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Housing expert reveals her 5 super hacks for hassle-free spring decluttering

In a sea of decluttering hacks, these stand out.

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips
Representative Image from Canva

Spring cleaning really can be a fun refresh. Here's how.

If you’re itching to declutter around this time of year, you’re not alone. According to the American Cleaning Institute, 80% of Americans plan to spring clean this year, which is a more than a 10% increase from just 3 years ago. Guess all that working from home will do that to ya.

However, just because many of us are participating in spring cleaning, that doesn't mean we’ll be maximizing it. With the constant decision making, plus the emotional toll at letting go, it’s a daunting task that can leave folks feeling drained, rather than refreshed.

But with a few small tweaks, spring cleaning really can be the cathartic, freeing activity we long for it to be.

Sofia Vyshnevska, a housing expert and co-founder at NewHomesMate, shared her 5 ultimate life hacks for easy and hassle-free spring decluttering. Try one—or all—of these super simple strategies for a clean home and a clear mind.

The Reverse Hanger Trick

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

This is such a cool way of honing a personal style too.

Representative Image from Canva

In a sea of wardrobe decluttering hacks, this one stands out for how it “effortlessly streamlines your wardrobe,” says Sofia.

Here’s how it works: turn all your closet hangers backwards at the start of spring and only turn back those you wear throughout the season. Once summer nears, go through your clothing and donate or sell any items that are still facing backwards. You can even rinse and repeat this throughout the year.

Considering that so many of us have way too many clothes that we don’t actually use, this trick could really come in handy for gleaning the pieces that actually suit our taste and lifestyle.

“If you’ve gone months without picking it out, chances are you never will.”

The Four-Box Method

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Because our brains can't do all the compartmentalizing.

Representative Image from Canva

Ever gotten halfway through an organizing frenzy when that adrenaline suddenly wears off and you’re sitting in a pile of random stuff with no idea what to do? This is a great way to keep that compartmentalizing going even when the motivation disappears.

Sort everything you own into four boxes: keep, donate/sell, trash, and relocate.

Much like Marie Kondo, Sofia advises to “make quick decisions and don’t let sentimental value cloud your judgment” and you’ll have a clutter-free home in no time.

And if sentimentality is clouding your judgment and making parting with things difficult, read on…

The Rehoming Hack

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

“You’ll likely realize that you didn’t miss these items and letting them go isn’t so hard after all.”

Representative Image from Canva

This is a great way to discover what really should be taking up space in your heart, and your home.

“Whenever you find an item you no longer love, but feel you should hold on to, place it in an empty box and, once full, put it away out of sight. Give it a few weeks, then go back and sort through them again,” Sofia suggests. “You’ll likely realize that you didn’t miss these items and letting them go isn’t so hard after all.”

And if there’s still some hesitation, you could also take a photo of these items and create an album which takes up a lot less space while still giving you all the joy the actual item previously did.

Tactical Tidying

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Instant gratification can be a great tool.

Representative Image from Canva

It can be tempting to start our spring cleaning by delving into the messy pantry or tucked away storage areas, but with “tactical tidying,” you go for the most visible areas first. That way you’re “constantly reminded of the difference it makes, which will provide the motivation you need to get the job done,” instead of tired and deflated in a couple of hours.

Zone-Based Decluttering

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

Don't try to do it all at once.

Representative Image from Canva

Zone-based decluttering also helps us avoid the all-too-common “decluttering fatigue,” explains Sofia. Rather that trying to cram all the cleaning into a single weekend, spread out each room, or zone, throughout a couple of days.

Here’s an example of what zone-based decluttering might look like.

“Start by removing debris and organizing your patio furniture to get your outside space ready for the warmer weather. Tomorrow, get to work on the kitchen—clear the countertops, tidy your cabinets and clean out the refrigerator. Next week? Tackle the storage spaces, organize your electronics, and scrub your upholstery. Then on to your bedrooms, where you need to declutter your nightstand, change your bedding, and switch out your winter wardrobe.”

It’s easy to see how this helps us actually go through the clutter without subjecting ourselves to burnout. Cause at the end of the day, spring cleaning should be energizing, right?

As a bonus, Sofia added some thoughts on the four main types of clutter and how to remove them in a way that good for us and for the planet:

  • Clothing: You might not want it, but there’s likely someone who does. Don’t toss it in the trash until you’ve checked whether local charities, shelters, or thrift stores will take it off your hands.
  • Electronics: Don’t make your clutter the planet’s problem. Recycle any unwanted electronics through a certified e-waste recycling center to avoid causing environmental harm.
  • Furniture: if it’s in usable condition, sell it online or donate it to a charity, shelter, or community center. Otherwise, contact local waste management to find out how to dispose of or, better yet, recycle it.
  • Non-perishable food: Don’t do the easiest thing; do the right thing. Rather than throwing it away, food banks, shelters, and community organizations will happily take any food you don’t want.

Lastly, but very important in today's world—let’s talk about the importance of digital decluttering.

spring cleaning, decluttering, cleaning tips

"Once you’re done spring cleaning your home, it’s time to clear your inbox and clean your desktop.”

Representative Image from Canva

Walter Gjergja, Shaolin Temple secular monk, mindfulness and well-being expert, and co-founder of the personal trainer app Zing Coach, wisely notes:

"Clutter doesn’t just invade our space; it invades our minds too.…those with cluttered lives tend to procrastinate on important tasks — and digital clutter is no exception. Once you’re done spring cleaning your home, it’s time to clear your inbox and clean your desktop.”

To do this, Gjergja suggests deleting unimportant emails, organizing your files and uploading any you don’t frequently need to cloud storage, plus deleting any unused apps from your home screen.

“You’ll be surprised just how much decluttering your digital space can free up the mind."

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.


How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17