Happy New Year everyone!! I am so excited to get this 2015 party started! How many of you made a resolution to get more organized this year? I view organization as more of a process, rather than a destination, so I’m always thinking about how I can tweak and improve my systems. While the beginning of a New Year isn’t the only time you can start getting your life more organized, it’s the time of year many people start thinking about it.
While I think it is a great idea to make getting organized your resolution for the New Year, I am always an advocate for breaking larger goals down into manageable tasks. So instead of having a constant goal of “getting more organized”, I want to help you start thinking about how exactly you are going to achieve that goal.
What does “organized” look like to you? This can mean different things to different people. What can you do to reach your ideal goal of being organized? How will you know when you have succeeded your goal of getting more organized? This list will help you get started answering some of those questions. I’ve rounded up 20 specific actions you can take this New Year to help make it a more organized new year!
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Steps to an Organized New Year
1. Start using a planner
My number one suggestion for getting organized will always be start using a planner. Having one place to write down all your to-dos, appointments, errands and anything else that needs to be remembered is absolutely invaluable. Start here to get some inspiration for organizing with a planner.
2. Take an organization inventory
A great place to start organizing your life is actually making a list of what exactly needs to be organized. Take out a piece of paper (or make a list in your planner) and write down everything in your home or life you’d like to get more organized. Having a concrete list to work through will enable you to tackle one thing at a time, and check them off as you go!
3. Develop organizational systems
Setting a few simple systems in place in your life can make a huge difference. Organizational systems help instill order and direction for everyday tasks, such as putting away groceries, doing laundry or getting ready each morning. Systems ensure everything gets done efficiently, correctly, and in an organized fashion.
4. Organize your entryway
The entryway of your home is, obviously, the entry point for everything that comes into your home. This makes it a prime target for dumping those things and ‘forgetting’ to put them away for a week, which leads to clutter and chaos. Think about how you use your entryway, and what you need from your entryway. Set up a few basic systems to fit your needs (such as a bowl for keys, some hooks for coats, a rack for shoes, etc.) and say goodbye to entryway clutter!
5. Follow a chore routine
Another great system to set in place this year is a solid cleaning routine. Routinely cleaning your home lessens the risk of clutter and mess piling up. The key is to start with something simple and easy to maintain, then build from there, so as to not get overwhelmed by trying to do it all right from the beginning.
6. Purge unnecessary clutter
To put it simply, the less stuff you have, the less there is to keep organized. Do I need to say more? Go through everything you own and get rid of anything that is not useful, sentimental or beautiful. If it does nothing for you, it’s just taking up space.
7. Sort mail as soon as it enters the house
One of the biggest sources of clutter in a lot of homes is mail. Whether it’s junk mail, bills or catalogs, mail has a way of just piling up. To avoid this, get in the habit of sorting mail immediately after bringing it in. Toss what’s trash, and appropriately deal with what isn’t.
8. Never put dishes in the sink
Another clutter hot spot can be the kitchen sink if you aren’t diligent. If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, dishes should always go immediately in after use. If you don’t have a dishwasher, or use dishes that are not dishwasher safe, wash them by hand immediately after use. Washing a single dish after a each meal is so much easier than an entire day’s worth of dishes every night. And your kitchen will look a million times better without dirty dishes piled up.
9. Use to-do lists
To-do lists are a great organizational tool. Writing down all your tasks that need to get done ensures nothing gets forgotten and you are always aware of what still has to get checked off. To-do lists are super simple, yet are super powerful when used correctly. Learn how to write a better to do list here.
10. Put your smartphone to work
Paper planners aren’t the only tool in your organizational toolbox. Your smartphone has a million apps that can be used to help you organize your life! From calendars to grocery lists, there’s an app for every organizational need under the sun. I talk about my favorite apps for staying organized here and here.
11. Make and follow a financial plan
Make 2015 the year you finally get your money organized. There isn’t any feeling worse than being out of control of your finances. Make a financial planner, write out a budget, and organize your money!
12. Don’t over-schedule
Nothing will make you feel more overwhelmed and less organized than an overbooked calendar. Over-committing yourself will only lead to stress, chaos and less time for the things that truly matter to you. It is ok to say no to anything you cannot fit into your busy schedule.
13. Everything gets a place
Make sure everything in your home has a designated “spot” where it belongs. Cleanup will be so much easier if you know where everything is supposed to go. It will also avoid things being left out and cluttering up your home because they truly have no where to be put away. If anything in your home doesn’t have a ‘spot’, make one!
14. Use a family calendar
Using a planner is great, but it can only go so far if the rest of your household has no idea what is going on. Whether you have a spouse and a few kids, or are just living with a roommate, a central calendar is a great tool to make sure everyone stays on the same page. This will help avoid double booking events, or rushing at the last minute to get to a forgotten appointment.
15. Nightly 5-minute pickup
Taking five minutes at the end of each night to pick up and put away whatever clutter you can is a life saver. Dedicating those five short minutes helps avoid clutter build ups. This means no more state of emergency cleaning days when you can no longer see your coffee table or navigate your bedroom.
16. Weekly 30-minute cleaning session
Going along with the suggestion above, you can also do short regular cleaning sessions each weekend. Set a timer for 30-minutes, start with what needs the most attention, and clean whatever you can in that time. You will have plenty of time to clean the truly important things, and it will again help avoid those major day long scrubbing on your hands and knees cleaning marathons.
17. Start meal planning
Oh meal planning. The favorite organizational tool of many a family. Having your meals planned out each week not only saves you the panic of “what the heck are we going to eat tonight?!” but it also actually helps save money. With a meal plan, you can do one shopping trip at the beginning of each week, reducing the risk of impulse buys from multiple trips to the store. With a plan in place, you will also only be buying the food you actually need and will eat.
18. Pick outfits at beginning of each week
This is another great time saving trick. Knowing what you’re going to wear each day will cut down on the time it takes trying to pick out your outfit when your half asleep and can’t quit think straight yet. It will make your mornings less rushed, and will start your day off much smoother.
19. Break large goals down into small tasks
Make things easier on yourself by breaking larger projects down into manageable tasks. Just like we did with getting organized in this post, focus on actionable tasks rather than vague goals. This will help you stay organized and know exactly what you need to be working on to achieve your goals.
20. Schedule down time
Finally, make sure you actively schedule time for yourself to just sit down and relax. If you are always running around trying to get everything under the sun done, of course you are going to feel disorganized! Think of organization as a state of mind, if you are relaxed and not stressed, you will feel more organized and in control. So make plans with a bubble bath or a good book, you deserve it!
Pick a few things off this list to start working on today, and then tackle some more when you feel ready! Resolutions don’t have to be an all or nothing immediately on January 1st thing. Take your time, add things in when you can handle them, and 2015 will be your most organized new year yet!
Ready to get started? Here are some great resources to help you on your way: