The time for New Year’s resolutions is upon us. Your friends might want to lose weight, cook more, or cut back on vices. But you are planning something entirely different.
This is the year you want to declutter and organize your home.
And keep it that way.
Congrats on making the leap. To get you started, we came up with a list of the 10 best tips to help you get started.
1. Establish manageable goals
As with any big project, you have to first sit down and plan it out. Start with small, attainable goals.
Tell yourself you’ll clean one thing every day. Set a time limit to do this. 15 minutes. 30 minutes. No matter what, plan to clean and organize one thing a day.
2. Create routines
Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to figure out how and when you’re going to do it. Creating routines is essential for keeping your home organized and in order.
Start with creating weekly and monthly routines. What tasks can you move under each one?
Tasks you can include on your weekly list are:
- Washing towels and bedsheets.
- Mopping and vacuuming floors.
- Outdoor tasks like mowing the lawn.
Tasks you can include on your monthly list are:
- Cleaning out the refrigerator.
- Dust ceiling fans and blinds.
- Reorganize your pantry.
By establishing routines you’re more likely to do them each time they come up. Extra tip: time yourself. Track how long it takes to do each task. This gives you an idea of how much time you’ll need next round.
3. Make big tasks smaller tasks
Professional organizers know how long it can take to organize an entire room. If you’re looking to do your entire house, know it’ll take time. If you don’t get everything done in a month, that’s ok.
You’ll need to break big tasks into smaller projects to get everything done. Every room in your home will need to be broken down.
Let’s take your kitchen as an example. Rather than say, “I’m going to organize my kitchen today,” say, “Today I’m going to clean out the fridge. Tomorrow I’ll do the pantry. This weekend I’ll sort through my spice cabinet.” Keep going until the whole room is done.
Breaking projects down into little tasks will make approaching them easier. It’ll also keep your stress levels down.
4. A place for everything
Another professional organizer pro tip is to find a home for everything.
Organizing is not about throwing random things together so they’re off the floor. It’s about storing things away in a systematic way.
When cleaning each room, consider the items you have. Should something belong in a different room? If yes, bring it there and find a home for it later. If no, leave it in the room you’re in and find a home for it.
The “everything in its place” rule is vital to organizing. It’s a task that might take some time.
As I said before, don’t just toss it anywhere. Start a bin of items you need to find homes for. If you need to take a few days to figure it out, do so. You have to create a system that works for you.
5. Take care of small things right away
This rule coincides with the next one, but they’re separate for a reason. Don’t let small things pile up.
Like the mail. When you get the mail each day, don’t toss it aside to handle it later. Sort through it right away. If there’s a piece you need a longer look at, put it somewhere you’ll see it.
This is how most homes get unorganized in the first place. We let the little things pile up.
Whatever you can get done right away, do it. Don’t put it off. Little things take no time.
6. The five-minute rule
How many times have you said you can’t do something because you don’t have time? Me too. We’re all guilty of it. But if you want to organize your home and maintain it, you’re going to need to find the time.
Enter the five-minute rule. This is perfect when your schedule is tight.
Pick one thing you know will take five minutes to do. Empty the dishwasher. Put the folded laundry away. Wipe down the crumb-filled counter. If it takes five minutes, get it done.
Knocking out the little things will give you more time for the big stuff.
7. Track progress
There’s nothing worse than when you’re cleaning and you come across a part of your home you’re sure you did already. But you can’t be sure.
Avoid this mistake by using a notebook to track your progress.
Date the top of each page and write down what you accomplished. You can also write down a little note to yourself about what you need to finish. Include ideas, things you need to buy, etc. Make it the hub of your organizing plan. Look at it each morning for reference.
Once you’ve gone through the entire house, start all over again.
8. Take breaks
Many professional organizers — like The Project Neat — have a team of organizers. This is why we’re able to do so much in a few hours.
If you’re tackling this project by yourself, remember to take care of yourself.
Take breaks. If you do a lot of bending and stretching and you’re feeling tired the next day, relax. Don’t force yourself to do more. If you need to do something, complete a few five-minute tasks.
Any progress is better than no progress. But know that it’s ok to give yourself a day off.
You just accomplished something big. High-five yourself. Sit down with a glass of wine.
You did it! You decluttered and organized your home.
If now’s not the time to celebrate, I don’t know when is.
10. Make mistakes
I put this tip last because it’s the most important.
Understand you’re tackling something big and you’re going to make mistakes. No one — not even professional organizers — get it all right the first time.
Accept that mistakes will be made. Learn from them and keep going.
Choosing to declutter and organize your home is no easy task. The Project Neat is happy to help whenever you get stuck or overwhelmed. Let us know what rooms you’re having trouble with by filling out our contact form. We’d love to hear from you!