The signs of post-holiday bulge are everywhere. There are all those shopping bags in bedrooms stuffed with holiday presents. Coat closets are jammed with puffer coats, muddy boots and vacuum cleaners. And in attics, hallways and garages, stacks of dusty plastic tubs hold many mystery items.
It’s time for the post-holiday home diet, an annual decluttering that can be even tougher to begin and sustain than going paleo or vegan. So strap on your fitness tracker and get moving.
We consulted a few professional organizers for advice. Here are 10 great ways to jump-start your plan to declutter and get organized in the new year.
1. Set goals. Be specific about what you want to accomplish and put the list in writing, says Laura Cambridge of Dynamic Organizing in Silver Spring. Schedule dates on your calendar to tackle specific projects, whether the junk drawer or the toolbox.
2. Identify tiny projects that will give you a lot of satisfaction. Pick a corner of a room, one shelf or one stack of papers to start. Work in small steps, doing what you can in about half an hour, says Leslie Nathan, a professional organizer whose company, Reclaim Your Life, is in Takoma Park. Don’t try to tackle too much in one sitting.
3. Compartmentalize as you go through your stuff. Take four boxes and label them “Trash,” “Storage,” “Donate” and “For Sale.” Use these for sorting as you declutter and then expedite bringing them to their final destinations, Nathan says.
4. Get rid of things you know you don’t want or need — immediately. Since you won’t be sorry to let those things go, get them out of your house first. Diminishing visual clutter makes us feel less chaotic, says Janet Schiesl of Basic Organization in Centreville.
5. Use the one-in-one-out rule for books. For every book you bring into the house, let one book go. You can keep a box of books to donate to a library or another charity, Schiesl says.
6. Share what you no longer need this winter. Many people could use a warm coat or hat. Now’s the time to go through your hall closet and give away kids’ coats that no longer fit and other unneeded outerwear, Cambridge says.
7. Clear horizontal surfaces. Just seeing a cleared-off kitchen counter or dresser or desktop will motivate you to do more. Emptying surfaces makes a lasting impact you can see right away, Schiesl says.
8. Schedule a home pickup date from a charity. Having a firm date will motivate you to move ahead quickly. And then you won’t have boxes and bags of donations clogging your closets or hallways, Cambridge says.
9. Set up a 2015 memo box or file for each family member. Take action to control clutter in 2015. Use these boxes as a place to put things you want to save, such as concert tickets, birthday cards or cute notes from your kids, Cambridge says. This kind of stuff tends to stack up on a kitchen counter or bedside table. Now it can be part of a time capsule for the year.
10. Invite people over. Having a party is a great motivator to clear items off tabletops, counters, floors, steps and coffee tables, Nathan says. If you make your space beautiful, you’ll see how satisfying it is to keep your home clutter-free and organized.
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