Can you believe it – a new year has come! Whether you’re prepared for it or not, there is still time to start the new year right by calming the chaos in your life through organization and planning.
I personally love to organize. However, let’s be real – life happens. Especially during the holiday season, whether we intend to or not, our lives become overwhelmed with paper, trinkets, and little things that accumulate and crowd out what is truly important and worthy of our time and energy. The bigger the mess, though, the greater that sense of liberation when we tackle the build-up and clear out the clutter!
I often choose January as an annual check-in to reassess my level of organization and clear out the mess that has grown over the past year. This year, my plan is to devote the entire month to cleaning, decluttering, and reorganizing. Nothing is being left out – my rooms and office are getting the gut as well as all that digital clutter that’s collected on my hard drives and computers! Below I’ll share my three-step game plan for getting things into shape and hopefully inspire you to give it a go for yourself! Now, who’s with me?
Declutter – Designate – Decorate
Step 1 – DECLUTTER
There’s no point in organizing junk. Go through every drawer, cupboard, under bed space, box, etc. and divide what you find into three categories: KEEP (which will stay where it is – for now), TRASH (which will go into a large black garbage bag), and DONATE (which will go into a box to take to a consignment shop, charity, or to anyone else who may find the stuff useful!). To keep your momentum going, have another box for CONSIDER, as a place to put things into temporarily if you can’t immediately decide whether to toss or keep. Go through that box later, after you have given yourself time to think about those items a bit more. The only requirement is that you do decide what to do with the items before moving on to the next steps!
If you have trouble letting go of some things, it may be helpful to ask some questions. Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Does it add value to my life? If an item is not useful, beautiful, or valuable, then it probably needs to be released. If it’s in good condition, someone else will probably make use of it; if it’s seen better days, then it’s time to toss/recycle.
Again, the goal here is the air things out. Depending on the amount of stuff you have stockpiled, this may take a day to an entire week to edit. Get help if you need it and work when you’re in a good mood! Turn on some music, grab a cup of hot chocolate or tea, and start filling those boxes and garbage bags! Tackle your spaces one by one, sweeping through the room from one end to the other.
Step 2 – DESIGNATE
Now that the clutter part is taken care of, it’s time to assess what’s left and organize it into a functional and practical system that will practically run itself! Again, it’s easiest to go room by room and focus on one area of the room at a time.
Use boxes, baskets, and good quality containers – and label them! Try to use similarly styled organizing units in matching or the same colours for an aesthetically pleasing result.
Some practical tips when it comes to organizing:
Keep “like” with “like” – as much as possible, keep your printer(s) and printing supplies in the same area; coral all your binders, manuals, and user guides in one location; designate a paint drawer for all your paints, brushes, and dishes; keep all your spices and condiments together, etc.
Similarly, create “zones” for main activities – i.e. a “craft zone” for all the crafting and DIY materials, a “laundry zone” for all things clothes and cleaning, a “work centre” for your computer, printer, and work-related materials, a “command zone” where the family calendar and lists are, etc.
Give priority to frequently used items – if you use it or need to access it on a regular basis, place it where you can easily reach it and put it away again; reserve high and inconvenient storage locations for the seasonal or rarely used items.
Step 3 – DECORATE
This is the fun part! Although having things tidy and organized automatically looks better, every space needs a few little somethings to take it up a notch and add that touch of personality, warmth, and style. Inject colour and texture by using art, pillows, decorations, new paint, light fixtures – whatever you think your space needs to make you feel comfortable and relaxed, because, in the long run, organization is a form of self-care that has huge benefits for your mental, physical, emotional, and relational health!
Let’s make this new year a clutter-free one!