I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Starting the New Year fresh…and clean.

By Jennie Atkins

Every year about this time, as Christmas decorations come down and all the ornaments are nestled into their year-long storage, I start my annual ritual of not-quite-spring spring cleaning. Instead of focusing on a New Year’s resolutions I won’t keep, I have learned to set my house straight for the upcoming year.

As well as benefiting from a clean house it helps me in other ways:
  1. It increases my efficiency. By getting rid of all those stacks of old correspondence (including my e-mail in box), books I no longer need, and the junk filling my drawers and closets, I have found it makes it easier for me to find things later
  2. It helps me find forgotten items. How many times have you set something down and forgotten it, only to find it months later hidden in some drawer or basket? Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly messy or unorganized, it’s easy for any number of things to slip through the cracks while trying to write, maintain family order, and do your dreaded day job.
  3. It removes visual distractions. For me, a clean desk, office, and home ensure that I’m not distracted by a bunch of clutter. It helps me focus on the task at hand. My writing! 
  4. Easy on the eyes is easy on the mind. A large part of interior design is focused on giving spaces a specific atmosphere. The atmosphere influences people kind of like a mirror. A peaceful space creates a peaceful atmosphere where people feel at ease. A colorful and dynamic space creates a vivid atmosphere and sparks creativity in people. A clean and tidy space creates an atmosphere without distractions and stress and supports people being focused.  Believe me--it works!
  5. It increases usable closet, drawer and desk space. Clearing out the junk helps me maintain order and gives me the ability to complete any future task with the most convenience. No piles of paper are consuming space and no piles things-I-don't-need tumbling from my closets.  
  6. I gain a sense of accomplishment. Don't forget that cleaning up simply feels good and you can see tangible results afterward.
So before you all label me a neat-freak—I’m not. Believe me—I. Am. Not. However, I have found that taking a couple of weeks out of my new year has its benefits all year long. Plus, it lets me concentrate on my writing the rest of the time. 

Now it’s your turn: Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, how do you jump start your new year? What season do you do your spring cleaning? And how does it affect your writing?

Almost two years ago Jennie and her husband of thirty-seven years packed up their home in Ohio and moved twenty-four-hundred miles west to Carson City, Nevada. There she manages a team of software engineers for a large corporation. When she isn't learning the fine art of growing anything in the desert sand, or mesmerized by the view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains from her front porch, she works on her latest manuscript.


  1. Jennie,
    I've never thought to do a spring clean after Christmas. What a great idea, especially since so much stuff gets added to my kids collections at that time.

    Peaceful atmosphere to work in -- so very true. I cannot work in a cluttered area. I blame it on my stepmom :-)


  2. Once Christmas is over, I'm quite ready to put the tree and trimmings away in order to start the new year with a clean, uncluttered house. In my spare time, I've been working with a friend to purge my basement. Oh my. What a job! Not just with the clutter, but the emotional attachment too. But purging is good for the soul. It gives freedom from guilt, freedom from things and freedom for new.

    Great post, Jennie!!

  3. Spring Cleaning? Me? You do know the psychiatrists say a well adjusted person isn't bothered by clutter, don't you? My bf says I'm very well adjusted. lol

    I tend to clean the week before company arrives. However, I try and keep my office fairly decluttered. Great post, Jennie.

  4. Very nice, Jennie. You must have peeked at my desk. We recently spruced up house for home evaluation, but lots got piled on my out-of-sight desk. Now to gradually dig it out and find treasures . . .

  5. I am not a neat freak ... but I do occasionally beat back the piles (which are usually placed in fun baskets.)
    And this Christmas (well, after this Christmas), I went through my boxes of Christmas decorations and thinned them out -- sending stuff I rarely use or couldn't remember why I got them in the first place to the thrift store. It felt good to have empty storage boxes when I was done!

  6. Um, spring cleaning? What's that? :) Seriously, though, you make good points. Before I began writing, I used to think of myself as organized. This skill has gradually taken a backseat to the time focusing on writing. I took a few weeks off in December and caught up on some piles. I'm also trying to establish some good habits so I can stay more on top of the piles that seem to grow daily.

    And, yes, I always LOVE the feeling of a clutter-free area. I loved your post today. Thanks, Jennie.

  7. We did an unintentional spring cleaning to begin our New Year since we had new carpet put down. Everything, and I mean everything, had to be picked up, removed, cleaned, tidied, and finally put back in place. It was a lot of work, but so nice to have everything so clean.

  8. Alena,
    I can only blame my pack-rat father who couldn't throw even broken things away. I vowed to never be like that...so far I've succeeded! LOL

  9. Lisa,
    We went through that prior to moving to Nevada. I am amazed at how much "stuff" I threw away that at one time I once thought was so important to purchase. It makes me stop and think before I buy anything now.

  10. Pat,
    I agree you are well adjusted. Spring cleaning is not for everyone!

  11. Dee,
    There were days when my husband and I were first married when his parents would come to visit. He'd throw everything...I mean everything...into the laundryroom that he thought was clutter. I'd spend the whole next day clearing out the piles!

  12. Beth,
    I do agree that having extra space/boxes is sometimes refreshing.

  13. Jeanne,
    Its amazing how fast the piles can build up, that's why I figure if I do a thorough run through of everything at the first of the year...I don't have to feel guilty. (Its kind of like exercising before eating dessert.)

  14. Teri,
    We did the same thing when we moved into our house in Nevada. We only had our bed and whatever necessities set up and for two weeks we painted every room in the house and put down new carpeting. It really made it nice.

  15. Jennie,
    I appreciate your post. Clutter drains me. I cleaned my youngest son's room and under-the-stairs closet right after Christmas. It felt great. My never ending problem is what to through away of all youngest son's art. He goes huge amounts of paper. But I used to pay an occupational therapist for him, so just buying art supplies is much cheaper. ;-)