Hi there, so 2021 is well under way and like most of you, I have organizing on my mind. I thought I would share a few tips and plans as well as my list of spaces to organize in your home in the new year.
We are on the second week, but some are small (intentionally) so if you double up one week then at the end of the year you will have tackled at least one a week and have an organized home! This will be a two part blog post and you can find the second post here.
A note on organizing large spaces
For larger spaces, I recommend breaking into multiple areas and feel free to go as micro as you wish. One organized shelf is better than none. I use my 5 steps to organize anything for every space. As I mention in that post, a large space can be daunting to empty out all the contents as some pro organizers recommend. I find tackling one shelf or area that you can comfortably organize in a day or weekend is better. Making a bigger mess trying to organize is not the goal!
Disposing of unwanted items
Also, there are multiple ways of decluttering and disposing of your unwanted items. Here is a short summary of what I have found helpful. I plan to add more detail in a coming post.
- Discard. The first and easiest is trash. Keep a trash container close to you when tackling a space. Packaging, broken items and other unwanted stuff goes right into the bag.
- Donate. I have a wonderful thrift shop in my town where I donate items and then the thrift shop sells them in a lovely shop. All proceeds go to charity. For anything of value that I simply do not want I tend to donate here. Goodwill is also a good option. I find they take everything. Of course friends and family may want your items. But they may not! Be careful about giving old items without asking.
- Sell. Selling for me is a good option for items such as sports equipment or children’s toys and furniture. We have a local Facebook group that connects to Facebook marketplace. I would recommend you proceed carefully. I tend to stick to my town and it is easy enough to check out a person’s profile to make sure they actually live locally. For clothing, I have found that teen clothing does very well at Plato’s Closet and there is minimal work involved. Thred Up is another online thrift shop. As you receive little for clothing, I prefer to donate most clothes.
I also give myself a set time to remove the items from my home. I used to struggle with this – I was great at identifying what to get rid of but not so good at actually taking it out! A week is a reasonable time frame in my case.
Also, I recently added a donate box in my laundry room. I try to either identify 5 items a day to either donate or discard. When the box is full I give myself a week to remove it and either donate or sell. So far, it has worked very well. My children also add to it as they outgrow clothing.
Top spaces to organize in your home
With the above in mind, here are my top places to declutter and organize in your home this year.
- Desk files. This one could be broken into as many weeks as you need. A few categories I am tackling include old credit card statements, (I keep a year on a rolling basis and organize by month so when the new year’s month is here I throw out the year before), car repair files and medical. Once I get through that I will go through files from former jobs. There is debate on whether to keep these items at all? I prefer to at least have the last year on hand for most categories.
- Desk drawer. I have two desk drawers that tend to collect items and plan to go through all the odds and ends, pens (do they work?) and office supplies. I love rewarding myself after decluttering and organizing and have my eye on some coordinated blush pink pens and this acrylic, monogrammed pen holder to display them on my desk. Another organizing tip: if it is pretty you will likely want to keep it that way!
- Pantry. This can be a big job. I tend to do a review and clean out every November before the holidays start. On a monthly basis, I take a look at staples to see what is short on supply and buy new items as needed.
- Junk drawers. I have three junk drawers. They are actually no longer used for “junk.” One holds cooking related items such as recipes I prefer to have on paper (if they tend to be long, I would rather look at print), chip clips and fridge liners and drying mats for the dishes. The other one has our note pads used for shopping lists, pens, scissors, and a space for take out coupons. The last one stores electronics. These general groupings make it easy for me to go through quickly and remove any items that no longer work or seem out of place.
- Tupperware/Storage. This is a big one too. I finally donated any pyrex without lids. We also instituted a system where the lid goes on the container when storing out of the dishwasher. I had a rack for lids but that system did not work at all! Have you found that to be the case?
- Attic. So this one is almost complete for me and it took me three days. I need to add some labels so that the rest of the family knows where to put luggage, extra storage containers etc. I also finally donated my girls’ stuffed animal collection (four bags!) and will confess I just could not do it the first time I faced that the girls were no longer playing with stuffed animals. So I stored them and this time I was more than happy to donate to a place that wanted them. Sometimes you may need a little time mamas…do not be hard on yourself if you do.
- Basement. I tackled the basement over holiday break. It took me three days and like the attic it was a refresher. Post holiday it always tends to accumulate as we decide which Christmas decorations are going up and which stay stored. This time I went shelf by shelf. I labeled areas for each appliance and if something did not fit, donated it. I also tackled some gifts that we simply do not use and gave those to our local thrift shop.
- Holiday decorations. This one I tackled a few years ago but every year I do a review. This year I identified items for donation. My girls loved colored lights when they were little. We now have white lights. The thrift shop will be getting some very nice colored lights next year:) I put the box on top with a note to myself, so next season I will remember to bring it over.
- Closets. This one is an ongoing project. I plan to break it into 1) shoes 2) clothes (work and casual) 3) miscellaneous. So far, I have tackled my and Mr. SB dress shoes. I donated shoes we were not wearing. My rule is that if shoes do not fit into the existing racks, then I need to find a few to donate.
- Under the beds. Do you store items under the bed? I find this space to be a terrible place to store anything because I forget about it! One solution, is to either not store anything or use clear storage containers. I also will leave myself a note in a prominent place that reminds me that I stored my summer shorts or whatever under the bed!
- Bookshelves. I have two book shelves in our living area and books all over the house. We are book worms. I want to tackle the books as well as display them and other objects from our travels in a beautiful way. I look forward to sharing that project.
- Coat closet. We have two coat closets. I bought two new coats at the J. Crew holiday sale (and they are on sale now!). One in pink (The Lady Coat) and one in green (I love them both!). That means I need to donate two of my existing coats. I do try the one in one out for clothing as much as possible. Once you hit your max on storage, that is the only way to maintain an organized, decluttered space. I have also plan to identify any shoes that no one wears any longer and store the summer shoes in the attic.
- Gardening supplies. I have this on the calendar for Spring. We store gardening items in our garage. Every year I seem to accumulate a few more pots so I try to donate some as well.
- Tools/Workbench. This may be more my husband’s area but I did buy a pegboard set of attachments on Amazon which will help organize the rolls of tape, wire and other odds and ends.
- Cars. Yes, I include cars. In each car, I store snow removal items (during winter), sunscreen (during summer), water bottles, a warm blanket, a bright yellow, reflective vest and some protein bars in case of an emergency. I also have $20 in the glove box where I also keep the insurance and registration. Other items I store include masks (#Covid19), reusable shopping bags and hand sanitizer. That said, there always seems to be other items that are not needed. A regular review of items is warranted every few months.
Check back in for the remaining spaces to organize in your home in the new year. It may just inspire your own decluttering and organizing journey for 2021.