Are you dreaming of a clutter-free 2018? If your organizational habits involve piles of stuff next to piles of other stuff, you might think that the Pinterest-fueled world of perfectly labeled drawers and to-do lists written in calligraphy is out of reach. And while that might be true, that doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your new year’s resolution to get more organized this year.
Here are six actual, concrete steps you can take to make 2018 the most organized year of your life. And yes, anyone can accomplish every single one of these.
You already know this one. Cross it off this January and the rest of the items on this list will fall into place. This month, take an entire day—or weekend, depending on the size of your home and the size of your mess—to get rid of stuff you don’t need. You can do it room-by-room, but if that seems too daunting, here’s a cheat sheet of things to get rid of:
Food items that are expired, almost empty or unappealing to anyone in your home
DVDs, CDs and VHS tapes (VHS tapes?!?!) that you can stream instead
Paperwork that you no longer need
Clothing that hasn’t been worn in a year or more
Items you got for free from some event (mugs, frisbees, t-shirts etc.)
Decorative items that no longer match your home’s style
Dried out pens and markers
Items missing their mates (socks, shoes, earrings, etc.)
Clothes and toys that your children have outgrown
Anything that’s damaged or stained
You know those organizational tasks that you never get around to? Things like cleaning out your car, organizing your junk drawer or rearranging your closet? Get yourself to actually do those things this year by putting them on your calendar. Think of all the organizational tasks you’d like to do on a regular basis (whether that means weekly, monthly or even yearly) and pencil them in on your calendar. Suddenly, organizing your desk and cleaning out your vanity sink will transform things you keep putting off into appointments you’ll actually keep.
The problem with finding a place for everything is that not everything has a place. This is where random clutter comes from. To solve this problem, buy a decorative basket for every room in your house and use it for wrangling the odds and ends that would otherwise end up creating a mess. You can use a basket in the living room for your kids’ toys, a basket in the bathroom for random lotions and bath bubbles, a basket in the mudroom for hats and gloves. Whatever clutter you’ve got going on will have a home.
Filing cabinets aren’t just for work. You can have one at home to keep track of important paperwork—like tax forms, contracts, birth certificates and lease agreements—and not so important paperwork like takeout menus, college essays you’re proud of and newspaper clippings you want to hang onto. And no, filing cabinets don’t have to look like those big, ugly, gray monoliths that live in your boss’s office.
We hate to sound like a broken record, but we can’t stop singing the praises of vertical storage space. One excellent opportunity for organizing with vertical storage space this year is to use behind the door storage. Here are a few places to do it:
Shoe organizers on your closet, bedroom and bathroom doors. You can use these to store toiletries, rolled up t-shirts, kids’ toys and you know, actual shoes.
Behind the door organizers under your bathroom and kitchen sink for cleaning products and bulky bath products and miscellaneous tools like curling irons and hair brushes.
Behind the door organizers in kitchen cabinets for spices, baking supplies and any kitchen item you use often that you’d like to have readily available.
If you don’t feel like finding the perfect sized behind the door organizer for every door, you can also utilize hooks to hang things from.
Sometimes, even all of the purging, scheduling, wrangling, filing and shelving is no match for the extra space that a storage unit can supply. Consider renting a storage unit for the clutter you can’t part ways with. Whether you’ve got seasonal wardrobe items, holiday decorations, a crib that you’d like to hang onto for the next little member of your family or anything else, renting a storage unit on a month-to-month basis just might save the day, or maybe even the whole year.