Before spring cleaning, try spring clearing: Advice from a professional organizer

Spring will be officially springing this week, which means the pressure to start your annual spruce-up will be on.

Spring starts Tuesday, so spring cleaning might be on the agenda soon

OK, so maybe you're not as excited about spring cleaning as this guy — but getting it done can be rewarding. (Elnur/Shutterstock)

Spring will be officially springing this week, which means the pressure to start your annual spruce-up will be on.

But before you reach for your mops and dusters, a professional Winnipeg organizer says you should consider postponing spring cleaning and embracing spring clearing.

"Spring cleaning, people associate that with actually getting out the cleaning solutions and cleaning — where we look at the idea of sorting through, editing out and organizing or re-organizing your items that work for you now," said Susan Macaulay, who owns an organizing business called Clarity Over Clutter.

"The cleaning part can come after."

Macauley said this time of year is well-suited for a clear-out for a few reasons.

"We're getting out of the cold and the cabin fever, but we're not quite out there yet," she said. "So being able to take this time and say, 'OK, before the weather gets really good and I want to be able to get out, let's start focusing on certain areas.'"

It's also income tax time, which means you're organizing important papers, she said. Plus, as winter winds down, you're getting ready to pack away some heavy clothing.

"You can take a really good inventory of what you've actually been using this winter, so you can remove the stuff that you haven't used," Macaulay said.

Visualize goals, be specific

Whether you're organizing your garage or your bedroom closet, Macaulay said you need to have a plan — and that starts with having a vision of what you want the finished space to look like, and how you want to be able to use it.

"You want to have a plan and to have a plan you need to have a vision. What do you want your garage to look like? What do you want to use the space for?" she said.

The vision should be specific, she said: if it's the garage you're working on, think about where you want to store your washer fluid, your tools and so on and where you want to be able to walk and park.

Once you're ready to get started, she advised to work in baby steps, and not to think of it as downsizing.

"Downsizing … has sort of a bit of a negative connection to it. Right-sizing is a really nice term that actually works … for where you are right now in your life," she said. "You might have items in your home or you might have a collection of things that you no longer use because they don't fit with what your lifestyle is now."

The same rule applies if you're helping somebody else on their own clear-out — say, elderly parents who are readying for a move to a smaller space.

"Everything has a meaning, or everything feels like it needs to go with you, but the reality is there's just not the space, and there's safety hazards and there's safety issues that go with it," she said, pointing to cluttered walkways and the potential need to store medical equipment.

"It starts with conversation," she said. Adding that it's also important, before helping a loved one, to have a good idea of what their new space offers.

Macaulay compared organizing your space for spring to clearing off your lawn in the fall.

"Just like in the fall you do a clean-up or a clear-up … of all the leaves and get all the excess out of the way, it's the same type of idea for the spring and nice way to start looking from a fresh perspective."

With files from CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show