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8 Tips to Help You Reorganize Your Home Before the New Year

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If spring is for deep cleaning, the holidays are the ideal time to tidy up and reassess your space. Not only do you have a bit of extra downtime this month, but you’re also reflecting on the year gone by, looking forward to the year ahead and feeling more motivated than usual to make productive changes in your life.

 

The trick is to strike a balance between relaxing and preparing for the future. While it’s tempting to wait until setting your January resolutions to streamline your space, doing it now can help you enter the new year feeling energized, fresh and fulfilled. Here’s how to get started. 

In This Article:
  1. Reorganize Your Storage Areas First
  2. Make Three Piles
  3. Assess Every Object
  4. Put Everything in Its Right Place
  5. Rethink Your Layout
  6. Remember to Have Fun With It
  7. Still Struggling? Start With Just One Thing

1. Reorganize Your Storage Areas First

You can’t properly clean out your space if you don’t have somewhere to put everything you’ve decluttered, so start by freeing up space in your storage areas. This includes your closets, basement, garage, attic and self-storage units.

For more resources on organizing your storage areas, check out the following resources below:

 

To get things rolling, start by picking up trash and throwing them away (or recycling them) immediately. As pro organizer Nikki Bell tells the AARP

“I always suggest starting with removing the trash first. Grab a trash bag and just walk through the space throwing away anything broken, damaged or actual trash.”

 

Then use the three-pile method — we’ll explain this shortly — and don’t be too precious about your items. If you struggle to get rid of things, think about the last time you used or looked at an item. If it’s been over two years, chances are you don’t depend on them or need them in your home space — whether it’s a box of receipts or clothes you haven’t worn since college. 

Once that space is freed up, reorganize your storage areas by keeping like items together and arranging objects in order of accessibility. In other words, the more commonly used it is, the more accessible it should be.

2. Make Three Piles

After tossing your trash and combing through your storage areas, form the following three piles to help you sort your belongings:

  • A keep pile.
  • A donate/sell pile.
  • A discard pile.

If you have a bigger space or a lot of reorganizing to do, use the tried-and-true three-pile system in various areas around the home (i.e., three piles in the garage, three in the living room and so on).

3. Assess Every Object

Now it’s time to tackle each pile. It may sound cliché at this point, but following Marie Kondo’s popular advice — holding objects in your hand and asking whether or not they spark joy — is an easy way to let go of items you find yourself struggling to part with.

Some objects will be even easier to purge. Before getting philosophical, get utilitarian. Look for items that lack value or usability, such as: 

  • Expired pantry goods, medications and makeup.
  • Old bills and receipts.
  • Clothes that no longer fit.
  • Outdated magazines and newspapers.
  • Broken electronics.

Don’t Forget to Tackle the Fridge

It’s a small task, but purging your fridge can make you feel like a new person. 

Take everything out and toss expired foods or condiments you’ve opened and rarely used. Then clean the whole fridge with a vinegar-lemon juice mix and reorganize what’s left by putting frequently used items front and center and lesser-used stuff in the back. And while you’re at it, don’t forget the pantry.

4. Put Everything in Its Right Place

Now that you have your “keep” pile (or piles) sorted, it’s time to put everything in its right place. Professional NYC organizer Andrew Mellen suggests following these three rules for home organizing:

  • Every object should have a spot where it lives.
  • All like objects should live together.
  • When you get something new, something else should go out (whether donated, sold, given away or trashed).

 

As far as your “donate” pile, head to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army to drop them off, or consider working with organizations in your community that rely on donated goods to put together care packages for the homeless

If you have items that are more valuable, like furniture, appliances, jewelry or electronics, sell them on secondhand sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or Poshmark to pocket some holiday gift cash, then make your donation rounds. Don’t forget to collect donation receipts for tax season.

5. Rethink Your Layout

Now it’s time to have fun with all the space you’ve created. Reimagining your living space can be a great way to start the new year fresh. As you tidy up your home, think about any small pain points you’ve experienced in your living space in the past year. By pain points, we mean moments where you found yourself disliking something about your home. This can be a sharp coffee table corner that you kept bumping into, a lack of cabinet space in the kitchen or a dark nook that could benefit from a lamp. 

Find ways to optimize your layout with items you already have, and play with the configuration of your furniture just to see how they feel. Consider taping down lines representing how you usually move through a room and reorganizing furniture to accommodate that. 

Speaking to HouseBeautiful, DIY guru Jo Behari reminds us that rethinking a room’s geography is an opportunity to start fresh: 

“To plan the room effectively, you need to detach yourself from its current use. List all the functions you need it to accommodate – be it lounging, entertaining, office space, kids' den, adult living area – literally anything that you want it to be.”

6. Remember to Have Fun With It

According to the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers, about 82% of people experience “mess stress,” with about 44% feeling it at least once a week. 

There’s a legitimate mental health component to tidying up and reorganizing, which makes it especially important to put it on your list of things to do before the new year. It also emphasizes how important it is to make the process easy, enjoyable and — as much as possible — something that feels like your own.

Some ideas to make cleaning more enjoyable: 

  • Invite a friend over to help you clean.
  • Take (and share) before and after pictures of the process.
  • Involve your kids (and reward them).
  • Treat yourself to something small for every area you clean.

Tip: Nothing helps New Year’s cleaning go by more quickly than a festive playlist. If you’re looking to break free from the classics, there’s a good chance some of your favorite artists have fresh takes on seasonal staples, or you can explore neglected holiday genres like soul, country and hip-hop. 


As for full album recs, James Brown’s Funky Christmas makes for feel-good cleaning, and Dolly Parton’s A Holly Dolly Christmas keeps things fresh with guests like Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus and Michael Bublé.

7. Still Struggling? Start With Just One Thing

Like Nikki Bell says, “The clutter didn’t arrive in one day, so don’t expect it to vacate in a day.” Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to getting everything done at once or even before January 1st. 

Take a breath. Try dividing your clutter areas into a few different categories and starting with one. Remind yourself that taking just one step is a huge improvement over staying in place. And don’t forget to take lots of cocoa breaks along the way.

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