The New Year is viewed by many as a fertile time to reinvest in becoming a better person with admirably better habits, which is why so many resolutions are made regarding budgeting, fitness, and self care. Because of this timely flurry of self-improvement, it’s odd that most Americans don’t consider decluttering and organizing their living spaces as being worthy of a New Year’s resolution.
While the changeover from winter to spring is the most popular time for Americans to spruce up their spaces, the New Year is actually a very fitting time as well. Here is a look at some of the reasons why — and some of the means as to how — you should catch the decluttering bug now.
New Year, New You, New Space
Even if you’ve never been a hearty resolution maker and keeper in the past, the New Year can still function as both an impetus and a path toward a less chaotic space. By harnessing the energy of a brand-new calendar year and any post-holiday desire to get off the couch, stop eating so much, and get something done, you can turn over a new leaf by remaking your space.
Start first on the cluttered parts of your house or apartment that affect you on a daily basis — a messy home office, a garage teeming with so many unnecessary items you can’t even park in it — and keep only what you truly need and use. Don’t stop until you’ve organized so well that you even managed to donate that old boat sitting at the curb. You’ll feel amazed at how much your lack of clutter makes your space — and you — feel brand-new.
Set a Goal. Make a Plan.
If a complete and unstructured overhaul feels too overwhelming, don’t worry. Think of a single goal that will make your 2016 run more smoothly. Are you overrun by toys in every room of your home? Set a goal confining your children’s toys to a single room. Then, organize that single room accordingly. Set up shelving or baskets that will assist in keeping that space decluttered, and be sure to get rid of anything and everything they no longer use.
Is your closet a hopeless mess? Go through all your clothing and shoes, and set aside everything you haven’t worn in the last year. Then, update your closet’s organization scheme to accommodate what you’re keeping. If you need a new dresser, buy one. If your hangers are faulty or scant, find new ones at your local thrift or department store. Whatever goal you set, don’t just declutter; reorganize the space you’ve improved with enough storage to keep it organized for years to come.
After Holiday Excess, Give Excess Away
If your family is big on gift giving around the holidays, you’ve probably built up quite a bit of excess over the years, and that excess is what leads to clutter. Now that the holidays have passed, if you’re really serious about an efficient and organized space, it’s time to institute a new post-holiday rule for you and your family: For every gift received over the holidays that is going to be kept, two similar items must be donated to charity.
While it may seem Draconian at the outset, what the rule actually encourages is thoughtfulness about whether or not what was received is something actually wanted or needed. If it is, great! Give two things away to make room for it. If it isn’t something wanted or needed badly enough to justify getting rid of two items already owned, then the gift itself can be donated. Either way, you put a limit on the clutter that tends to gather after a season of gifting.
Set a Time Limit
One reason attempts to organize and declutter a space often fail is because doing so can become a rabbit hole from which it’s difficult to escape. If you’ve gotten bogged down in the details before, do yourself a favor this New Year, and set a time limit on just how long you can work on a cleaning up project.
Limit yourself to 15 minutes at a time. Take a break to do something else, and then, if you need to, give yourself another 15 minutes. While it may seem like those short bursts of activity will delay productivity, they can actually help you keep your eye on the overall decluttering forest even in the midst of all those pesky trees.
So don’t wait until March or April to try and organize your space. Tackle the clutter and chaos of your home right now while the positive energy of the New Year is still readily available.