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Do you find yourself looking at the pristine, neat and tidy homes in magazines and on Pinterest and find yourself thinking, “My home could never look that way.”? It’s time to think again. January is National Get Organized Month and to celebrate I have compiled a 31-day guide to help you get organized for real this year.
So here’s how even the most chaotic home can become a more organized one, and the steps are broken down into easy, manageable daily chunks so that you never get exhausted or overworked.
Days 1-5: Getting Started
We’re going to ease into all this. Start with these easy, refreshing home organization fixes and by day 5 you will crave a big decluttering spree.
Day 1: From anywhere in the house, fill one trash bag with junk. Then, toss it all or donate it.
Day 2: Take 5-7 items that have no home, and find a place for them. These are usually things that you use every day, but don’t that have a place of their own. Here’s one of an organized home’s greatest rules: everything should have a place. And this step is a great way to get started.
Day 3: Pick a counter – kitchen or bathroom – and clear away all the clutter. Another big tip for organizing your home: every flat surface should be free of clutter.
Day 4: Clear off a shelf, any shelf. Keep five of your most display-worthy items and donate the rest, or at least set them aside for storage (but keep in mind that you want to simplify, not end up needing to rent a storage unit).
Day 5: Today it’s time to create a strategy for the rest of the month. We will walk you through general ways to remove clutter in every room, but you have to take note of what the personal clutter “hot spots” are in your home.
The back door table? Your master bathroom? Your new home office? All the aforementioned? Take note of the spaces that you need to declutter the most, and set organizational deadlines.
Today is also the day to create boxes for keeping, donating, and storing. If you are susceptible to separation anxiety – in other words you find it really hard to part with stuff at all – make a box called a “maybe”box.
Store things here when you can’t quite make yourself throw them away. Pull it back out after 6 months-if you haven’t been thinking about an object too much, that means you can throw it out. This should not be a big box though, it’s for those things that you really struggle to make a decision on, not every piece of clutter in your home.
Days 6 -8 The Bedroom(s)
Day 6: Take everything out from inside all your bedroom drawers. Donate it if you have not used it, read it, or worn it in a year. Put it in an “elsewhere” bin if it does not belong in the bedroom and put the collected objects in their rightful places when you’re finished.
Day 7: Now that you’ve cleaned up drawer space, concentrate on your bedroom surfaces like the bedside table, TV stand, vanity, etc. Donate objects that are no longer valuable; restrict yourself to only displaying five items on each surface.
Day 8: Inspect underneath the bed and declutter what you find there. This will clear up space for seasonal clothes and shoes.
Days 9 and 10 – Your Closet
9th Day: Get rid of clothes and shoes that haven’t been worn in the past year, that don’t match or that have been damaged. As for things of sentimental value, you’re not a bad person to throw that bridesmaid dress you had to buy for your best friend’s wedding away.
Snap a photo and then donate it. Remember that memories exist in your brain – and in your iCloud storage if you like – and they don’t reside in a piece of fabric.
10th Day: Put it all in its place. You should make sure all of your favorite clothes and shoes are accessible now that you’ve cleared up space. Organize tops, pants, skirts etc. by style, and shoes by occasion. Stow away under your bed any seasonal clothes – bathing suits, bulky coats – until it’s their time of year to be showcased.
Days 11 to 14 – The Kitchen
Day 11: Tackle the cabinet with all the Tupperware. You know the one I mean. The one you are REALLY ashamed of. You can’t do something practical with it until you’re able to open this almost infinite cave without risking a plastic-container-waterfall pouring down on your head! And the approach is straightforward. Throw away any single container with no matching lid, and any single lid with no matching container.
Day 12: Set obsolete appliances aside. Throw it away or donate it if it’s not working or if you haven’t used it in over a year. Or if you have two – or three – of the same thing. The same goes for pots and pans, but you don’t need eight sheet pans; keep the ones you use every day.
Day 13: Declutter the fridge and pantry in your kitchen. Get rid of all those random condiments (they DO expire) that you purchased three years ago and spices that have seen better days. Donate the cookbooks that you’ve never cracked open while you’re at it. You can always find recipes online you know.
Day 14: Clean off your kitchen countertops now that you’ve got all that extra room. Again limit yourself to five products per surface. Store extras you only use occasionally – espresso machine, George Foreman grill – in your newly clutter-free pantry.
Days 15 to 17: Your Home Office
Day 15: Start with all the papers you’ve been piling up. Do a quick sort into “to file,” “to do,” and “to toss.” piles. Then, file your documents in a way that makes sense to you. You’ll need a method. I detailed one here last year that will work for most people.
When throwing away confidential personal data and valuable documents, be wary. A decent rule of thumb is seven years, if you need a cut-off date to hold semi-important records as that is the length of time lawyers and doctors are legally required to keep their own records.
Day 16: Now that the surface of your desk can be seen, it is time to de-clutter it. Although displaying your knick-knacks is tempting, keep it in check and limit yourself to five pieces. Throw away stuff you haven’t used in more than a year (you don’t need four mini staplers), and set aside stuff you want to hold onto.
Day 17: Clean your desk drawers out. Once you get rid of the stuff you don’t need (last year’s calendar, expired coupons) Take stock of your supplies and buy organizers for desk drawers that will suit the stuff you have left. Buy the way, never buy containers for storage before you know what you need to store in them.
Days 18 and 19 Your Bathroom(s)
Day 18: Don’t be intimidated, but I advise that all your bathrooms be decluttered at once, so that you can take an accurate inventory of all those long-lost soaps and lotions that you have forgotten and maybe swap a few things between bathrooms if and where it makes sense.
Clear all of your drawers, shower caddies, shelves, etc., and wipe them down. Throw away what’s expired, what’s nearly empty (which you don’t use), what your grandma gave you five years ago for your birthday and the overwhelmingly scented coconut bath bomb you saw on Instagram that looked cool but smells dreadful. The same goes for medication and cosmetics.
Day 19: Group like things together, and put them in their place. This could entail the purchase of a new drawer storage system, but a clean bathroom makes for a happier, easier life for everyone.
Clean off bathroom counters and clear out shower caddies. And yes, that five object limit applies here as well.
Days 20 to 22: The Living Room
Day 20: As in any room in your home that is used frequently, things and ‘stuff’ tends to collect in the family room. Go through the room and put back items that have wandered from their homes in other rooms back into their proper places.
Day 21: Take a realistic look at your décor in the living room. Is it overcrowded and cluttered? Too many throw pillows, coffee table books, video games or picture frames? Clear off surfaces, leaving only the décor items you’ve purposefully chosen (and yes, no more than five)
Day 22: Make a plan to store smart. In the living room, there are many useful items that you do need, and that enhance your enjoyment of the space; the trick is to find advanced storage solutions to keep them hidden but still handy.
Days 23-25: The Laundry Room
Day 23: Spend today designating generously sized – and clearly marked – bins for everyday washes, delicates, darks, and whites etc. to keep clothes from piling up on the floor and prevent laundry disasters.
You can use this new system to try to ensure that others pitch in to help with the household laundry. Even small kids can use these bins if you use images rather than words to mark them.
Day 24: Clean up your laundry and cleaning supplies. Use cabinets, baskets, and wire containers to organize these essentail but bulky supplies according to how often you use them. Keep detergent and other daily-use items in clear glass containers for sophisticated storage that doesn’t take up cabinet space and that will help keep them fresh.
Day 25: Tackle the dreaded sock bin. Honestly, consider throwing it away and starting from scratch. And, for sanity’s sake, throw away the socks that don’t have matches.
Days 26-29: The Garage, Basement and/or Attic
Day 26: Divide the space you will be decluttering into sections. This way you will have an idea of what you have, and these smaller sections will help you not feel so frustrated and overwhelmed, especially if there is a lot to clear.
Day 27: Completely clear the space section by section. Divide the stuff into “keep” “toss” or “give away.” This is the one time people really get stuck, as a trip through the attic or basement can reveal things that have been lost for years, but may hold some serious significance. In this case refer back to my earlier advice from closet decluttering day.
Days 28-29: Group related items together, and assess your inventory. When you get to the container size decisions, you need to get the right size. Next, sort, stack, and label. Be amazed by what you have achieved and give yourself a treat. Pack away what you are keeping, and then begin stacking your chosen containers neatly and efficently.
Day 30: The Mail
Now that you’ve created a place for everything and everything is in its place, this is actually kind of fun.
Rather than letting the mail pile up on your newly organized and clutter-free counters, sort through it, and then resolve to on a minimum of a weekly basis. Unsubscribe from useless catalogs, and separate the rest into bills, personal, invitations, charity, etc.
Day 31: Chill and Admire Your Work
On the 31st day sit back and bask in the glory of your organized and simplified home. Resolve to set aside 20 minutes every day for sorting mail and putting things in their place; don’t buy things just because they are on sale; and remember how great having an organized home feels.
Still need help? Have more to declutter than you can handle alone? Just Organized by Taya can help. We’ll work through the decluttering process alongside you and, at the same time, teach you new and efficient ways to stay organized, especially if there is more than just you are living in the home. Book a home organization appointment here and get started today. It’s one of the most useful gifts you could give yourself this new year, as is an organized home.