Tackle these tasks month by month for a decluttering strategy that will really pay off.
Enter your New Year Clutter-Clearing Plan, a month-by-month guide to clearing the clutter from every room in your house. I’ve zeroed in on areas of the home that I find fit with certain events, such as back-to-school or spring fashion, but feel free to reorganize as you see fit to tackle specific areas of your home that need attention sooner.
No matter what, by the end of the year, your home should be feeling more spacious and, perhaps more important, you should be feeling more capable of maintaining a clutter-free space.
Habit to cultivate: Keep an empty reusable bin in a closet, and use it to corral items you plan to give away.
- Toss worn dish towels or cut them up to make rags
- Sell or give away specialty small appliances and tools you seldom or never use
- Recycle or toss freebie cups and Tupperware containers without lids
- Toss expired food and spices
- Take stock of cookware and dishes; give away or sell pieces you do not need
Habit to cultivate: Clean out the pantry and fridge each week before shopping.
- Sort through random stacks of paper; file, shred or recycle everything
- Streamline your files, shredding any documents you no longer need
- Use one calendar to keep track of all events
- Switch to paperless bills and statements if possible
- Clean out computer files and back up everything, using cloud-based storage and an external drive
Habit to cultivate: Sort your mail at the door, tossing junk immediately into a recycling bin.
- Donate or sell clothes, shoes and accessories in good condition
- Have winter clothes laundered or dry-cleaned before storing until next year
- Try on all clothes for the upcoming season and give away or sell any items that do not make you feel good
Habit to cultivate: As soon as you wear something and notice it doesn’t fit, has a hole or doesn’t flatter you, toss it in a bag in your closet. When the bag is full, donate it.
- Toss expired makeup and skin-care items, as well as anything you do not use or like
- Clean drawers and shelves before returning items
- Store heat- and moisture-sensitive items (medications and some skin-care products) away from the bathroom
Habit to cultivate: Keep a list of your favorite bath and beauty products and order them online rather than shopping in person. This helps avoid overshopping and impulse purchases.
- Recycle worn-out and stained towels, washcloths, sheets and tea towels at a textile recycling center.
- If your child has graduated a bed size, donate the old bedding to charity
- Clean under sinks and in any cupboards where cleaning supplies are stored. Get rid of empty containers and products you tried but did not like
Habit to cultivate: Don’t downgrade old towels and sheets to “guest” status. Only keep linens you would personally want to use — get rid of the rest. Your guests deserve better!
- Edit schoolwork and art from the past year
- Gather a bag of DVDs, books and CDs to give away or sell
- Sort through toys and games; get rid of those your family no longer enjoys, as well as anything missing key pieces
Habit to cultivate: At the beginning of each school year, pick up a simple art portfolio. When your child brings work home, enjoy all of it for a while, but choose only a few special pieces to put in the portfolio.
- Get rid of broken tools and those you no longer need
- Sort through gardening supplies
- Toss worn-out outdoor furnishings and decor
- If you’ve been collecting items to sell, hold a yard sale this month. At the end of the day, take unsold items to a charity donation center
Habit to cultivate: Keep everything in your garage or shed on shelving, not on the floor. This helps prevent accumulating a pileup of junk and keeps your gear cleaner.
- Choose a few favorite photos from this year and have them framed
- Edit digital photos and back up using a cloud service as well as an external drive
- Make a photo album or book from recent photos
- Sort through any bins of loose photos and put them in acid-free photo boxes or simple albums
Habit to cultivate: Take a few extra moments to tag favorite digital photos each time you upload. Then when it’s time to print or make an album, you can go straight to your favorites.
- Put away stray items in entrances that belong elsewhere
- Add extra hooks or shelves if you need them to help corral items
- Sort through junk drawers, baskets, trays and any other spots that accumulate random junk
- Invest in drawer organizers or a wall-mounted organizer to keep small items neat
Habit to cultivate: Do an end-of-day tidy-up of the entryway, putting shoes, coats and random items back where they belong.