Time to get organized.


Spring is upon us and that means one thing: spring cleaning. To make this annual process of shaking off winter doldrums a bit easier, we wanted to let you in on a little secret. If you really want to maximize spring cleaning, you need to tidy up, of course, but what you really need to do is declutter.

If you have binge-watched Netflix's Get Organized with The Home Edit or Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, you already know that decluttering is pretty much what it sounds like. It means looking at items and assessing with fresh eyes whether they really make you happy or are just visual clutter or items or collections that are weighing you down. Decluttering doesn't mean losing every seashell you brought home from Myrtle Beach, ditching your souvenir snow globes, or donating your grandmother's vintage cake stands—if those items truly bring you happiness.

To start decluttering, pick one room and make three piles: what to keep, what to donate, and what to put in the trash. One perk of doing this while spring cleaning is that as you dust, vacuum, mop, and organize, you can also assess whether the various items filling your shelves and closet are meaningful, useful, or useless. Going through one room or closet at a time also means less likelihood of burning out on the project.

Successful decluttering does require some brutal honesty with yourself and those you love. Tastes change, needs change, and people change, so if a painting that you picked up at an antiques fair in Memphis no longer appeals to you, donate it. If you never quite got around to doing that cross-stitch kit since you bought it ten years ago, get rid of it. While Southerners love their heirlooms and antiques, if you're holding on to items in the hopes of passing them along to the next generation, it might be worth asking the intended recipient if they actually want the wedding china or family silver. If they say no, don't take it personally, but look for a new recipient who will love it or donate it to someone in need.

While spring cleaning is a time-honored Southern tradition, like with most things our mamas taught us, turns out there is an actual scientifically proven benefit to it. Turns out there is a growing body of evidence that clutter is bad for your mental health. Researchers have found that people with more things tend to have lower life satisfaction. That's right, the more clutter you have, the less happy you tend to be.

This year, when you start your spring cleaning, start decluttering, too.