With the new year approaching, most of us are looking to be a better version of ourselves. And for many of us, we are also looking to be more organized.
Here are 12 easy organizing tips for the new year and the last… well, it might just change your life. 🙂
1) Sort through the junk drawer
Junk drawers are a necessity, but they need some help once in a while. Tip: Once they’re organized, don’t try to eliminate them or the loose change and batteries will end up in another drawer. (Trust me on this one, I’ve tried.) Just try to organize your junk drawers every 2-3 months.
2) Keep a list of your passwords in a safe place
With all the recent hacking stories in the news, I do not recommend keeping this list electronically. My recommendation is to write them down (in pencil) in a small notebook. When required to change a password, erase it and write down the new one. Keep your list in the same place so it never gets lost!
See this post for more “non stuff” things to organize.
3) Update your movie storage
Do you watch a lot of streaming video on Netflix, Amazon, etc? Free up space and consider selling or donating DVDs you don’t watch or don’t need. Facebook resale sites are a great place to sell unwanted children’s DVDs.
If there are home videos you would like to save, have them converted to a DVD or other type of media. But otherwise, ditch your VHS tapes! Get rid of that shelf of DVD cases! Put your DVDs in a binder (or two, or three) with plastic sleeves to save space.
See this post on How to Survive Without Cable.
4) Check expiration dates
Check your pantry, medicine cabinet, make-up drawer, cleaning supplies, and toiletries.
If it’s expired, you shouldn’t have it. If you have good food that isn’t expired and you aren’t going to eat it, donate it to a food pantry. For all of these items (even if it isn’t expired), if you don’t need it or use it, then get rid of it! Pare it down and only keep what you need so you can free up space.
5) Organize your photos
Print several pictures from your electronic collection each week. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time or the task will seem overwhelming. You will now have the keepsakes forever and you don’t have to worry about old electronic files becoming obsolete. After complete, you can recycle your old electronic devices.
If you prefer online storage, do a quick Google search and find a reliable service, purchase a backup hard drives, etc. Talk to friends, find a solution that works for you, and then do it.
6) Make sure your food containers have lids
Cabinets that store food containers seem to become an ever growing black hole. I’m positive that almost everyone reading this needs to sort through some of theirs.
If you can’t find a matching bottom or top, recycle the rest of it! Don’t wait around until you find it, not having matching container bottoms and tops wastes your time and cabinet space. Only keep the ones that you will use. If you need to buy new containers, buy square or rectangular ones. They stack better and take up less space in the fridge than the round ones.
7) Keep your party essentials in one place
Designate one shelf in a utility or linen closet for all your party supplies, such as paper plates, cups, utensils, napkins, vases, etc. Have another spot for streamers, balloons, and then actually use them! A clear, sealed container works well to protect disposable eating goods from collecting dust. Doing this will not just keep them organized and in one place, it will make setting up for your party that much easier! Grab the bin and BAM! You’re ready. This same concept can apply to swimming gear, camping supplies, picnic stuff, etc.
8) Ditch your mismatched socks
Everyone has socks that just don’t have a match. Next time you find one or open that sock drawer, spend an extra 15 minutes to sort through the socks. The ones that don’t have a match should be ditched. If you find one, hold onto it for a week or so and then move on. Missing socks are a part of life and shouldn’t burden you! If you don’t want to throw them away, toss them all into a zip bag and donate to Goodwill, or another place that will also recycle clothing items.
If you want to make sure that ALL your socks ALWAYS have a match, you can do what my husband does and only buy one type of sock! I’ve adopted this method for myself and each of our kids and won’t go back.
Also read our post on How to Keep the Laundry from Taking Over.
9) Consider additional shelving
Adding additional shelving is a easy and a great way to organize almost any space. Consider adding shelving, cabinets, or hooks in the kitchen, closets, laundry room, bathrooms, basement, garage, etc. Some shelving can be purchased ready to go, or others can be built for a reasonable cost.
Here’s our post on how to build a sturdy, inexpensive basement storage shelf in one day. (Yes, one day! Even if you aren’t handy!!)
10) Keep track of your instruction manuals
To keep them organized, store your instruction manuals and receipts for major purchases all in a centralized spot. I recommend using a 3 ring binder with plastic sleeves or a folder.
Another option is to ditch the manuals altogether and find a link to them online. Look up the item number, copy the link to the manual, and place them all into a document on your computer saved as “Instruction Manuals”. This will save a bit of time when you replace the batteries in your remote and can’t find out how to re-program it. #beentheredonethat
11) Take back your closet
The sole purpose of a closet is to help you, right? Then why are we letting the closets drive us crazy!?!
Take back your closet, here’s a detailed post (one of our most popular posts!) on how to declutter your closet.
Add some shelving or shoe storage to keep the closet organized. Another tip is to use only one style of hanger so you don’t have to deal with the mismatches almost everyone has (wood, wire, plastic). Also see, how to declutter your closet.
12) Stop listening to Organizing “Experts”
Wait, what? Haha!
Despite what most of Pinterest, organizing stores, makers of bins, “experts” and bloggers (people like myself, ahem) tell you, you don’t need fancy new bins or dollar store items that can be repurposed. You don’t need to hang onto everything because you are not a store. Stop going to the thrift store and buying stupid organizing devices designed not to organize, but to take away precious space.
No, no. Ignore all of that. You don’t need more places for your stuff. 🙂 You need to get rid of stuff. I promise, you don’t need it all.
The best way to get organized is to have less. Then, put your stuff away and keep it in the same spot. (I know, earth shattering stuff here!) And then, stop bringing so much in.
And the best way to really, truly organized is to start. Just do it.
Stop overwhelming yourself! Tackle things bit by bit, in 15 minute spurts. When you are feeling more brave or get into it, keep going! But pace yourself or you’ll end up overwhelmed again.
Start working on stuff now and then join us in February for a decluttering event called 40 BAGS IN 40 DAYS , where you tackle one spot at a time. We’ll give you plenty of support, let you know you’re not alone, and you’ll be joined by a community of hundreds of thousands of people in the same situation as you. Who just want to live a bit more simply.
This new year, let’s get organized together.
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