As the new year approaches, many of us find ourselves inspired to make positive changes. One way to kickstart this process is to refresh our living and working spaces. Whether you overhaul your home, office or another place where you spend your time, a new year provides the perfect opportunity to declutter, redecorate and reorganize. This process not only revitalizes your surroundings, but it also rejuvenates your mindset — fostering a sense of optimism and renewal.
Let’s delve into two different ways to think about organizing so you can kickstart the new year on a lighter, brighter note.
ORGANIZE BY CATEGORY
Organizing and tidying by category was popularized by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author of the bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” The first step of this method involves grouping everything throughout your home by type — for example, clothing, books, paperwork, electronics, miscellaneous items, sentimental items, etc.
The next step is to discard. Kondo’s famous question is to ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If so, then keep it. If not, it’s time to let it go.
For the items that make the cut, proper folding and storage save space and let you see everything in one glance. Kondo emphasizes the use of vertical space as well.
She also suggests decluttering and tidying in one go — dedicating a day, or even a weekend, to the process — to get the most dramatic, lasting results.
ORGANIZING BY ROOM
Organizing by room or dedicated space is another way to divest your life of clutter, making things simpler and easier for you and your family.
Start by removing everything from your space. Clearing it out lets you see all the items that space was holding, and you may be surprised when you get a fresh perspective on the space and its possibilities.
This is where you can implement some of Kondo’s strategies. If you have not used or touched an item in the past year, why keep it? If the item is stained, worn out or broken, get rid of it. Make five piles while decluttering: keep, relocate, sell, donate or discard. Remember that you can have the space or the stuff, but not both.
NOW, PUT THINGS BACK IN THEIR PLACE
Once you have decluttered and are ready to assemble your space, it’s important to group items together. Grouping similar items together allows you to choose the best organization method — bins, boxes, stackables, drawer organizers, etc.
Pro tip: Use bins inside of trays or other bins. This allows everything to have a very specific space. You can easily label your items to ensure they can be found and returned to their place with ease.
No matter which decluttering and organization method you choose, now comes the hardest part: retraining your brain to put things back where they belong after you use them. This step is important and ongoing, as it allows you to see the benefits of everything you’ve accomplished and makes your daily life much easier and less chaotic.
Finally, remember that decluttering is not a one-time project; it’s an ongoing process. Using the one in, one out rule is a great way to avoid bringing excess into your home (every time you bring something in, you must put something out). To have some fun with this otherwise daunting task, turn on some music, make some snacks and keep reminding yourself how much less stressed and more productive you will be in your decluttered environment.
QUICK TIPS FOR TOUGH AREAS
We all know the places where clutter seems to collect the most, so here are some quick tips for those catch-all areas:
- Empty your closet completely, taking out all the clothes, shoes and accessories
- As you evaluate each item, ask yourself if it still fits, if you love wearing it and if it aligns with your current style
- If it’s stained, torn, worn or doesn’t fit, discard. Be ruthless in letting go of items that no longer serve you, either by donating them to charity or selling them online
- If you find yourself overwhelmed by clothes but don’t want to let go of some pieces, here’s a helpful technique to streamline your wardrobe: Turn all your hangers backward, and as you wear an item, hang it back up with the hanger facing forward. At the end of the year, take stock of the hangers that are still backward and consider parting ways with those untouched pieces. If you haven’t worn them in a year, chances are you won’t miss them.
- You can sort clothes by type, color or season and invest in storage solutions like bins, shelves or hanging organizers to maximize space.
- Make sure to label everything clearly to make it easier to find things later.
- As you return items to your closet, consider arranging them in a way that sparks joy and inspires you.
Establish a routine for regularly maintaining your organized closet, setting aside time each month to reassess and declutter.
- Segment organizing into cabinets, fridge and pantry.
- Put your essentials front and center — i.e, soap, olive oil, salt and pepper, paper towels, etc.
- Organize your plastic containers. If they are cracked, broken or missing parts, discard.
- Streamline your plastic bags. Even if you reuse them as liners for smaller trash cans, place them in one space and contain them.
- Clean out your fridge and create designated spaces for food products using clear bins. Use interior cabinet racks for your plates, bowls and cups
- Declutter your utensil drawer. Remove your traditional knife block and store in a drawer if you have space to open up your useable counter space.
- If you have kids, create a kid-only cabinet.
- Use clear or wire storage to easily see the products you have in your pantry and in your cabinets.
- Use hooks throughout the kitchen (fridge, walls, the backs of cabinet doors) to hang items if you are lacking in space