How to Stay Organized in the New Year

A new year has arrived, and with it comes our resolutions to be better—at home, at work and at life. With twelve months ahead of us, we hope that the vows we make to ourselves will continue through December. Getting the house organized is at the top of the list for many people, because an organized home is the foundation for a happier, more balanced and more satisfying life. There is no better time to commit to a fresh start than at the onset of the year. Unsure how to begin? We are here to offer tips to get started and for sticking to your newfound organizational plan.

Get rid of the excess

One of the best things you can do for your home and your life is to clear out what you do not need. Clutter is not just unattractive; it can hinder your ability to focus and process information, according to researchers at Princeton University. A messy home or office pulls your attention in too many different directions, making it harder to get anything done and contributing to dissatisfaction. Though it can feel hard to let go of something—the researchers also found that getting rid of things of personal value affects the same area of our brains as physical pain—once you begin the process, it will get easier with time.

Begin with simple things: old bills and receipts, magazines you have already read, expired coupons, pantry food that has gone bad, old makeup and cleaning supplies. Once you tackle these items, move on to more difficult conquests. Go through your closet and let go of clothes that no longer fit or have fallen out of fashion. Be honest with yourself about how often you wear something and if you are likely to wear it again.

Are decorative items crowding your shelves and tables? A little goes a long way when it comes to home accents, so take a look around your space and see if there is anything you can get rid of or donate. As a bonus, less clutter on shelves means easier dusting for you when it comes time to clean.

If you have children, you know that one of the biggest hindrances to an organized house are toys scattered all over the floor. Keep a manageable toy load by periodically going through the collection to discard anything broken and donate anything the kids no longer play with. Your children will learn to appreciate their belongings more and you will improve the lives of those less fortunate.

Everything in its place

Now that you have sorted through your belongings and kept only what you really need, it is time to find a place for everything. Having a designated spot for the items in your home is the key to keeping it clean and organized. Once you know where things go, you will have no excuse for not putting them away.

In your kitchen, the secret to organization is categories. Keeping like things together makes cooking, baking and putting away dishes easier. Have designated cabinets and/or drawers for plates, silverware, utensils, cups and more. Do the same thing in the pantry so you do not waste time hunting down ingredients. Better yet, organize things like flour and sugar in clear reusable containers. It looks nicer, saves space and lets you see when you are running low on things. When cooking or baking, kitchen countertops can quickly get overcrowded with items, so try to only store things on them that you use on a regular basis.

Your living room is arguably where your family spends the most time together, so you will want to make sure your time in there is spent wisely and comfortably. Many homes these days are overrun by electronics, and while they do a lot to entertain us, the cords can quickly get out of control. Taming your cords is a small and simple fix, but it will go a long way in making your room look more organized. Does your coffee table exist solely to hold your drinks? If so, consider getting one that is multifunctional and offers drawers and storage spaces for organizing remotes, blankets, coasters and more.

black, yellow and white master bedroom

Your bedroom should be a peaceful oasis, not a place where junk accumulates in piles in the corner. Everything in this room should inspire rest and relaxation. Do not crowd the top of your dresser with your belongings; instead, clear out the top drawer of your dresser to make space for things you use to get ready every day. If your bedside table has too much strewn on top of it, consider one with drawers to contain your chargers and books and save room for a simple lamp or alarm clock.

Consistency and routine

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, do not despair. Learning to let go of things we have been holding onto and establishing new routines is hard. Start slow with small steps, as recommended by top organizational coaches such as FlyLady or Marie Kondo.

Make a plan to declutter periodically throughout the year so it is not so much at once. Train yourself to prevent clutter and messes before they happen by being more mindful with your purchases and cleaning up after yourself as you go along. Before you know it, you will have developed an organized routine that allows you to spend less time cleaning your home and more time enjoying it.