Spring cleaning thankfully only comes once a year. But we can all agree, even if it seems like a monumental bummer before we start, there are few things as refreshing as a house free of clutter and grime.

Here’s some helpful hints to get you started, and a couple ideas at the end that will help get to the finish line.

Make a Road Map

Before you even begin, figure out what needs to be done. This can be the most relaxing task of all, so beginning will seem like no task at all. Just get a pad of paper and a pen and list your rooms at the top of each page. Pour yourself a cocktail or a glass of wine (or your favorite smoothie, if you prefer) and take a peek into each spot. Write down a few notes – which light fixtures need to get cleaned, the dirtiest windows, unwanted clutter, or anything else that catches your eye. When your done, turn on Netflix and return to your notes later. You’ve started!

Smaller Tasks Are Easier

Tackle each task separately if you find yourself too busy to block off one whole week to knock out the entire project. For example, split cleaning your windows into three blocks if it seems too daunting to spend all day washing off the dirt. Start with the dirtiest. Then do the easiest the next day. Tackle the windows left on the final day.

Find some time between other tasks to work on each project. Mark each task with an estimated time – 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. Each day do only one thing. Within 30 days, your whole home will be uncluttered and clean.

Don’t Forget The Kids

It’s their house too! Your children will thank you for the discipline, one day, far into the future. But seriously, once you’ve broken the entire house into smaller tasks, certain items will jump out on the list. These jobs are short, around ten minutes, and can be done easily by your kids. You can reward them as well – their favorite DVD, or a light-sugar snack – creating a quick win-win situation for the whole family.

Closet Sweeping

This task seems endless, but can actually be fun. Put aside time to do this one right. Poke around your closet and drawers. Don’t remember an article of clothing? Get rid of it. Haven’t worn something for a year? It’s gone. Don’t think twice, and don’t get sentimental. If you have to save something that you no longer wear, take it out of your closet and put it in storage.

Take all your discarded items and donate them. Now you have closet space – which means you need to go shopping. A surprising double victory worth the couple hours of trouble.

Incentives Boost Morale

Don’t expect to make it through the entire task on good thoughts alone. Pay yourself along the way. Have you been waiting to hear the latest album by your favorite artist? Blast it on the stereo while you work through a chore or two. Or toss on some headphones and put on an audio-book. Once you’re done, reward yourself with dinner and get delivery. Or pour yourself a cocktail, or a smoothie – anything. Remember, your family will thank you, but only you know that sweet spot that makes the medicine go down smooth.

The Final Reward – Shopping Day

Did some items not make it through the winter? Did the cat finally claw through the upholstery on your arm chair you’ve had since college? That stain from Christmas isn’t coming out of the rug in the dining room? That’s great news. Get rid of it. You deserve it. Pair down and replace. Find great deals on spring collections and work your way back towards organizational sanity. The pay-off is a light heart and a fresh lease on living.

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