When spring is in the air, I get the urge to turn over a new leaf. Along with the annual rebirth of nature, I plan to renew my house, office, files and affairs. That means spring-cleaned, thinned out and organized.

Sounds simple?

Well, it’s not. I’ve made this courageous pledge before, only to get bogged down in my stuff and my family’s stuff, and what I should do with it.

Here’s some advice to make your spring-cleaning and organizing more effective:

• Decide how much cleaning and organizing you need.

• Schedule the work. You may work best by dividing work incrementally or doing it in a big chunk, but build it into your schedule.

• To avoid getting overwhelmed, do obvious areas first (surfaces and the floor throughout the home), and do not get bogged down in too much detail work too early.

• Tackle drawers full of junk or bottomless files later, room by room.

• Remember that now is not the time to finish that unfinished project.

• When you work through things, create piles of items that need to be put away in that room, and then put them away.

• Be ruthless when you decide what to keep and not to keep. Stick to items that you need and use. Get rid of things that have been sitting around gathering dust.

• Art, knick-knacks or mementoes should only be kept to the few that you find meaningful or beautiful.

• All things in your home should have a place. For easy storing and retrieval, remember to label boxes, files and shelves.

• If the organizing work you need to do is overwhelming, break the job down and tackle it piece by piece. You may seek help, but set the rules or you’ll be forever searching for stuff, or “reorganizing.”

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.