Right about now, we’re thinking about all the things in our lives we want to overhaul—wardrobes, diets, relationships, careers. Hey, it’s the New Year—it’s only natural! There’s one more thing we’re adding to our lists: Getting an organized home. From our overflowing closets to our crazy kitchen cabinets, we could all probably use a dose of good old decluttering.
Luckily, this is the perfect time to do just that. According to Tova Weinstock, who runs the professional organization service Tidy Tova, the beginning of the year is great time to take stock and downsize. “The New Year is the time to establish new behaviors and habits, and to reflect on what you didn’t need in the last year,” Weinstock said.
But easier said than done, right? Not if you start small, Weinstock advises. Here, the organizational guru spills her four-step plan for getting ahead of the clutter now—for good.
“Take out a piece of paper and jot down some of the ways disorganization is affecting your life.” Maybe you’re always late for work because your closet’s a disaster or the jam-packed medicine cabinet is causing you to bicker with your husband. “Once you have concrete examples, you’ll realize which space needs the most immediate solution,” says Weinstock. “Blast some tunes, take a deep breath, and get moving.”
Think about which things you haven’t used in the last few months, then be ruthless and realistic. Haven’t worn that pink angora sweater since you bought it two years ago? Didn’t play tennis once last summer? “Then you probably won’t in the coming year,” says Weinstock. “Remember your belongings are yours and you can control them.”
Once you’ve got your goods under control, treat yourself. Just be sure to choose a non clutter-inducing reward, like a great dinner or a massage. “The best way to establish a new habit is to pat yourself on the back,” Weinstock says. “It gives you incentive and makes you feel good.”
This is tricky for most people, but it doesn’t have to be. Weinstock recommends blocking off just ten minutes at the end of each day for straightening up: “Hang up your clothes, clean the dirty dishes, and recycle that junk mail. A daily dose of organization will keep you afloat—and keep you from being overwhelmed.”
Need extra help streamlining? Here are Weinstock’s picks for getting—and staying—coordinated.
“These are wonderful for utilizing all the vertical space in closets and cabinets.”
$6.99; at The Container Store
Mesh Drawer Organizers
“Contain skincare products, hair accessories, and any other loose items in your medicine cabinet with a small mesh bin.” These also work in the kitchen, too!
$2.49; at The Container Store
Magnetic Knife Strips
“Suspending knives on the wall frees up space in your kitchen drawers—and makes for an easy grab while chopping!”
$49.95 at Williams-Sonoma
“Keep grains and cereal fresh—and maximize space in cabinets—with clear containers.”
$65.99; at Kohl’s
“Perfect for categorizing and storing sentimental items like letters, cards, and concert tickets.”
$4.99; at Smead
“Create a place to store your keys and wallet so you always know where they are. Find a tray you love and keep by your front door.”
West Elm Heritage Catchall, $19
“Utilize the inside walls of closets by installing hooks—they’re great for hanging accessories like belts and scarves, plus they’re easy to install and remove.”
$3.90; at Uline