If the above photo fills you with happiness (and envy), take heart: it’s not impossible to make such a beautifully tidy space your own this spring. Decluttering has been proven to not only be good for your apartment, but also beneficial for your state of mind — and, by extension, your overall health and wellbeing.
The path from drowning in detritus to creating a minimalist haven can seem daunting. But here at The Pearl, we’ve compiled a list of simple go-to tips and ideas that can be applied to even the messiest of homes. Whether you have a few cluttered corners or are barely able to see your own floor, these steps can help you realign your space and get closer to reaching apartment bliss.
Step One: Breathe
It’s going to be okay. You can do this. Diving into a big clean-out can feel overwhelming at first, but we guarantee you’ll feel one thousand times better after the fact — and your apartment will look amazing as a result. This whole spring cleaning process is a powerful step in what we at The Pearl refer to as the art of living wisely.
Step Two: Decision Making
At first, the choice seems simple: keep the item, or pitch it. But when you start applying that simple question to every item in your space, things can start to get tricky, quickly. To try and make things easier, ask yourself the following basic questions: does the item work for its intended purpose? Does it give you a lot of sentimental value? Does it take up a small amount of space? Do you use it more often than once a year? If your answers to these are “no” or “not sure,” it might be time to consider the pitch.
Step Three: The Good Old Pack and Date
For items you’re unsure about, consider the following technique, which was perfected by professional minimalists Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus:
- Pack everything into a box and write down the date that’s exactly one year away.
- If you take anything out of the box, see if you can find another space for it in your home.
- If you don’t use anything in the box before the date passes, throw the whole container away without looking inside of it.
Yes, this is a rather dramatic gesture, but it can be a very effective one. The Minimalists credit this simple exercise with jumpstarting their entire lifestyle.
Step Four: Give It Away, Now
Deciding to get rid of something doesn’t mean you have to send it on an express trip to the landfill. Connect with your friends, family and even neighbors first, and see if they might be interested in taking some of your items off your hands. Then consider local charities and non-profits to drop off your items. In Silver Spring, A Wider Circle uses donations of furniture and household to furnish the homes of neighbors in need, and Family Services Inc.’s thrift store, Upscale Resale, accepts furniture, electronics, artwork and more, to help improve the lives of those afflicted with serious mental illness. Online services such as thredup are also great resources for clearing out your closet — they even send over their own bags to fill with your clothes, send back and (depending on the item’s brand and quality) even get paid for your old wardrobe.
Step Five: Maintain
After taking the epic plunge and getting your apartment in tip-top shape, take a little time each week to organize, clean up and keep your space in order. This can be as simple as straightening up what’s on your desk, or taking a broom and doing a quick sweep across the floors. Just 30 minutes on a lazy Sunday is far better — both for your schedule and your state of mind — than waiting to take another hours-long cleaning spree if everything piles up again.
Step Six: Take a Break!
Living wisely means taking a minute to rest and reflect on the work you’ve done. After breaking a sweat clearing out your place, if you need to crash on your couch for a minute or two (or twenty) before feeling recharged, feel free. Or take the quick trek up to our rooftop pool at The Pearl, and contemplate your next step while floating in the water and gazing up at the sky. Once your whole project is over, you can also celebrate with friends over a decadent meal at our communal table.
Have you endured a massive apartment spring cleaning and lived to tell about it? Share your story — and advice — with us on our Facebook or Instagram pages.