How to declutter and get organized in the new year

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For those seeking to be more organized and declutter their home in 2022, two words: start somewhere. Really, though, we know it can be daunting to know where to start (especially when you’ve accumulated even more goods during the holiday season), but getting started — even if it’s just a small step — beats staying paralyzed. Below, organization gurus weigh in with their best advice for getting your home in order.

1. If you’re going for a total overhaul, start by conducting a home inventory.

Once you create a home inventory, you’ll be so glad you did. 

If you’re going for a total overhaul, start by conducting a home inventory. (iStock)

If you’re going for a total overhaul, start by conducting a home inventory. (iStock)

“The first tip to decluttering your home starts with taking a home inventory which includes itemizing and taking photos of your personal property,” Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of a digital home management and organizing software platform HomeZada who also served on the Board of the National Association of Professional Organizers from 2013 to 2016, tells Fox News. “This means going into each room in the house one by one and documenting all the items which include furniture, electronics, decorative items, houseware, clothing, tools and any collections like wine, jewelry, coins, art, antiques, sports memorabilia, etc. The first value of doing this is ending up with a home inventory for insurance purposes to make sure you are not under-insured, and you are prepared to make a claim if a disaster strikes such as a tornado, wildfire, hurricane, flood, etc. damages your home.”

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As you start this process you’ll find things in each room in the house and you can ask yourself if you really need something anymore or not. “This process then turns into decluttering the physical things in your home because people make the emotional decision to either give those items away to family, friends, charity or just throw them away,” says Dodson. “Essentially, the process ends up with decluttering your home and getting a digital home inventory for insurance purposes for all the personal property that remains in the home after decluttering.”

2. Take out the trash.

OK, we admit, the home inventory may be daunting for some, but this tip to take out the trash from Julie Onstot, the owner of SortWell Organizing Co. based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is totally doable. 

“Just get a trash bag, walk around your house, and start putting things in it. You won’t be able to really see what needs sorting until you get rid of the true trash surrounding it,” says Onstot. “This can be done over a period of a few days, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. But give yourself a clearer path to clutter-free by literally clearing the path.”

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Big goals are great, but if you find yourself getting tripped on them and overwhelmed at the prospect of organizing your entire home, embrace this attitude. (iStock)

Big goals are great, but if you find yourself getting tripped on them and overwhelmed at the prospect of organizing your entire home, embrace this attitude. (iStock)

3. Hone in on all the paper around your home or apartment.

You know what we’re talking about: the unopened mail, the old stack of newspapers or magazines, the product instruction manuals and warranties, the receipts you’ve been holding onto and aren’t sure why. 

“Most people have boxes in the closet filled with owners manuals, folders of paper in a desk about the mortgage and sales documents when you bought the home, a stack of product brochures for a home remodel you are planning for, a box of utility bills on the desk, and post-it notes and paper lists of all the things you need to fix or maintain the home,” says Dodson. “All of this paper scattered everywhere in the home means it takes you forever to find something, and it mentally wears on you about how unorganized you really are.”

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4. Get digitally organized.

Dodson urges clients to commit to getting digitally organized with all the data about your home.  

“Buy a scanner to scan all that paper. And find a mobile app to take pictures of that paper, so you can turn it into a digital record. Decide on a digital place to store this information, such as generic cloud platforms or specific digital home management platforms,” Dodson says. “You can even create a digital calendar that reminds you of important tasks, so you can eliminate the paper lists of to-dos. The end result is peace of mind in being digitally organized around everything in your home from remodel projects, maintenance and fix-it tasks, home finances, and all your home documents easily searchable and retrievable whenever you need it,” she continues. Now, doesn’t that feel amazing?

5. Commit to less storage.

Commit to less storage. You may be amazed at what a big difference this makes. (iStock)

Commit to less storage. You may be amazed at what a big difference this makes. (iStock)

You can do it, and you may be amazed at what a big difference this makes. 

“I realize that sounds counterintuitive. But hear me out — a lot of times we feel the need to get ‘more’ in terms of product to get organized,” shares Onstot. “But really, you should set a goal to minimize your stuff. If you buy more bins, then you’ll feel the urge to fill more bins. More hangers? More clothes to put on them. By reducing the storage, you’ll feel more encouraged to only use what you really need. And it will help you focus on those buzzwords we all love: ‘joy,’ ‘purpose’ and ‘function.’”

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6. Start small.

Big goals are great, but if you find yourself getting tripped on them and overwhelmed at the prospect of organizing your entire home, embrace this attitude. 

“If you have big goals, that’s great. But organizing can get overwhelming if you’re not prepared. So, start small. I often suggest your dresser or nightstand. What’s there that can go away? Probably trash, dishes or books you’ve finished,” says Onstot. “Try to clear off at least one or two things. Once those smaller spaces feel cleaner, you can move onto bigger spaces that need some love. And you’ll feel better about tackling even the smallest space because it’s a check off the to-do list.”

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7. If it’s got a label, put it away.

If it's got a label, put it away. (iStock)

If it’s got a label, put it away. (iStock)

“I’m not talking about labels for organizing. I’m talking about an actual product. All those new face creams and beauty products that came in your stocking — get them under the counter or tucked away in a drawer,” advises Onstot. “All the different colors and words are distracting and make the space feel cluttered. If you need to use counter space, put out the items you use most often and find a different container. This doesn’t have to be expensive — I like to reuse candle jars (freeze them and the wax will easily pop out!) or mason jars for things like hair ties, Q-tips and cotton balls.” 

Or repurpose other household items, like shoe organizers as pantry storage, utensils organizers as inserts into desk drawers, and empty storage items to, you know, actually store things.

For more New Year’s resolution ideas, plus how to crush them, click here.

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