The glorious days of summer are not the best days to weed out household clutter. Beautiful days encourage me to be outside rather than indoors. Of course, if and when you get a rainy day or a day too hot or too humid to be out, it can be a great time to tackle an indoor clutter clearing project too. Unfortunately, I have a lot of outside clutter to tackle this summer. Here are some areas and ideas to help you get motivated to tackle outside clutter.
The great outdoors: Take some photos. Looking at photos of your home provides enough “distance” that it may help you to see what needs to be addressed. Outside clutter includes trees and shrubs that may need to be trimmed or eliminated. Tackle weeds growing under trees, and trim deadwood out of shrubs. Take a hard look at swing sets that are outgrown and patio furniture. Flowerbeds can have clutter too. Honestly, after ten years in this home, there are flowers and shrubs that are overgrown and there are some that I am just tired of seeing. Freshen up and lighten up your outdoor look too.
I also am a fan of washing windows and vacuuming or washing screens, applying fresh paint where needed, and mulching to cut down on my weeding in flower beds when the days get hot and muggy. Don’t go it alone. Encourage other family members to turn off the television and come outside to help you! If there are multiple residents in the home, everyone can help take care of the outside parts of it too. Fair is fair.
When you need to pull a weed, pull a weed. Consider weed pulling to be a soothing mental health time, a meditation if you will—you are outdoors, and weed pulling is an easy and repetitive task. Or, if you aren’t sold on that thought, remember it is easier to just reach down and pull that darn weed than to be annoyed by it every time you walk by it! Just like housework, we often spend more time worrying about a task than the time it takes simply to do it.
Good outdoor equipment: When tackling projects, don’t be shy about using the right equipment. Use sharp trimmers, not bent or dull ones. Try a foam kneeler to save your knees—it actually helps! Remember decent gloves to protect your hands from thorns and scrapes. Toss a bad rake and get a decent one—same with shovels, hoses, sprayers, and other outdoor equipment. Struggling with poor equipment makes any task more difficult—inside or outside. Life is too short to struggle with poor equipment.
Keep a bucket handy with the right supplies and it will motivate you when you see it and the bucket will be easy to grab to take care of a quick projects. My bucket includes a dandelion puller, a small hand shovel, a kneeler, gloves, and my smaller clippers.
When tackling outdoor projects, break them down into small manageable tasks, just like clearing clutter indoors. Tackle one area at a time. You will be surprised at how many weeds you can pull in ten minutes. Seriously, count sometime! Rest in-between and remember to stay hydrated! A garden hat and some sunglasses and sunscreen are good equipment to have too!
The “great” indoors brought outside: How are your lawn ornaments and decorations doing? Are you so accustomed to some of them that you don’t even see and enjoy them any more? Are there others that are broken or rusty? What about your patio and lawn furniture? Do they need a bath? A fresh coat of paint? Replacement? Maybe even elimination if you own more than you actually use?
The in-between areas: These include entry doors and doorsills, entryways, and car and garage clutter. Entries can sometimes benefit from cleaning and fresh paint. Entryways can be lightened up with brighter paint or more lighting or a mirror to reflect more light. Use the warm days to clean the car inside and out on the driveway—you will thank yourself during your next drive to work.
Garage interiors can benefit from clutter clearing too. Sweep them out. Donate unused planters, pots, and yard furniture. Wipe down doorsills. Eliminate what you don’t use. Improve garage lighting and storage if you can. A bright space is easier to work in and to use. Cabinets and shelving are awesome. There are many more garage storage products available now compared to even just a few years ago. Take a peek.
If I can’t persuade you to tackle out-door clutter this summer. Don’t sweat it. Summer is made for out-door relaxing, activities, and, above all, fun! So get outside and enjoy! Sit outside instead of inside. Look around you! The days will get shorter and winter will return soon enough! Right?
Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life (O Books, 2010), a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips that readers can pick and choose from to fit their personal style and needs. She also is a breast cancer and melanoma survivor who wrote Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We’ll get you through this. Sign up for her free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.