says, ‘You don’t fit in that, you’re bigger than you used to be.’ It’s always a negative comment.”

While organization may seem like a physical activity, it can be a mentally taxing and emotional one too. Many find it difficult to get rid of items for several reasons ranging from sentimental value to the idea that one day the item might be useful. While it can feel intimidating to tackle a project or clean out your closet, bringing along a friend or a group can help. With multiple people organizing at the same time, cleaning out spaces can take significantly less time and be more fun when working with others.

“Sometimes it’s guiding [someone] through the process, other times it is just [having] a friend or family member that is non-judgmental helping you,” Schiesl said.

Organization is not only important in living spaces, but it is also necessary for many professions. The National Association of Productivity & Organizing notes that having an organized workspace can increase productivity by decreasing stress and providing a person with more time to work since they spend less time searching for items.

“One of the things we say in the industry is [that] if your area is crazy, your head is crazy,” culinary arts teacher Clay Doubleday said. “If your [work] station is messy, then your brain is messy.”

Organizational guru Marie Kondo writes in her book, “Spark Joy” that tidying up requires confronting oneself. While spring was originally a time for people to clean their surroundings, it is also a time for self-reflecting, understanding habits and learning how to get and stay organized at school, at home and at work. 

“Spring is a good [time] because people get very motivated,” Schiesl said. “It’s not that the calendar starts again, people want to make a fresh start.”