As with every start of the New Year, there are promises of resolution. Eat right, work out, save money, organize — all nice gestures towards a better you. But the problem is always momentum, isn’t it? How do you maintain your resolutions past week two? Maybe if we kept up the practice, we wouldn’t have to start anew every January.
So this year, in hopes of tackling a resolution we think we can keep, we’re focusing on de-cluttering, purging and generally staying organized as far as our “stuff” is concerned. Gathering our in-house expertise and that of some professional organizers, movers and de-clutterers, we have some realistic goals to turn your resolution into a year-long practice.
Firstly, give yourself a break, alright? Your mess doesn’t have to transform over night. Give a couple weeks to get your hallway/closet/pantry/office in order. In fact, that’s the key to maintaining your pristine new you. Once you’re there, adopt the rule that when you bring something in, take something out. This way new stuff won’t pile up and old stuff is routinely evaluated on its necessity.
Clean The Closet
Clothes are more disposable than they’ve ever been and as such, your closets are bursting at the seam. As noted in New York Magazine, Elizabeth Cline reports in Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, the average US consumer buys 68 items of clothes every year —that’s more than one item per week. Is that you?
If so, try to purge clothes every week if you want to stay clutter free. Or perhaps consider buying less and buying better. With a few quality staples, you can dress outfits with accessories if you need a new look everyday. Then you’ll feel better putting more money and thought into your regularly rotated basics.
- To get started, first take stock of everything you have. Pull it out of drawers, closets, storage and take inventory.
- Next, ask yourself the hard questions: Are you going to wear that neon pink tankini you bought in 8th grade? (Literally a question we’ve asked ourselves many a time.) Try things on, examine their state and be honest with yourself.
- Evaluate what you own. If you have 12 teal pairs of dungarees, you know not to buy more, even if they ARE on sale.
- Then create three piles: Keep It, Sell It, Donate It. Neatly fold and put away the stuff you’re keeping, bag up what you’re donating, and get to Krrbing what you’re selling. That, or have the best dang garage sale in your neighborhood.
Organize The Office
And speaking of your office, sure, most of us aren’t printing out emails (seriously, who does that?) but we still have old bills, papers, documents, files and folders. And it’s ok to keep what’s important. Don’t go throwing out your children’s birth certificates. But maybe toss the receipt for the VCR you bought to rent Back to the Future Part 2.
- Develop a filing system, whether it’s a filing cabinet or folders so that when you receive something worth saving, you can take action immediately.
- Get a trash can. That way you can immediately trash what you don’t need.
- Get a calendar. When you receive a piece of mail with a date on it, you can add it to your calendar instead of keeping that paper.
Perfect The Pantry
Pantry, cupboards, drawers: regardless of the name, we know they’re all filled with well-intentioned ingredients that have been sitting there waiting to be turned into your bakery projects for five plus years. Or there’s that time when you decided that you were going on an all-quinoa diet when it was the new super-food, now you’ve got jars of the red, white and black, lonely and abandoned. Just picture your shelves, every spice, grain and random can in the continental US collecting dust, waiting to be put to good use. Here’s some fun ideas slash food challenges to carry out until you’re cleaned out.
- Mark your spices and pantry items with dates so you know when to toss them to the curb. Also group your like-minded items together so you clearly know what you have.
- Once a week, make a meal using only items you find in your pantry.
- Plan your meals around what you already have. Search for recipes that include jarred lemon grass — your whole repertoire could be flipped upside down.
- Speaking of learning in the kitchen, how many forgotten spices do you own? Challenge yourself to master a new spice every month until you’re versatile enough to throw it together without a recipe. If you bought Tumeric for that one Indian meal you made and now it’s sitting there completely full, find out how else Tumeric transforms an ingredient.
- And since spices often come in larger amounts than what’s needed, see if your neighbors will take some off your hands, or even go in on some the next time you’re in the market.
- And of course, donate what you aren’t going to eat.
And Make it Fun!
There are two camps of people. Those that like cleaning and those that don’t. But what those that don’t, don’t know is that it’s fun! Super fun! Ish. All you need is a little auditory assistance and you’re on your way. Start by making a playlist, or listening to ours. Or find some podcasts, like this, this or that, to keep your mind in one place while you’re elbow deep in piles of papers.
Planning and Scheduling Are Your Friends
Decluterring Specialist and Organizing Consultant, Michelle Monroe Morton knows that the enthusiasm wanes. She says, “People don’t plan, they go out and buy things to help them get organized when they don’t really know what they need. Starting with a plan as simple as sitting down and writing out the pros and cons of the space to find out
what works and what doesn’t and work from there”.
Whether you’re meal planning or filling out a wardrobe, knowing what you need before getting to the shop or logging on is going to cut the glut. Also plans are useful for scheduled organizing days. Put it on the calendar and stick to it. By having bi-weekly, monthly and seasonly scheduled times to tackle your spaces, you’ve built the activity into your life, making it easier that much easier to accomplish.
If its scheduled into bite sized chunks, you aren’t overwhelmed with daunting projects that peter out. By breaking up your goals into day to day tasks, you’ll certainly find yourself not absconding on your resolutions till late August, at least.