“In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.” -Betty Eadie

Notice the word ‘decluttering’, typically hitched to springtime topics, missing from our title? That’s because we’re not only taking a look at our cupboards this season, but our words, too, and the subtly powerful effect they can have.

If you have great intentions each year to freshen up old habits, but lose steam before summer takes her first breath, you may want to read on.

Choosing your words

Ever noticed how many words and phrases we use without thought? And quite often the words we choose have a negative connotation despite their intended positivity. For example, “Can’t complain,” in response to “How are you?” actually focuses the brain on complaining and all the things we could complain about.

We tend to use springtime as a way to focus our energies on making positive changes in our lives, like living in a clear and organised space, eating healthily, or getting regular exercise. The success rate of changing these intentions into actions is higher when positive thought is involved.

And consciously using positive words reinforces positive thought…

You can see where we’re going with this, right? Essentially, before you tackle those disorganised cupboards, it may be a good idea to give a little spring clean to your vocabulary.

Perhaps change sentences starting with ‘don’t’ into positive requests for what you would like done. Or swap “No problem,” with “Happy to help.” Ever noticed how we make jokes about things we don’t like about ourselves? Watch out for subtly disparaging words thinly disguised with humour.

We’re not saying you need to change your entire vocabulary in one spring season. Start by noticing your words, and choosing which you’d like to change. Pick one or two words or phrases to focus on at a time, and as they slip out of your mouth – and you hear them too late – simply work out what you would have preferred to say and make a mental note for next time. Give yourself plenty of time and space to get it right.

Now, for those cupboards.

Or desks, or bedrooms, whichever space it is you’d like to clear. Because, as many of us have experienced before, having a minimalistic, or clear and organised space, has a rather marvellous effect on our minds, and in turn, our quality of life.

But before you get stuck in, ask yourself this

Are you the all-or-nothing, or the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race, type? Typically, the all-or-nothing personality will keep a clean and organised space perfectly clean and organised… until something breaks the order and it snowballs into chaos.

(One dirty cup in the sink of an otherwise clean kitchen has been known to attract a mountain of dishes.) Being aware of your personality’s tendencies – your strengths and weaknesses – can help when it comes to cleaning, and maintaining the results. Whatever your personality type, here are 4 tips we think you can work with:

4 Spring cleaning tips for any personality type

1. 10 min a day

As Leo Babauta, author of Zen to Done and blogger behind Zen Habits, would say, make it a habit. Do a little each day in bite-sized chunks. Make it easy – almost too easy – to stick to.

2. Make decisions

Instead of coming back to things, decide on an action and do it immediately. Have a place for everything, and always put things in their place. For example:

  • Wipe up after making that sandwich.
  • Delete, file, or reply to emails as you open them.
  • Make your bed and put your clothes away.
  • Leave nothing for later.

3. Do one thing at a time

Down with multitasking! Long live single-focus! If you’re clearing a cupboard and find yourself doing laundry or responding to emails on your phone, you are dividing your attention, giving each task moments of broken focus. To feel satisfied at the end of the day and to get more done, work on completing one thing at a time before moving on to the next.

4. Celebrate each other’s strengths

If you’re sharing your newly organised space with family or colleagues, find a way to get everyone’s buy-in. Share the responsibility of keeping the space tidy, drawing on the strengths of each individual’s personality.

Remember, to work out what works best for you, and to keep your goals attainable. And – equally important – keep it fun and lighthearted!

P.S. One last interesting thought on the topic of vocabulary. Apparently, our brains can’t really understand the word don’t. For example, if we said to you, “Don’t think of a pink elephant…”