Time management Mondays: Spring cleaning

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If you can stand another post on the topic of spring cleaning, I would encourage you, first of all, to read Carys’s interesting comment on the etymology of the phrase: back when houses were closed up for winter and heated with fire, spring cleaning “cleaned the smoke residue off the walls and ceilings, cleaned the curtains of drapes of smoke residue, washed all the linens and aired them in the fresh air, etc.”

Of course, contemporary spring cleaning isn’t half so clear cut in its purpose. Tidy up? Declutter? Deep clean? If, like me, you’re always looking for a pointer or two about streamlining the stuff in your life, check out this recent piece in Slate, which makes the very reasonable point that the trick to a clutter-free home is ruthless unsentimentality. (And, I would add, tidy children; the first thing my son does each morning when we get downstairs is liberate his play kitchen from all the little wooden fruits and veggies that we so assiduously tucked away in it the night before, then laugh with maniacal glee.) Writes the author:

It’s easy to see why amassing a platoon of figurines is a bad idea, but what about that bazaar of spice jars in the kitchen or the apothecary’s worth of primping products in the bathroom? When I am in houses that feel dirty to me, it is rarely an issue of strange collections of Precious Moments angels or African fertility idols run amok; far more often the owners have “ceased to see” all of the goods that crowd their spaces. While some of these, like olive oil, may be in regular use and thus worthy of being left neatly out if you prefer, from the stuck-shut vinegar tops and crusty hair crème containers one can surmise that many are not.

Of course, like so many sensible suggestions, this is easier said than done. Whenever I clean my closet and attempt to rid myself of the stuff I no longer wear, I notice a distinct pattern whereby the older something is, the easier it is to give away, no matter its physical condition. As with any relationship, the better you know one other, the harder it is to dissemble.

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