Decluttering for the New Year 

Goals like “getting organized” usually appear at the top of many people’s New Year’s Resolutions this season. Those two words can cover a lot of ground, everything from being more efficient at work to getting better at juggling your daily schedule. One way to find success with that organizational goal is to be super specific about what you want to accomplish. Try focusing on decluttering – your home, your schedule, even your social life – for the New Year.  

Clutter takes lots of forms. In homes, the biggest producers of clutter are typically kids or adults who don’t routinely pick up after themselves. It can also happen when people have too many things jammed into small living spaces. How do you know it’s become an issue in your home? If you’re trying to set the table for dinner and you’ve got to clear the space first, it’s cluttered. Or maybe you want to settle in to watch TV, but items are covering your couch or chairs. That means it’s time to take action.  

Living in a cluttered space can actually negatively affect our mental and physical health, according to research shared by WebMD. One study showed women who characterized their homes as being cluttered had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause high blood pressure, weight gain and feelings of depression. Being in a space that feels disorganized can also make it hard for some people to concentrate, especially people with ADHD, research has shown.  

To get on the clutter-free track for the New Year, make a short but effective plan for your lifestyle.  

Inside your home. Once you’ve done a general pickup and put things in their place, here are some easy tips to help keep the clutter to a minimum. 

  • Have a place for coats, boots, hats and mittens, and not in a jumble by the door. A boot tray with a basket to hold hats and mittens will keep things neat. 
  • Make one spot for keys and mail, backpacks and purses. 
  • After each meal, make sure the kitchen counters are bare and cleaned off. Ditto for the dining room or kitchen table.  
  • Target items for donation, including clothes you haven’t worn in the last year, older dishes or storage containers, toys and sporting equipment. 
  • Make one sweep each day after work to pick up clutter, or assign each child a space to declutter. If done daily, it will take only minutes.  

Your schedule. Carve out a few minutes at the beginning of each week to scroll through your calendar for the days ahead. Make sure reminders are set for appointments, and cancel any appointments you don’t intend to keep. 

Your social life. Decluttering your social life is a little trickier, because it revolves around other people or organizations you might be a part of. But overscheduling or spending your time doing things you don’t enjoy is a form of clutter that takes a real toll on how you feel. So be a little selfish. Look at your social engagements and determine what you really want to do, and what events, groups or invitations are not priorities. That way, you’ll have more time in the New Year for the things you enjoy. 


Photo credit: Getty Images

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