Spring Cleaning House And Mind – How To Get Motivated To Declutter

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Many of us are getting in the mood for spring cleaning, but it can be difficult getting motivated. Try these ideas to help you get motivated to declutter!
Spring Cleaning House And Mind - How To Get Motivated To Declutter


Spring Cleaning Your House And Your Mind – How To Get Motivated To Declutter

Spring has sprung. This event will immediately throw many of us into Spring cleaning mode! We have all kinds of cleaning tips on the website to help you but they are of no use if we aren’t in the right frame of mind for spring cleaning, so here are some things to think about as you get started.

Often we feel our homes are out of control with piles of things all over and so much stuff to organize. We need to remember God doesn’t give us things so that they can control us but for us to control them. I want you to really think about that. Are your things controlling you? If you aren’t sure, here are some things to help you decide.

  • Do you wake up every morning feeling as if things are out of control before your feet even hit the floor?
  • Do you spend a good portion of the day looking for stuff, moving stuff and trying to figure out where to put or how to deal with stuff.
  • Everything in your home should be there for your pleasure and enjoyment or to help you in your daily living. If it doesn’t, you need to get rid of it (no not your husband, I’m afraid. You must keep him : ) :)
  • Notice that I didn’t mention things of sentimental value. A good portion of what people save is saved because it has sentimental value. This is a major thing that people need to come to grips with. You can keep a few things, of course, but you shouldn’t need to fill a room or two with things that only have sentimental value.

    People have bemoaned the fact that their closets are jam-packed, they have no more room and don’t know what to do. I have helped people clean out their closets and, a lot of the time, half of what we got rid of were “memories” they forgot they even had– favorite clothes that they can no longer wear, every card sent to them from an old boyfriend even though they have been married for 30 years and so on.

    I have pulled down large boxes of their children’s school papers. I’m talking about every single math homework page the children ever did. One small file folder is enough for each year’s highlights and by the time they graduate you should be able to fit all 12 years of important school papers in one folder.

    Then there are boxes of stuffed animals and favorite blankies. One or two of these items is fine but not boxes full. I have seen many people who have been so busy taking care of their children’s “memories” and things they haven’t had time to enjoy their kids. Is there something wrong with this picture? This is just one example of how we need to really to get a grip and let it go.

  • Are you at the mercy of your things? Do you continually find yourself washing, polishing, dusting, moving, storing and cleaning things that really have no purpose in your life and aren’t useful to you?


The next time you pick up something to move, clean, polish or otherwise handle, really look at it and ask yourself, “Why am I keeping this and what does it do for me?” How much pleasure does that ugly vase from Aunt Mabel (who died 25 years ago and who you only met once in your life) really give you? Sell these things or give them away to someone who might be able to use them or get pleasure out of them.

Really pay attention to everything you have. I once laid a stack of things on my fireplace mantle and forgot about them. I got so used to them laying there it was weeks before I noticed they were out of place. We tend to get so comfortable with the things around us we don’t realize that we really don’t need a lot of these things.

Start looking at your things but, most of all, take control! Don’t let them control you anymore.

You will be amazed at how free you will feel and what a burden will be lifted by getting rid of excess stuff. We don’t always realize how much responsibility we feel for these “things” and what a relief it is to have these responsibilities lifted from our shoulders.

Spring is here, so let’s get to Spring cleaning! Dust off those cobwebs, reduce the clutter that has been choking us all winter long and make our homes start working for us instead of the other way around. : )


If you need more motivation be sure to check out our free e-book When Queens Ride By.



  1. says

    love this column. Where I am we usually still have 3 feet of snow at least. Today I walked outside with the cat and started looking for rhubarb to be peeking up through the earth. Not there yet but soon.
    As to the cleaning. well that will come along slowly.
    But reading the thing about keeping something because of the memories brought to mind a show called Neat on HGTV. A professional organizer went into homes and helped people get rid of clutter.
    each room had 3 boxes garbage, donate, recylcle and a 4th to keep.
    when one lady actually sat down and was crying because of memories she was getting rid of she was asked did she use it, did she like it. she answered no to both but still said I can’t get rid of it because of the memories.
    The organizer explained that the memories were in her heart and mind and not in the pieces she was hording. Still wanted to keep them all. So then she said take a picture of all the things and put them into an album. she would have more room and would still have something concrete to look at for the memories.
    It seemed like a good suggestion to me. But I am unsentimental so memories are not a problem when getting rid of stuff.
    But anyone who has the memories or sentimental attachment to things it might be worth a try.
    My problem is books. We just hate to get rid of books and yes we do go back a read them over and over but they are still taking over the house.
    So some will go to the figure skating club book sale this month just hope other clubs will have the same thing a few times this year.
    good luck on the cleaning.

    • tammy says

      I also love to read, and re-read books but hated the clutter of books. Now I purchase books on my kindle and I love it. They are all organized and I don’t have to worry about little kiddos getting a hold of them and tearing pages out, or writing in them, oh and the e-book version of a book is usually cheaper!

    • Jan R says

      Some libraries have regular book sales (3 or 4 times per year). They will take any books during the months before the sale, usually with the exceptions of textbooks and encyclopedias. I have brought many boxes. They don’t even ask that I categorize them. They categorize and price them for the sale. It’s been a godsend, because I too have a book problem! lol

  2. rose says

    thanks for posting this jill… as always, you give the best timely advice! …
    i was just telling my son (now that he has a van for the paper route) that we will be deep cleaning out this house and finally take some of these things to the goodwill …
    and at walmart yesterday i wasnt the only one buying cleaning supplies, garbage bags, mops and brooms…

    thanks jill for posting this…
    hope all is well with you adn the family 😀 😀

  3. LAC says

    AH! I have started to Spring Clean my house yesterday! I got the kitchen done from top to bottom. My son helped me to organize my cupboards and I am feeling better! Now for the rest of the house…I take one room at a time and clean from top to bottom. I will wash curtains when I am done cleaning!

  4. Bea says

    That is so true, Jill. I noticed that the last 2 times I moved I found “stuff” in closets that I forgot I even owned. I ended up almost filling a dumpster with garbage bags of old clothes, magazines, junky Christmas decorations, and all kinds of things. The hard part about “clearing out” right before a move is that it makes a difficult job of moving, especially when you work. So it’s best to clear out things periodically throughout the year. We all do have a tendency to own more things then we need or use. I have learned from this and try to use the things I have, instead of always buying more. How many pairs of shoes does a woman really need or even lipsticks? Too much stuff is no good. I don’t want to be like those people I’ve seen on TV who can’t even walk through their house for all the junk everywhere. I always feel so sorry for those people. It’s sad. Thanks

  5. Jan says

    thanks, I loved the comment regarding taking photos of the items of sentimental value. Unfortunately, I have boxes of photos already as I have been taking photos for all my life. Most are in books, but I also have a few boxes. They are in plastic containers that are waterproof and yes, I do take them out and look at them often as a lot of the people in the photos are now gone. I have tried to put some of the them on the computer, but have lost a great deal when the computer has crashed (too many times to count). I do have CD’s but I worry now when the new technology comes out again, I also have a lot of floppys with photos on them that I will have to convert to something else so I can see them. Technology has already changed too many times in my lifetime.

    • trinnda says

      Maybe upload them all to cloud storage i.e dropbox or something of that nature so that you have a backup if your computer has a meltdown.

  6. Barbara says

    I laughed when I read the note about things being in the wrong place so long you don’t even notice them any more. I left a tacky little Christmas ornament on the mantle until about July one year; it just simply got overlooked every time I dusted and cleaned up, kept meaning to put it away. Finally just grabbed it up and threw it away, which is where it should have been put anyway. Now I try to be more careful about noticing things like that!

  7. says

    well I started.
    Just donated about 200 hard and soft covered books to the swim teams book sale.
    Have to go to the store tomorrow for more boxes since I still have lots to get rid of.
    Strange thing is my husband is helping. He never wants to get rid of books so I guess he is thinking either that the mines will close in a couple of years or he wants to get lots of new ones.
    Next week probably will have a new laminate floor done in the living room. So spring has sprung.
    I think I want it done this year since I don’t know how my health will be in the next few months.
    The dr. has told me the xray hints at a cancer of the plasma in my bones. Totally treatable but chemo could be involved.
    So I want the house clean for when I can’t and my cleaning can’t get it done even for company.
    Also I have to stay positive. I am working on a barbie doll knitted wardrobe for my grand daughter. And working on baby things since my son and dil want to start a family and they are also planning to come from china to live.
    So lots to celebrate.

  8. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Thanks for the inspiration. I had a minor flood and my house got filthy-I was too ashamed to call the plumber!

    I love my books like they were children, so I started El-Marcoing the best ones and discarding the others. Only six boxes to go!

  9. rose says

    i was at the supermarket last nite and guess what htey have now ? .. wipes u can use on ur silver! .. hehehheehe 😀 .. i never thought i’d ever see that but they have it ….
    thought i would share this .. 😀
    also thanks for the great article .. 😀

  10. Tanya says

    This is a great post. Very good reminder that we are supposed to control our “stuff,” instead of our “stuff” controlling us. Last summer, a friend of mine knew a woman getting out of rehab and starting over with her kids; this woman had NOTHING. Several people donated “stuff” from around their houses and soon this woman had plenty for herself and her kids. Let’s put our “stuff” to better use!

  11. Goatgirl says

    This is so timely and useful. I retired last year, sold my house, and moved. It was a huge move to another state, complete with cats, dogs, chickens, 30 head of sheep and goats and all their accoutrements. As this momentus event in my life unfolded, my motto became: IF I HAVEN’T SEEN IT, WORN IT, USED IT, OR EATEN IT, IT’S OUTTA HERE. Several thrift stores over the past few months have benefited from my epiphany. Oh, what a release! But I agree with the books… hard to let go of some of those. But that is up to the individual; what really IS important? A year later, now that the dust is starting to settle, I see that I am down to family photos that were handed over to me… and who ARE all these people??? This task seems to be sitting over there on the back burner, but it’s time to dive in to all that and pare that pile down, too. Of course, this has been easier for a single girl compared to someone with a spouse and extended family. But everyone can find a way to lighten the load in their life; one begins to be able to pay more attention to people, not things. goatgirl

    • says

      Goatgirl I know what you mean about the photos. I reached the stage in my life (after having moved so much) a few years back of why am I keeping photos of acquaintances of my great uncle who I didn’t even know (the great uncle I didn’t know)? Why do we keep pictures of donkeys taken in 1950 with no one in the picture or 25 pictures of dolphins. I was ruthless. If I had more then one picture of the same thing I tossed it or a picture of just grass it was out of here. Or in the case of the dolphins – if I wanted to look at a dolphin I can go on the inter net or library for a picture.

      Many think because you have digital cameras that you can go crazy and do as many as you want but even if it is on your computer it is still clutter and you can’t enjoy the good fun pictures because you have so many “clutter” pictures to wade through in order you enjoy the good ones.

      I don’t envy you any having to do pictures but sounds like you are on the right track.

  12. Jenny says

    I noticed you’re having a sale on some of your e-books. A few weeks ago there was a email you sent out about info on cutting your grocery budget it was a class or something. I was sick and dealing with sick preschoolers all the while caring for my newborn that week and never got around to checking my email until it was over. Is there going to be a sale on that e-book or info again? My husband is going to be switching jobs from the corporate world to working at our church. It’s going to be a significant amount less then he makes now. So I’ve been doing what I can to spend less to get into the habit of having less money and I could use all the help I can get. Thanks so much for the tips you put in your articles and on your website. I’ve already put many of them into practice.

    • says

      That was an item from another person that we were selling to our readers. She said she will have it on sale again but doesn’t know when. Our sale tomorrow is on our Grocery Shopping on a budget e-books and it will be a HUGE deal, 70% off so be sure to check it out.

  13. grayhairgranny says

    Try checking out Freecycle.org. This is a national organization where people can recycle their unwanted items. It is based on small areas so you don’t have to drive all over if you want something. I just gave a 20″ bicycle to a 8 year old and I am looking for a desk. This is a great way to save money, recycle what you don’t want, and get what you need for free. Try it! You’re gonna love it. I Do.

  14. Carol says

    I love this topic! I have been spring cleaning in my bonus room (guest room/office/craft room) and was delighted to find gift cards totaling $25 that I had not used (& they haven’t expired!). So, don’t delay your spring cleaning, there could be some money in that clutter!

  15. rose says

    ((( hugs ))) grandma .. i will be praying for u .. and hope u get a speedy recovery .. just take one day at a time and dont worry about the house or anything .. just take care of urself .. YOU are the most important one at this very moment ..

  16. says

    Thank you Rose.
    After 6 months of being on the wrong meds I am on new ones. They seem to be working but I am still in the wait and see mode.
    Too much sad stuff happening within my extended family to be optimistic. In the last 2 weeks I have lost a cousin and an uncle to brain cancer. Kind of a shock to the system as now it is in both sides of the family.
    The RA will never get better and I have been told it will get worse.
    On the bright side my son and his wife and new daughter will be here in late July or early Aug.
    So now spring cleaning takes on a new must do position. I am taking it slowly and being firm with Don to stop buying stuff we don’t need. A 2 bedroom house with 8 extra people leaves little room for junk.
    We are planning a camping trip family reunion so that will take some of the pressure off but a 6 month old camping will be an old but new experience for us old folks. Did it all the time with our 2 and the older grandchildren do it every year so it should be doable as long as we keep our sense of humours. DIL’s are not the this is fun type when it is pouring rain and tents get flooded.
    Got rid of a bunch of books and balls of wool that I can’t knit with and a couple bags of clothes on the weekend so the purging continues.
    Hopefully the weather will stop jumping around so my body can move easier.
    All I can say to anyone having problems is keep at it and don’t sweat the small stuff. In the big picture most of it is all small stuff.
    Kids, family and friends are the only big things in life.

    • says

      Grandma it sounds like in spite of everything you are still going for it. I know how hard it is to get rid of books and to get rid of fabric or yarn etc. so I would say you aren’t doing bad at all in the getting rid of stuff.

      I just sat down for a moment and have been going through my books. I have some really old cook books I’m trying to release. It may take me a moment to convince myself to do it. I guess I need to practice what I preach huh?

  17. says

    I Love the clarity of the advice you give here.
    I also go back from time to time to read the e-books that I purchased from you a while ago.They have that same clarity and they still inspire me, as do all your posts, and that’s what it’s all about.
    God Bless,

    • says

      Thank you Gerie. I work so hard trying to make things easy to read, follow and understand -the same way I like it when I read or learn something new so I really appreciate you saying what you did. I also thank you for the nice things you said about the e books. I don’t mean to be but I know I sound like a hard pitch sales man when I tell people about the e books sometimes but it is more to help them understand we put some really helpful info in them and from their questions I think the info would be helpful. Also I am glad about what you said about going back and rereading them. They are the type of thing you can keep and reuse like a good “handyman” type of book so thanks again.

  18. Cindy says

    I read recently a great idea for keepsakes – take a picture of them for your photo album and then give them away, sell…whatever. You have the memory saved without taking up space.

  19. rose says

    jill .. i know u r thinking of what to do with those old cookbooks .. you might want to hang on to them and wrap them in a box and give to elly when she is married ….
    just a thought here ..
    i know from hearing my mom say (she is 82 1/2) all of the time she wishes she had hung on to grandma’s recipe’s too so we would have a bit of her memory to pass down to the generations ..
    or another idea: you could copy the recipes that u normally have used out of those cookbooks and make like a memory book for elly (and if u want, the other grandchildren too) ..
    just an idea ..

  20. Sandy says

    So timely, last week a young lady asked on a homeschool group for some yarn. So I went to my shelves and took down 6 totes of yarn and just pulled out handfulls and filled a box, took it to her. She is just learning knitting and crocheting and she now has many different textures, weights and types of yarn to experiment with. Felt so good to get rid of some of it, and help someone at the same time.
    Started on my office, catch all room this week, may take a few days but I will enjoy getting the patio furniture outside and having the middle of that room open and available, so I can sort things out.

  21. LARA says

    This article (and most of y’alls comments) really spoke to me. I hope it lasts till I get home and can actually do something – at least one thing!

  22. Heidi M says

    Remember that your local library would probably appreciate donations of books and magazines. I like to cut out recipes that look good…but when I honestly look at all the recipes I have cut out and not tried…:) Combine that thought with the ease of finding recipes on the internet…no more recipe cutting for me!

  23. maggie says

    Our local library is always looking for books in good condition that they sell – $0.25 for softbound, $1.00 for hardbound. I buy sometimes, read and donate back. I get to read a bestseller and the library gets the benefit of selling the book another time. I’m sure lots of people do this in our town. Some of the books are brand new, especially the kids books. I buy them and send them to my grandchildren.
    I love the idea of copying the recipe and giving the book away. I have a tough time giving away my cookbooks because I read them like novels. My son has taken some of them but it is tough to get rid of them. I like to try new recipes but often find them on the internet that look better than my book. Now I have the copies to put somewhere.

  24. says

    Great column. I just had a baby and went through my first child’s things in prep for the new one. We had soooo much stuff. I gave 75% of it away. I’ve also had people ask me what I did for his nursery. He got a bassinet and a baby bed in big sis’ room. It’s just simpler to go with what you need versus what you want. It’s liberating to be done with the junk. And as you wrote in a recent post, I now realize why my mom was always picking up. It makes a big difference in the clutter.

  25. Tommie says

    My husband, parents and sibling are all gone now—–and I find myself to be the “keeper of the memories.” This is a heavy load and an emotional one, too. I am planning to send a portion of all those pictures and other family documents to various family members who might want them—-look out California cousins. My daughter and son will “inherit” the remainder. A lot of it will wind up in a dumpster, but I won’t be around to make that decision. Tommie in Abilene, TX

  26. mamavanous says

    Thank you so much for posting a link to this today in the email newsletter! I really needed this frame of mind change! What a blessing for me, thank you!

  27. Mary Jane says

    I don’t know how old these postings are, but I wanted to send out my support and prayers to grandma, and let you know I am still thinking of you. Your post about your cancer testing shows that you do indeed understand about de-cluttering and getting rid of what doesn’t serve us well, not just physically, but mentally, too. It is a good idea not to dwell too much on the possibilities, until the doctors have some concrete answers. Your post shows that you are thinking positively, keeping busy with constructive activities, and focusing on good thoughts of time spent with family and friends. To do otherwise, just uses up precious time, energy and opportunity that can be used for better things. You are a great example, and I know from being a new comer to this sight (fairly new) that many here love and support you. Keep us posted as your energy and desire dictates.

  28. Kikiriki says

    Last year, our kitchen and bathrooms were completely gutted and remodeled, and we ended up with boxes and layers of things in the computer room, making it basically unusable. I was pretty unhappy about this. I am on the final draft of my first novel, and being unable to use the desktop computer brought my writing to a dead stop.

    I have chronic pain issues, but I finally tackled the computer room last week, working slowly for an hour or 2 before taking a break, and while I basically ignored the rest of the house except for the kitchen, lol! It took several days, but I finally have the junk out of here, the closet is organized with clear bins so I can see at a glance what they contain, the bookcases and the desk and the drawers are all clutter free and organized, and the room is CLEAN – no more dust from being unused for a year.

    I didn’t realize how much this was bothering me until I was finished. It was physically difficult and painful for me, but I paced myself and took my time and didn’t give up, and the reward of getting ‘my’ computer room back has lifted a weight from my spirit I didn’t know was there. Now that I’m able to sit here and write without the distraction of a cluttered bookcase and desk, etc., I know that I will never allow this room to become a junk room again.

    I’m also inspired to start other cleaning/organizing projects. The bedroom closet and our dressers need a good clearing out of things/clothes we no longer use, the linen closet is a disaster, and I need to revamp the cleaning closet so it’s easier to store the vacuum and so on.

    My husband has his own project – he’s been clearing out and organizing our garage, so we can have it finished inside, opening up some extra space to have a work area, storage area for groceries for me, other storage, and an exercise area to work out in, as we want to get ourselves in better health.

    My goal is to get the entire house clutter free and organized, so it will be easier for me to clean and maintain, and to give myself the peace of mind of not feeing guilty when I do something other than housework, like writing.

  29. Mama2eight says

    We had a fire in our house. All our stuff is now in boxes and bags in a storage container on our driveway. We have to go through all that stuff before it goes back in the house. Much has already been thrown away, but I’m not sure what…

    I saw the hand of God from the beginning. It’s was just a small fire and was put out quite quickly, but the smoke damage means replacing our carpet and furniture and washing a lot of clothes. This forces us to Spring clean! Even though the fire was way back in December….

    We should be back in our house by the end of the month. Hopefully I will be able to buy some furniture before that or else we will have nowhere to sit or sleep. God provided our insurance to cover all the loss and repairs.

    Sometimes you just don’t have a choice!

    • says

      So sorry to hear about your fire. I am glad you had insurance and I hope some of your more precious things were saved. One thing for sure I think most of us can not complain about doing basic Spring cleaning because your example shows us things could be so much worse. Hope all goes well and you can get back into your house in a couple of weeks.

  30. Brenda says

    This is so timely! A couple of weekends ago, I decided that I HAVE to get a handle on the clutter in my home. I have too much. The clutter and stuff is to the point that I hate to come home from work and look at it, so since the weather is nice, I procrastinate doing something and go outside instead. Well it rained two weekends ago and the cleaning commenced. I started in my bedroom since we tend to pile things we don’t want guests to see in there. One pile in a corner has turned into a dumping heap. I sorted everything in the pile and only kept a handful. I was ruthless. I donated 3 Walmart bags full of craft supplies to a children’s after school center, took another 3 to the thrift store, and tossed out about 4 bags of stuff. I then tuned on mine and my husbands closets and dressers and cleaned out 3 large garbage bags that went to the thrift store. I now can walk in to the closet and find anything I want or need, no digging required. I even had room after all this cleaning to arrange an overstuffed chair in my room. I love to sit and read in the evening before bed. So now the hubs can watch his news without me grumbling and I can go have peace and quiet and read. Next up are my kids rooms. I know they feel as overwhelmed as I do. They are 16 and 13 and don’t play with toys anymore and those toys are taking up space. I think it is time to sort, donate, and probably keep a few of the precious ones.

  31. Sue says

    I, too, have trouble letting go of books….sigh… Must go through them soon to thin them out. Your post gave me some needed motivation! Thank you! And LOVE the “have to keep your husband” comment! Lol!!! 😉

    • says

      I feel your pain Sue.I love to read and my idea of a perfect life is sitting curled up in a chair reading 24/7. : ) One thing that really helps me is knowing I have a library where many of the books I love are and they can order them for me. I know it is hard but we must be brave. : )

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