Column: New Year’s Resolutions for Getting Organized

By Margarita Cossuto

There is something about the new year beginning that conjures up images of starting fresh and getting things for the months ahead. It is no surprise then that one of the most popular resolutions every year is getting organized. The new year is a perfect time to really think about what “getting organized” means to you and make it happen! Here are 4 tips to help you get organized in the new year. Try implementing a different tip each day of the week and notice the impact that small changes can have on your space.

Only handle it once: This organizing tip spells out OHIO, which simply means to always deal with an item immediately, rather than putting it down or dealing with it later. For example, it is so easy and tempting to get the mail and drop it on the counter, while telling yourself that you’ll open it tomorrow – and this can happen for a few days until you have a large pile of unopened mail. The OHIO tip suggests you open and sort your mail into piles immediately as you get it. The same can be applied with new items you’re bringing into the house. Say you walk into the house with a bag of toiletries that you just bought, and you typically drop bags in the kitchen to deal with later. Instead, immediately take the bag into your bathroom, and even better, remove the items from the bag and put them where they belong before starting something else in the house. The OHIO tip can help your mind feel more “freed up” because you are not wasting time coming back to the same mail or other tasks you need to “get to” multiple times a day, or week.

Do a 10-minute sweep: Spend just 10 minutes a day decluttering a single drawer, surface, shelf, or box. Limiting yourself to small amounts of time to organize can be less intimidating and, as a result, more productive than devoting an entire day to organizing. If you’re doing a sweep of any areas of your home, take some time to remove items that are broken, that you no longer use, and that you just don’t like anymore. Try to keep only things that you enjoy and that you know you’ll use. When organizing drawers, using dividers to categorize and separate items can help keep items organized and easy to find. The same strategy can be used for surfaces or shelves by using open decorative boxes or baskets to corral items.

Find a place for everything: Look around your home and find items that are not where they belong and put them into a box. Before putting the things back, ask yourself what may have gotten in the way of placing the item back. Keep in mind that it is often easier to remove items from somewhere than it is to put them back, especially if the area is overcrowded with stuff. Once you have all the items from around the house in a box, walk through the rooms of your house and find a home for them.

Consider donations: As you declutter, you will have to make decisions on your items, and most will fall into one of three categories: Keep, Toss, or Donate. Keep items that use regularly, need, and like and enjoy. Toss items are that damaged beyond repair, expired, and set aside items that need to be recycled. Donate items that you haven’t used in a long time, and no longer need or like. Keep a donation box in your home that you add to as you go about your days. If you see a shirt you no longer wear or like while putting away clothes, put it in the donation box. If you see a kitchen gadget you have never used while looking for a pot or pan, put the gadget in the box. As you declutter or when you see items throughout the day, ask yourself, “Why are you keeping an item?”. This question gives you a chance to think about what you use the item for when you last used it if you will use it again, and if you still like it.

Focusing on these tips can help get your home organized in the way you want it to look and feel. To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, establish an organizational system that works for you. Keep in mind how great your space will look once you’ve completed your tasks, and how refreshed you will feel.