Tackle these tasks month by month for a decluttering strategy that will really pay off
With an entire new year ahead of you, decluttering your home may not seem so hard. But after January, when that new year energy begins to wane, the prospect of tackling such a big project tends to overwhelm.
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.
Getting Started: Turbocharge your decluttering.
If you’re feeling inspired and motivated by the new year, take advantage of that energy and spend a few weekends clearing clutter throughout the house. Making noticeable headway will help motivate you to keep up the decluttering effort in the coming months. Try to get the other members of your household onboard — but if they are not interested, don’t try to force it. Hopefully they will see the positive changes happening around the house and change their tune!
Habit to cultivate: Keep an empty reusable bin in a closet, and use it to corral items you plan to give away.
January: Kitchen and pantry.
Give yourself a fresh start for the new year with a clean kitchen, decluttered cabinets and a healthy pantry and fridge.
- 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.
February: Home office – digital documents and papers.
Get a jump-start on tax time by getting your files (paper and digital) in order.
- 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.
March: Clothes and accessories.
The seasonal transition is a good time to sort through clothing. Sort through winter clothes before storing, and pare back spring and summer clothes as you begin to wear them.
- 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.
April: Bath and beauty products and medicine cabinets.
Give your daily routine a spring cleaning by sorting through all of those bottles and jars hiding in medicine cabinets, on counters and in drawers.
- 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.
May: Laundry room, linen closet, cleaning supplies.
Cleaning routines are much easier and more pleasant when the supplies you need are neat and orderly. Sheets, towels and other household linens do not last forever — go through them this month and make some space.
- 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!
June: Family room, playroom, media, art and schoolwork.
The end of the school year is a good time to review collected artwork and school papers, and choose a small number of special pieces to save in a portfolio or document box.
- 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.
Stay tuned in a few months for the next 6 month guide to declutter your life!
By: Laura Gaskill