Today is the first day of spring and some Iowans may get the urge to open the windows and start cleaning after months of having the furnace blow dust around the house. JoAnn Hesse of Des Moines calls herself a professional organizer. Her business takes her around central Iowa, helping people declutter their lives.
Hesse says if you need a little prodding to start spring cleaning, don’t try to tackle everything at once. “I would suggest, so they’re not overwhelmed by it, that they pick an area, the basement, the garage, bedrooms, whatever, and a time they’re going to start, put a goal together and then stick with it,” Hesse says. “When they finish that area, pick another one and start over.”
Hesse says she’s something of a cheerleader for her clients as they try to organize their houses and lives. She encourages strict adherence to what she calls the Two Year Rule for anything tucked in a corner or closet. “If you haven’t worn it, if you haven’t used it, if it doesn’t work and if you haven’t thought about it, get rid of it,” Hesse says. “Create the donate pile, the toss pile — that’s the good old black garbage bags — the keep pile and the sell pile.”
As you complete the spring cleaning chore in each room, you’ll have the stacks ready to be hauled to the curb, to the Salvation Army or to a garage sale. If you’re a senior citizen and you’ve been saving items for your family or loved ones, Hesse has another bit of advice.”Go ahead and ask them if they want it now,” Hesse says. “If they do, go ahead and give it to them. That’ll free up space, get it out of the house and they’ll be able to use it and enjoy it while you’re around and can appreciate the gift. You might be surprised and they might say, ‘We really aren’t interested in that.’ That’ll give you the green light to go ahead and dispose of it.”
For caregivers, dispose of old medications, shred no-longer-needed personal documents and remove clutter to improve mobility. Hesse spent decades as a realtor, helping home-sellers to make their houses look presentable. Now she runs the Des Moines-based business, Too Much Stuff.