April is nearly over and if you're in the Midwest/Northeast like me, you understand the legitimate struggle that has been this spring season. Nonetheless, spring is here as is the season to refresh, clean out, and reflect. Time to shake off the snow (even if it means just metaphorically for some of us) and in the spirit of all things refreshing and clean, I have some tried and true tips on how to go about a little spring cleaning for your life. Since it's not my goal to add more to your to-do list, I narrowed this list to only 7 "cleaning" hacks I've found most helpful. Bonus: you'll get some on-going tricks to help you turn these actions into habits!
If these don't leave you feeling as fresh as a daisy, I don't know what will.
1. Purge Your Closet
This is honestly one of my favorite ways to get that super satisfied, "I'm in control of my life" feeling. Have a hard time letting go of your stuff? Ask yourself these questions: "Have I worn this item within the year?", "Is it something I feel really good in?", "Would I trade this for that other item I've been eyeing?" Answer honestly! Once you've made your purge pile, decide what's worth selling (I love Poshmark & thredUP!), and what can be donated.
On-going habits: every few months scan your closet for items you're willing to sell/donate. This will keep you from having to do one big purge every year, and allow space for new items you buy throughout the season. Win-win!
2. Clean Up Your Inbox & Phone Apps
Photos, apps, emails, oh my! Boy, they pile up, don't they? I, for one, cannot stand getting those pesky reminders that my storage is full or filtering through the 5 million promotional emails in my inbox daily. First, unsubscribe to emails that you no longer open or care to see. Since this can often be a tedious process, use a service like Unroll to cut down on the hassle. Next, set up a digital storage system for your photos and other files you might have stored on your phone/computer. If you're an Apple user, iCloud automatically does this for you, but you probably want to check up on how much storage is available since it can be limited. Personally, I like Google Drive and Google Photos because I can access them anywhere and easily share albums with family members who lack Apple devices. Finally, take a look at the apps on your phone. When is the last time you actually played Candy Crush? Seriously, just delete the apps you're not using. If you need them again, you can always re-download them.
On-going habits: set limits on how many apps or photos you'll keep on your phone at a time, and create monthly reminders for yourself to back-up your phone. Get in the habit of unsubscribing to retailers you're not actively using, or create a new folder in your inbox specifically for promotional-type emails that clog your inbox from the important stuff.
3. Refine Your Relationships
This is probably one of the most difficult but most necessary evaluations you'll do for your spring/life cleaning. It's easy enough to identify - if someone leaves you feeling uncomfortable, unworthy, shameful, or otherwise bad, it's time to cut that toxicity out. Really take some time to narrow down who is a part of your life and what purpose they're serving. Feel confident and worthy enough in yourself to allow only people in your life that bring you joy, fulfillment, and comfort. Though the process may not be easy nor quick, those who no longer fit into your life will gently find the exit on their own over time.
On-going habits: do regular check-ins with yourself to evaluate how you feel about the relationships in your life. Getting into the habit of identifying whether you're feeling drained or fulfilled will help you prevent toxic relationships from forming in the first place. Set standards for yourself and stick to them. You're worth it!
4. Practice Gratitude
Often when we're feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or simply hustling hard, we sometimes forget to take necessary pauses for reflection. I'll be the first to admit I am guilty of this. One of the most effective ways I've found to ground myself in moments of anxiety, pressure, and chaos is to quickly list (whether verbally or written) the top 10 things I'm grateful for. Often they surround loved ones and the little moments of joy I find during the day. It centers me, grounds me, and reminds me why I'm working so hard.
On-going habits: There's a lot of psychological and physical benefits to practicing gratitude routinely. Grab a journal and start making lists of the good things that happened today, what you're thankful for, or what makes you happy whenever it feels right. Challenge yourself to do this every week or even every day!
5. Refresh Your Fitness Routine
Maybe you're fully committed to your gym schedule as it stands, or perhaps you're not quite sure where to start in the fitness world. Either way, switching up your schedule and creating new, positive habits can have a drastic effect on your health overall. You'll get into shape and feel actual achievement for your efforts. For example, never tried yoga? Pick up a yoga mat (or just grab a blanket) and test some at-home YouTube options! How about a spin class? Sign up for a trial class with a friend - it'll keep you both accountable and you can share your successes (or misery) with each other. Maybe you're hitting the gym 2 times a week already, so challenge yourself to go 3 or 4!
On-going habits: feeling burnt out in your fitness routine, especially if you're doing it alone, is easy to do. Go with a friend, share your successes online, or simply update your regime every couple months to help you stay feeling fresh and energized to reach your goals.
6. Set a Budget
If you're not budgeting already, you need to start now. No matter your status financially, you should know how much money is coming in and how much is going out each month. It's sometimes a hard habit to pick up - I personally struggled for years to find a method that worked for me (Mint is a great option to get you started!). Eventually, I worked out a simple daily checks and balances system that breaks down what extra spending money I can use for things like social outings, clothes, and traveling by month, week, and even down to the day.
As with most large tasks, start small. Start with notating your daily spending - everything from parking meters to dinner. Write down every time you buy something and how much you spent (pro tip: use the notes section of your phone for easy access). Do that every day for a week, then compare that to what you earned that week. Did you overspend? Figure out where you could've skipped that extra latte or perhaps waited to purchase the ever-growing shopping cart on Amazon and challenge yourself to cut down your spending by 1 or 2 non-necessary items next week.
On-going habits: starting these habits that feel tedious now will make them so much simpler down the road, and you'll be amazed at how easily you'll start saving money for things you never thought you could afford. Adjust your budget as necessary - monthly expenses change, as will your goals. Allow yourself an every-once-in-a-while #treatyoself moment, too!
7. Reevaluate Your Career Goals
This is so important. Checking in on your career goals will help you not only stay focused for the long-haul, but also will help to get through that daily grind and face the day. If you're like most people, your career path has been messy up to this point and probably will continue to be. Meaning, it hasn't gone in the linear projection you'd expected upon exiting school. You might not even be in the field you originally wanted. But hey, a girl's gotta pay the bills, right? (I, for one, have a very hungry dog to feed). So maybe the job you're in now isn't your dream job, and that's ok. But remember to stop and ask yourself these questions: "Am I fulfilled with what I'm doing?", "Am I learning something that will serve me in future roles?", "Are the opportunities here worth my time?". No to any of those? It might be time to reevaluate the job you're in, and perhaps the career path you're on. I left a well-paying, secure job in an industry I actually enjoyed (and still do) because I genuinely answered "no" to all of those questions. I discovered the world of marketing and rediscovered my love for writing shortly thereafter, and it's propelled me back into the creative atmosphere I'd forgotten I crave.
On-going habits: make it a point to try new things, meet new people, and read new books. Do things that challenge you, educate you, and expand your horizons. There's a quote by Charlie Jones that I love that is, "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." Take the time to invest in yourself, and keep your mind open to the possibility of new opportunities as they arise.
Happy cleaning, friends!