7 Tips to Declutter and Organize Your House

The holidays are but a distant memory and, after putting all the Christmas decorations away the house is pretty much back to normal. Except that Santa and the family were once again generous so there’s a lot more new stuff we have to contend with and find a place to display or store.

The beginning of a new year is often the best time to take stock of what you’ve got, what you use on a regular basis and whether you even need to hold on to something any longer. There’s new stuff that’s been acquired over the holidays so why not get rid of the old to make room for the new? Personally I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying my space if there’s clutter or no proper home for something. For me, mess causes stress.  I can’t walk into a room and enjoy the space. So taking some time to purge and organize really helps me to live the zen-like existence I’ve always longed for (insert loud, sarcastic laugh here).

Where to start? At the beginning silly. Here are some tips to help get organized.

1. Start small. You can’t tackle it all in one day so set yourself a schedule of what you are going to tackle first. Maybe it’s an hour a day or week that you tackle, say organizing a drawer or cleaning out a medicine cabinet. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you devote that 1 hour to that task. By keeping it small and manageable you minimize the chance you will get frustrated and give up.

2. Start one ‘job’ at a time. Stay focused on the task at hand. If you really need to declutter and better organize a certain room don’t get distracted with other things. The last thing you want is to have a few organization/declutter projects going on at the same time. The satisfaction of completing one task – no matter how small – will keep you motivated to move on to the next one.

3. Create a keep, donate and trash pile. As you pick up an item ask yourself, “Have I used this in the last year?” “Does it have sentimental value?” “Could someone else put this to better use?” Does this even work anymore?” How you answer these questions will determine which pile the items goes into. It seems simple enough but for some folks (like me) it can be a challenge to really let go of some things and not convince yourself you will need it some time in the distant future. Once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of sorting things, be sure to trash the trash pile and donate or sell the donate pile. With the pared down keep pile you can now better organize, store and display your items.

3. Get everybody involved – including the kids. Make a game out of it or consider a family reward at the end of it (anybody for a pizza party?). If you are purging old toys or clothes to make way for new ones, this is a great time to remind your kids how fortunate they really are. Note everyone has the luxury of new toys or brand name clothes to wear and understanding that these items will be donated to someone else to enjoy is a great way to instill a sense of community and appreciation. Perhaps this will become a memory for the Memory Jar?

4. Tackle the closets. Sigh, the place where hopes and dreams go to die. This is the hardest for me because I truly believe that something will come back in style or it will, one day, I know it will, fit me again. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Anyway, you have to get rid of the clothes that don’t fit, are ripped, can’t be repaired or are no longer on trend (ie. stylish!?!) If you haven’t worn it in a year, chances are you aren’t going to wear it again. The same things goes for shoes. There’s no point in keeping something if it’s taking up much needed space. Once you’ve purged you can put everything back in an organized manner – ie. by size, colour, season or occasion like work clothes or casual wear. Being able to actually see what’s in your closet will also help to minimize the dreaded question, “What am I going to wear?”

5. Once it’s organized, keep it organized. Make a point to clean something up or put something away right away. Don’t let it around. It will be easier to do this after all the hard work you put into getting it spiffy in the first place.

6. Don’t forget to declutter your budget. January is a perfect time to do this because you just ended a year. Going through your budget at the beginning of the year also gets you ahead for tax season time. Set up pre-authorized payments now and reap the benefits in December. Review what you are paying every month and think about where you might make any adjustments or changes. Learn more about the family budget here.

This week I’m tackling my junk drawer. In our house everything accumulates here: scrap paper for notes, elastics, pens, pencils, markers, tape, random screws, rulers, candles…. It’s time to clean it up!



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