Spring Cleaning Good for Your Soul
A Professional Organizer’s Advice
It’s spring. That season where we give extra attention to keeping our home environments spiffy and under control. Even those of us who aren’t the neatest around—not that I’d know anything about that, ahem—we get one whiff of fresh spring air and feel the urge to muck out closets and scour shelves.
We all know that we are supposed to spring clean. But I got to thinking about the WHY’s behind all this cleaning, and especially about the de-cluttering and organizing.
So I spoke with an expert, Sahina, a Professional Organizer often employed by interior designers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2001, Sahina has specialized in helping people deal with not only the physical clutter in their homes, but also with the emotional reasons why they hold on to, or can’t bring themselves to deal with clutter.
Trained in the art of feng shui, and various emotional healing philosophies and techniques, she believes that clutter in our homes is a reflection of a cluttered aspect of our inner selves.
I felt calmer and less cluttered myself, after talking with Sahina. Here’s what she had to say.
HW: Now is the time for Spring Cleaning, we hear about it all over. But, WHY is spring cleaning important?
Sahina: It’s a very traditional thing. It feels natural, feels like a cycle of nature. It helps you get back in touch with the natural inclination to shed the old and make room for the new. Like our physical bodies shed their skins so that the new can come in. It’s a way to keep the energy in your home clean, clear and alive.
HW: I know you believe that de-cluttering and organizing at home can help one’s emotional well-being. Can you talk a bit about that?
Sahina: I’ve learned from my own experience that if my environment feels weighed down, I feel it as a weight on my mind or as a burden. You have to keep that “relationship” with your home healthy; to do so you must keep it clear.
Some people don’t realize we are affected by everything around us; it has an impact on us. By being aware, we can stay feeling internally clean & light. Like a relationship with another person, you need to deal with the “stuff” in your home as it comes. Some people are more sensitive to the stuff; many people are really good at tuning it out and need to become more aware.
HW: Everyone is busy. And some of us are crazy busy; this is how our homes sometimes get in a state of disorganization. How can a busy person start to make a dent in the problem?
Sahina: You can literally go insane by trying to keep up with modern, American life. If you don’t have time to keep your space in order, that’s a sign that something is out of balance in your life. Ultimately we are in control of our lives, you decide in the end how to manage the time. It’s about taking back charge of your life. It may appear you have to say yes to all these commitments, but maybe you really don’t.
HW: What are the top steps you’d recommend to get a handle on clutter in your home?
Sahina: Paper clutter is often the worst… Have a recycle space set up near where you collect the mail. Immediately mail you don’t wan’t goes to recycle. You have to have a system for the papers to flow. I am amazed that so many people do not have a basic, good, clearly labeled filing system. The key to organization is that everything needs a home.
Papers need a home. Think of it as water flowing through a river. Create a physical structure of organization for the papers to flow into.
You have to be willing to put in the time it takes every day. Take a few minutes to keep it moving. Otherwise it piles up and it starts to feel like a stress. Just a few minutes every day makes a big difference at the end of the month.
HW: What about that room many of us have, often the guest room, that’s really become the “junk room?”
Sahina: The junk room is a way of not dealing with stuff. Often people that I work with don’t really think things through clearly enough, or think it through to a deep enough level to make wise decisions about the stuff in their homes. Often with inherited items there’s this sense of obligation.
You need claim your home as your own and know that you can decide what to have in it.
Have clear cut boundaries and don’t feel guilty about not displaying someone’s gift to you that you don’t like. You’re free to choose. You are the “artist” of your home and you are responsible for it. You might as well be happy in your home. Sometimes people don’t own their power and their stuff can have a power over them. Your home can be a microcosm of your life; you need to be willing to take charge of both
HW: Everyone is cost conscious today. What are some inexpensive organizing tools and supplies that you and your clients use to get good results?
Sahina: Quite honestly, most people don’t need to go and buy things to get organized. Many have organizing tools and gadgets that they aren’t using. More likely, people need to get rid of stuff they don’t need, want or use. So don’t first go and buy a bunch of new organizing tools. Get rid of the excess and use what you have wisely and efficiently.
When you need or want to buy organizing tools, I recommend The Container Store. They have inexpensive and good looking things so that if you want a wood container rather than a plastic container—you are the one going to be looking at it—get something that you like.
Sahina finds helping people unclutter their homes and lives very satisfying . She says, “It’s like honoring and respecting the physical environment that balances out the spiritual being. We have to do the clutter clearing inside and out.”
Sahina works primarily within the city of San Francisco, and is also available for the the nearby North, East and South Bays, depending on ease of accessibility by public transport.
So, what about you? Do you think there’s a connection between “clutter” in our lives and clutter in our homes? How do you feel after spring cleaning?