After all the excitement of the holidays, it can be hard to get back into the usual daily routine. But for a Clean Geek like me, January is kind of magical in its own way. It’s a fresh start — a perfect time to reevaluate my home organization, and set my family up for a happy 2016.
So, if one of your resolutions is to get more organized this year, you’re in luck. I’m here to help, with a list of tips to get you started.
- Declutter your living spaces
Decluttering is essential for every area of your home — not to mention your car, your workspace, etc. But for many of us, clutter seems to be at its worst in living rooms, family rooms, or other gathering spaces where everyone in the house contributes to the problem. And with that in mind, you should recruit everyone to contribute to the solution, too. This month is the right time to really overhaul your living spaces.
- Donate anything that you no longer use or enjoy. Got a vase that’s just gathering dust, or artwork that doesn’t look so great with your new paint color? Time to give those things away.
- Relocate what doesn’t belong. If you’ve got kids, you’ve probably seen far too many toys migrating into the family room. Put all that unwelcome stuff back where it’s supposed to go.
- Repurpose any items that might deserve a new life, potentially in another room of your home.
Once you’ve rid your living spaces of all the excess stuff that so easily accumulates, it’s so much simpler to organize what’s left.
- Simplify your cabinets
Make the kitchen your next target. Organizing your cabinets, drawers and pantry shelves is not an easy task, but it can make an amazing difference in your life each day. It’s so much easier to make shopping lists, prep your meals, and keep the kitchen clean when you’ve tackled cupboard organization.
Clear out anything you no longer need, clean each surface, and then take your organization one category at a time, from dried and canned foods to herbs and spices to pots and pans to smaller cooking and baking tools. As you work, think creatively about how to make better use of space. For instance:
Use small lidded containers or baskets to store smaller items, making them easier to access and less likely to get lost.
- Apply adhesive hooks inside cabinet doors to hang measuring spoons, oven mitts, etc.
- Use magazine holders inside a cabinet to neatly organize items like cutting boards and packages of foil and plastic wrap.
- Roll up silicone baking sheets and store them in a cardboard tube.
- Consider using lazy susans to make certain items more easily accessible.
- Clean out bedroom closets
At my house, I like to choose one week early in the year to be our “Closet Week.” This means that we’ll organize one closet per day — mine, my husband’s, and each of our three kids’ closets. (And I’ll usually take on the linen closet on the weekend.)
The best way to get your closet organization started is to take everything out and place it on the bed — excellent motivation to get the project done, because you’re definitely going to want that bed clear by the end of the day!
Take the same decluttering approach as you do in any room — can you donate, relocate, or repurpose an item? If so, awesome! If not, set it aside until you’ve finished sorting and you’re left with what needs to be placed back in the closet. And if you’ve been dreaming of a smarter closet system, with shelves and baskets and such, now’s the time to make it happen!
- Manage your linens
Close out your “Closet Week” with a fresh look at the linens. Have that mantra ready — donate, relocate, repurpose — and dive in.
It’s a pretty smart rule to keep items in sets of three — three sheet sets per bed, and three sets of bath towels/bath sheets, hand towels, and washcloths per person. This rule of three means you’ll always have at least one set on standby in the linen closet, with one set in use and one in the wash.
Donate old items that you’re not using but that are still in good condition, relocate anything that doesn’t belong (what’s that soccer ball doing in there, anyway?), and decide if anything could be repurposed. For example, you could cut up an old sheet or towel for rags, or consider what might make good material for costumes or other fun projects — just as long as you’re realistic about how likely you are to make those projects happen.
- Set up reminders
Last, but most certainly not least, is a tip that applies throughout the house — organizing regular maintenance that will keep your home safer. There’s no better time to do this than right now.
First, make a list of regular home maintenance tasks you’ll need to take care of over the year. For instance:
- Testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing batteries.
- Scheduling a yearly maintenance check for your heating and cooling systems.
- Checking and replacing your furnace filter.
- Cleaning your exterior dryer vent.
- Flushing out the hot water heater.
Organize your list by how often each task should be done, then add them all to your calendar. I find it helpful to not only mark a calendar that hangs in my kitchen but to add reminders in my phone. That way, I’ll get advanced notice for every task that’s coming up.
Try taking these steps a week at a time, and I think you’ll find them all manageable as well as rewarding. Here’s to a super organized 2016, Clean Geeks!