Autumn takes us inside. We’re closing things up, settling down, looking inward – all in preparation for the new beginnings of spring.
Everyone knows about spring cleaning. Many of you, like me, probably do fall cleaning, too. Get the house prepared for the coming season, right? What about getting the rest of your life prepared?
Have you thought about fall cleaning for your work? Your relationships? Your lifestyle?
I’ve seen several dozen fall cleaning checklists sprout up online in the past week. If you don’t do regular maintenance cleaning and need to tackle everything on these lists, it could take you a couple weeks. Fall cleaning, like spring cleaning, is a massive overhaul project. And now I’m telling you to apply it to your life, too?
First, work smart. Why would you opt for two weeks of hard labor, twice a year, if you didn’t have to? You don’t. Whether it’s housecleaning or an office project, don’t let the everyday tasks get so big they start to bog you down, or require a team effort to resolve. This also means regularly culling or archiving, whether it’s household clutter, office files, or online life. (Did you think it was a coincidence that National Unfriend Day is in the fall?) For example, think about your email subscriptions, your social media contacts – and whether they’re useful or clutter. Keep your priorities straight. In your personal relationships, keep the lines of communication open so there’s no buildup of clutter interfering with understanding.
Second, finish what you start. Follow through is important. You know what happens when you start a load of laundry and then let it sit in the washer. It gets mildewy and smelly because you didn’t finish the job and get stuff into the dryer (and put away). What would happen if you did half-assed at work? Who knows – you’d never do it, right? So what makes it okay to do at home? Or with last January’s resolution to get in shape?
Third, take care of stuff when and how it needs taken care of. For example, many “experts” will tell you to always exercise in the morning. If that works for you, great! For me, it leads to a huge energy crash a couple hours later, so I do better with a serious workout in the evening. Be proactive about organizing your time, and do it in a way that makes sense for you. Whether you clean top-down or clockwise around each room doesn’t matter, as long as it gets done.
Finally, be flexible. For example, how do you handle stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere? In terms of cleaning, that giant stuffed bear you won at the fair can go into a spare closet or to a local charity, if you really don’t want it around. (But ask yourself this: if you knew you wouldn’t want it, why did you play for it?) Can you be as open to solutions when you have to go back to the drawing board at work? No matter what time of year it is, there’s a storm coming, and a tree that can’t bend will break. This is a great time to get creative and build your willingness to compromise.