Making resolutions is just as much a part of the New Year celebrations as fizz and fireworks, so if your organization levels are somewhat lacking, now’s the time to make some changes. Not only will it benefit your home, but your lifestyle, too.
‘Having an organized, tidy home will reduce time spent cleaning, help lower anxiety as you’ll know where everything is, increase productivity, improve head space and allow you to enjoy your surroundings more – it’s a resolution worth making’, says professional organizer Vicky Silverthorn, founder of You Need a Vicky.
The problem is, when it comes to successful home organizing ideas, there’s all manner of ‘must-do’ advice out there. From decluttering tips and home storage ideas to organizational strategies and cleaning routines, not to mention all the organization mistakes to avoid, too. It’s impossible to do it all, so how are you supposed to know which of them are resolution-worthy?
That’s where we come in. We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of the resolutions we – and the experts – recommend you make in order to keep on top of organization now, and throughout the year ahead.
New Year’s resolutions you need to make to stay organized
Making resolutions is one thing, but if you’re really serious about sticking to them, you’re best off starting with a clean slate. In the spirit of new beginnings, it’s best you wise up on a few post-Christmas decluttering rules and cleaning tips to ensure your house is in tip top shape before the ball drops. Start as you mean to go on, and all that…
1. Put things away, right away
If you (or someone else in your household) is in the habit of leaving things out long after they’ve been used, it’s time to commit to the one-touch tidying rule – don’t put things down, put things away.
‘When you’re done using something, put it back in its place. If it doesn't have a place, store it where you use it. And if you're not using it, get rid of it – it’s just clutter at this point’, says professional organizer Bonnie Borromeo Tomlinson, author of Stop Pushing Perfection, available to buy on Amazon.
2. Give everything a home
Putting something back where it belongs is a lot harder when it doesn’t belong anywhere, so resolve to give everything you own a home. You’ll be amazed how much time you save looking for things, and it makes for a much neater-looking space, too.
‘Don’t buy anything unless you know exactly where it’s going to go in your home. We often see piles and piles of Amazon boxes where people have bought things on a whim, only to leave them unused, gathering dust, so before you click "buy now", give it a few hours. Ask yourself if you really need that item – chances are you don’t’, says professional organizer Kim Jones, founder of Lock & Key Home.
3. Take a more mindful approach to shopping
The key to a well-organized home is to think like a minimalist – the less ‘stuff’ you have to manage, the better. If you’re guilty of overbuying, setting strict boundaries can really help. Try the ‘one-in-one-out rule’; for every item you bring in, get rid of one you no longer need. This helps you to be more mindful, and encourages regular decluttering, too.
4. Declutter regularly
It's a good start, but one big clear out at the start of the year isn’t enough. A well-organized home requires maintenance. If you’re not consistently sorting through items, clutter will soon build and you’re right back at square one. Schedule in regular decluttering sessions to ensure you’re not hanging on to items you don’t need.
‘Whether you’re decluttering clothes, toys or general homeware, be sure to factor in time for dropping off donations there and then, so they’re not sitting in your car for months on end’ adds professional organizer Theresa Russell, founder of Home & Heal.
If you find you’re finding it hard to stick to set decluttering sessions, consider leaving a ‘donation box’ somewhere easily accessible (in the utility room or inside a closet for example), that you can throw items into as and when you come across them.
5. Use what you have before buying more
With stores constantly pushing multibuys and advertisers pushing those ‘just in case’ purchases, chances are your home houses a multitude of seemingly ‘practical’ items that you don’t actually need. Well not yet, anyway.
Whether your problem area is cleaning products, toiletries or pantry staples, make a point of finishing what you have before buying anything new. With just this one resolution, you’ll have a more organized home, reduce waste, and likely save a bit of money on top – bonus!
6. Go paperless
Going paperless is one of the most productive steps you can take toward a well-organized home, and it’s good for the planet. Gather all your paperwork together and work through it piece by piece, filing documents you need to retain hard copies of and shredding those you no longer need.
To keep paper clutter to a minimum going forward, opt-in for digital versions where you can. Most companies offer this service, but you could scan documents if you prefer – just remember to keep on top of digital clutter, too.
7. Keep surfaces clear
Whether it’s organizing kitchen countertops, clearing bedside tables or decluttering a desk, keeping surfaces clear at all times makes your home look and feel well-organized, even if it’s not quite the case behind closed doors (don’t worry, we won’t look inside).
Clearing surfaces is easy, but keeping them clear is more of a challenge, particularly if you’re organizing small spaces. If you want a strategy you can stick to throughout the year, it’s important you be realistic.
‘While we do say the clearer the better, surfaces tend to offer up "easy-to-access" storage opportunities that can’t be overlooked. The trick is to establish sensible (and stylish) systems to suit. Clear, stackable containers (like these from Target) for organizing makeup, trinket trays for organizing jewelry, good-looking canisters for containing keys, loose change, and other countertop clutter… you get the idea’, says Millie Hurst, Solved section editor at Homes & Gardens.
8. Make organizing part of your daily routine
As much as we may start the new year with militant expectations, it’s important to remember you’re only human – life happens, it’s impossible to keep things pristine all the time. If you stray from your resolutions occasionally, don’t stress about it; little and often is enough to keep on top of things. A ten-minute tidy before bed is a common practice of the pros.
If you’re really struggling to stick to your resolutions, Theresa Russell recommends ‘habit stacking’. ‘Adding an organizational habit around one you have already built acts as a reminder to get the job done; for example, after I drink my morning coffee I will wash the dishes or when I brush my teeth I will spend five minutes organizing a bathroom’, she says.
What three things should you do every day to stay organized?
The best way to organize your house (and ensure it stays that way) is to incorporate simple habits into your daily routine. What these are will depend on you, your lifestyle and just how organized you’d like to be, but there’s three in particular that we’d recommend to everyone. They’re easy to do too, so no excuses!
First up, always put things away straight after you’ve used them. This prevents clutter building up, and makes you less likely to lose things, too. Secondly, be mindful of any item you’re bringing into the home (do you really need it) as well as where you’re putting it – surfaces should be kept clear, so be sure you find a home for anything new straight away. Lastly, set aside 10 minutes at the end of each day for a quick tidy up.
It’s one thing you making New Year’s resolutions for a more organized home, but if the other members of your household don’t share your enthusiasm, it’s going to be an uphill struggle. Rather than going straight in with strict ground rules, sit down together and discuss the benefits that will come from being more organized as a family, and what the year ahead could look like.
'Consider setting up some clear glass jars, such as these from Amazon, so that people can tally up their decluttering wins with beads or marbles,' says Millie Hurst. It may sound silly, but it's a great way to register the satisfaction of completing a task and motivate you to clean and declutter in the future.'
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For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.
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