We’ve all been there: “Today’s the day!” we think, optimism fueling our grip on the closet doors. We will sort through the clothes we haven’t worn in five years. We will label those boxes of old tax documents. And we will retrieve that pair of shoes we’re pretty sure we stuffed behind the Christmas decorations during our moving-day panic attack. When we’re done, we might even tackle the kitchen pantry! Or better yet, the kids’ bedrooms! Yes ma’am, spring is the season for new beginnings and we are the harbinger—until we throw open those closet doors, that is.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be as traumatic as that, though. In fact, for Vanessa Pacheco, CEO of SimplyNeat—the organizing service she founded with her friend Juliana Hernandez in December 2021—the art of cleaning and organizing is less of a chore and more of a state of mind, and one that anyone can achieve through a few simple (and dare we say: fun) steps.
“People often see organizing as something stressful because they see it as something unattainable with way too much upkeep,” says Hernandez. “Our job is to help change that mindset and simplify the process for our clients.”
The first thing would-be cleaners need to do, she says, is make a plan. Not everything needs to be accomplished in just one day, and even accomplishing one small task every day—like organizing your shoes—will eventually build into a greater achievement. Pacheco and Hernandez usually advise clients to choose a single room or area in the house, and then begin a process of decluttering and purging. Once you have the whole mess of objects lying out before you, you can begin to pick and choose between the things you need and the things you need to throw away, thus creating an inventory.
“Let’s use a kid’s room as an example,” says Hernandez. “We have all the dinosaurs and all the books and all the stuffed animals. We put everything into those general categories so that your brain only has to look in one place when you can’t find something. It doesn’t have to be a whole complicated mechanism, just some sort of categorization that will be easy for you to keep up.”
Then comes the next step: containers. Whether clear plastic containers or more stylish bins, Hernandez and Pacheco recommend waiting to buy them until you’ve made your inventory to ensure that you don’t end up with too many or too few. After that, label everything to ensure the organization lasts beyond a single spring-cleaning sprint.
“Small steps are easier to process, and in the end, you’ll feel good about not being overwhelmed or stressed by the mess,” says Hernandez. “Keep in mind that harmony and a simplified life are the end goals, plus that feeling of satisfaction when it’s all done.”