New Year's Resolution: Conquer Your Clutter
Start the New Year out right with these simple and practical tips for organizing your home.
With the holidays officially over, it’s time for the winter doldrums. The idea of some quiet time is a welcome thought — at least initially. A time to catch your breath sounds good but then, after a few days, it hits: boredom, routine, bitter cold weather, no socializing, stuck in the house and nothing exciting to look forward to except spring, which is months away. Is there a resolution?
After all the holiday gifts and decorations are tucked away, consider this New Year's resolution: conquer clutter and organize the house. Why not? You are relegated to indoor activities anyway and imagine all the time you will have to focus on spring when it arrives. And consider the feeling of accomplishment and pride as you gaze around your clutter-free, organized home.
A major consideration in pursuing this resolution is attitude. There must be motivation. So, take an honest look around your house. Are there times when you think "My house would run more smoothly if there were less stuff around?” Consider your daily routine; how much time is wasted looking for gloves, keys, clothes and sifting through old newspapers?
There is no one right way to tackle the clutter. But whatever your approach, you must be willing to get rid of the junk. Do the before and after test; take a good look at any room in your house. For example, look at your kitchen and envision one with ample counter space and spacious cabinets that make it a pleasure to place your dishes into.
Now, you are ready to begin the project. Here are some tips to help you along.
- For one month, as you are using kitchen utensils, put them in a bag. What is left at the end of the month are items that are used frequently. Place them in easily accessible spots. The items not in the bag are used less than once a month and can be stored.
- Next, access your other kitchen items: pitch, repair or donate any broken appliances. Anything that is never used, rarely used or is a duplicate, dispose of. If you have seasonal kitchenware, store it.
- As you review your dishes, if you have company-only dishes, they can be put away in another area. The idea is to expand your cabinet space.
- Go through your refrigerator and pantry, throwing out the expired food.
- If you have a kitchen sill, simplify it. Dispose of dying plants or flowers that don’t resemble the one you bought originally. If you find you are left with an empty sill, treat yourself to a nursery trip.
- Your counter should only have two appliances on it. Choose the appliances you use daily. As you sort what is on your counter, you can create more space by getting rid of the cookie jar and other canisters, putting the food in plastic bowls and moving to a drawer or cabinet.
- If you need more pantry space, attach a narrow door rack to the back of your pantry door.
- You can place hooks underneath shelves to hang cups. A metal rod works well for hanging pots and pans that you use often.
- Place all of your spices in one place; a lazy susan handles this efficiently.
- As you reorganize, if you have small children, put all your pots, pans and plastic bowls in the bottom drawers and cabinets so the kids can reach them easily and have safe “toys” to play with.
- Categorize, place items together that you will use together — for example, all the baking needs: flour, sugar and measuring cups.
- Put a few extra garbage bags in the bottom of your trash can. It will save you a few trips to your garbage bag storage.
- Start with the medicine cabinet and dispose of all expired medication.
- Next, assess all the items on your counter. Sort them into piles: daily, more than once a month and less than once a month use. The daily use pile should be placed on the counter. The more than once a month goes into the top drawers or cabinets for easy accessibility. And the less than once a month can be stored.
- By now, you are seeing the pattern — sort and simplify.
- First, make sure the lighting is adequate in your closet so you can see your clothes well.
- With your clothes, if you haven’t worn it in a year, donate or dispose. If the outfit is out of date, doesn’t fit, you don’t like how it looks on you, or you got a great deal but never wore it, donate or dispose.
- Next, some people prefer to have their clothes hung by category: dresses, shirts, skirts and pants. You can also further categorize by color.
- Shoes can be lined up on the floor or a shelf in clear plastic shoe boxes, or they can be hung on a shoe tree.
I’m focusing on children’s bedrooms in this section because they tend to be more of a project than the master bedroom. But in general, if the master bedroom has become a catchall for things around the house that don’t have a “home,” sort through, throw out or put items in their proper place.
- Go through clothes and shoes, throwing out or donating those that don’t fit.
- If you engage your children in the organization of their bedroom, they will be more invested in maintaining it.
- Discuss with your child what activity areas they would like to designate in their room. For example, there could be art, reading, work space, play and clothes changing areas.
- The art area could include soup cans to store paint brushes, colored pencils and crayons. Utensil holders are also a useful organizing receptacle.
- For the reading area, make sure it is well lit, quiet, has comfortable seating and a book shelf.
- Work space might include a computer and a desk.
- When setting up the play area, do not use toy boxes; they are too difficult for children to view their toys. Instead, use small to medium sized plastic bins.
- With older children, start with sorting through the clothes as described above. A teen is probably going to be more interested in the color and furniture in their room. Maybe it’s time for a face-lift to reflect their taste. Painting a room is an easy, inexpensive and quick way to change the mood of a room. Furniture can be also be sanded and repainted to coordinate with the room color.
After you have completed the work, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.