It's a new year, and with a new year comes New Years resolutions. Many of you will spend the early months of 2017 hitting the gym, dieting, or making another change to influence your personal health. And, while an increased commitment to your personal health is important, a commitment to maintaining your environment can be just as impactful on your mental well-being. But, where do you start if you're overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in your environment or you're short on time? Try implementing one of these decluttering activities each week for the next five weeks to reset for the new year. For more accountability, write them on your calendar and communicate your intentions with your spouse, partner, or a friend.
Week 1: Create a Home Landing Pad (Time: Approximately 1 hour, Supplies: 1 desktop organizer) When you first arrive home, your landing pad is where you drop your keys, wallet, mail, cellphone, and any other daily items. This area can easily become cluttered, leaving you with overdue bills, missing work, and lost necessities. Create an area that’s easily managed with a clearly identified place for: 1) unopened mail, 2) things to take action on, 3) things to shred, and 4) things to file. Also have a place to drop your daily items, like your keys and cellphone, so they always end up in the same place. Then, make it part of your nightly (or morning) routine to spend 5 minutes tidying your landing pad. And, finally, make it part of your weekly routine to transfer items from your landing pad to your more permanent filing system.
Week 2: Declutter Your Bedroom Closet (Time: 2-5 hours, Supplies: 1 large donation bin) According to a Wall Street Journal article, most people only wear 20% of the clothing in their wardrobe. But, don’t fret if you aren’t ready to part with 80% of your closet’s belongings. Aim to reduce your clothing by just 25%. First, start by taking everything (yes, EVERYTHING) out of your closet and laying it on the bedroom floor or bed. Then, start the purging process by repeating: Keep, Keep, Keep, Lose. That is, for every three items kept, place one in the donate pile. You may need to try-on clothing during this time to see which pair of those dusty jeans fits well. Fight the inclination to keep several pairs of multiple sizes “just in case”. If you do lose weight, it’s likely that you’ll want to treat yourself to a new pair that’s in style. And, larger sizes should be folded and put in a box that doesn’t take up prime closet space. Once you’ve paired down your belongings, organize your clothing by type and color. In other words, pair together all short sleeved shirts that are red, and move through the rainbow and into your neutral colors. Doing so will make items easier to locate and give you a visual representation of what fashions you own. One client realized that the majority of her wardrobe was beige, even though she preferred wearing brighter colors. Once she had that in mind, she knew not to make impulse purchases on any more beige clothing!
Week 3: Declutter Your Pantry (Time: 1-2 hours, Supplies: about 5 six-quart plastic bins & labels) Having a well-stocked pantry is essential for busy families that may need a last minute ingredient to whip up dinner. But, having a well-stocked pantry may also mean you end up with expired items that were pushed into the back. Start your pantry declutter similarly to how you began your closet, by taking everything out and placing it on your kitchen table. Then, throw away all expired items. Next, start categorizing items, placing smaller like-items into plastic bins that you can easily slide off the shelf. Doing so will decrease the amount of items that become inaccessible and, then, forgotten about.
Week 4: Organize Your Files from 2016 (Time: 2-5 hours, Supplies: File folders, cross-cut paper shredder) You may have a stack of papers and receipts from 2016 that need to be organized in preparation for tax season. Start by going through your papers and placing them into keep and shred piles. Keep in mind, you don’t need all of your statements, just your year-end one, for tax-purposes. (Source: Kiplinger) What else will you need to hold onto? Don’t forget to keep receipts for tax-deductible contributions and receipts for items that may have a warranty; then, file them accordingly. Make sure to shred all documents you won’t need with a cross-cut paper shredder to avoid being a victim of fraud.
Week 5: Create a Filing System for 2017 (Time: 1-3 hours, Supplies: Internet access, file folders or accordion file) While you do need access to your bank statements, earning statements, and some receipts for tax-purposes, keep in mind, many of those things can be accessed online. So, start the new year by going paperless. Setup automatic payments on your major bills, and have receipts emailed to you. Then, as you receive emails, move these items to a digital file for 2017 taxes/receipts. Make sure to have a physical file for other paper receipts that you may encounter throughout the year. An accordion file works well to separate receipts for different purposes.
If you need help completing these decluttering activities, contact me: The Declutter Bug for a FREE consultation.