Top 10 Tips to Plan for the Year of No Clutter!

“I’m going to get organized this year!” stands in the Top 10 of our New Year’s resolutions. And this goal remains on Top 10 lists year and after year. It makes sense, then, that In the world of Professional Organizers, January is Get Organized – or GO! – Month! GO Month activities around the country include “Shred-a-thons,” “Ask the Organizer” panel discussions, closet make-over seminars, and contests for the messiest kitchen pantry.

January is a logical time for GO Month. The beginning of a new year is a good time to create your plan to becoming less cluttered and more organized. Here’s your Top 10 list to get ready for your new year of No Clutter! Call me if you need help developing your own personal plan.  I’m here to help!

Begin with this idea in mind: Clutter starts outside your front door! If it’s in your hand before you bring it home, ask: “It is possible I don’t need this right now?”

Brainstorm, then list, all the spaces (home and work) that you want to de-clutter or organize. As appropriate, be sure to include storage units, piles of business cards, desk drawers, and the trunk of your car!

Prioritize the list. What area(s) of your home or work space makes you the most crazy? Have you put off a home repair because clutter prevents access to that space? Do you want to start small and then work up to the messier areas?

Do you need help? Who do you know who can help clear your path. You want to work with objective, non-judgmental (and physically strong!) friends or family members. Offer to reciprocate [your friends probably have clutter, too!]

Go through your calendar for the entire year. Note the days and times when you have to be at work, the dates of long weekends, and dates for visitors, vacations, and conferences. The plug-in dates for tackling each project.

Get a sense of when you can logically begin (and complete) a de-clutter project. For every hour that you spend de-cluttering, you will need another hour to re-organize. Too many people do not complete their de-clutter project simply because they didn’t leave enough time to do the work.

How long it will take? Choose a small project – the junk drawer! – gather your supplies [waste basket, recycle bag, old towel, kitchen timer]. Lay the towel on a flat surface, dump the drawer on the towel, set the timer, get to work! Don’t leave your work station until you complete the project. How long did it take? What were the distractions? What did you learn about yourself in the process? All of this is good information for when you’re ready to move onto something bigger.

Supplies: for most projects you will need a big supply of trash and recycle bags. For the garage you may need to order a 3- or 4-yard dumpster. Other supplies may include a label maker, boxes for items to be donated, paper/felt-tip pens to mark areas for sorting (trash, donate, keep, recycle), and gloves.

Avoid purchasing anything that you may think will help you become more organized. The time for buying shelves, bins, or containers is after each organizing project when you will know exactly what you plan to keep. Everything you plan to keep should have a “home” within your home.

Maintain your motivation: List all the reasons why you want to de-clutter and become more organized! Post the list where you will see it often. Conceive, believe, and achieve your goals! Remember: you are not your clutter.