No matter how many rooms or how much clutter you have to get through, starting with specific goals will help you create a plan that will reduce any frustration as you go. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started decluttering your home:. As you go through the rooms and spaces in your house, you will need a system for sorting the items you find. Gather three boxes or storage bins, label them as follows and then use the organizing tips below:.
Recycle: Recyclable glass, plastics and paper can go straight into your recycling bin if you have curbside pickup.
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Otherwise put your recyclables in bags so you can transport the waste to the nearest recycling drop off location. Many electronics can and should be recycled.
With over 1, kiosks in 42 states, EcoATM recycling kiosks can turn your old electronics into cash. Check prices for your old devices and use the ecoATM locator to see if there is one near you. Many items you find will have more than just a monetary value —they will stir up memories and have sentimental value.
These are real and valid feelings that make it challenging to part with our stuff. This rule tends to hold true for other things as well, such as video games, computer parts, books, DVDs, toys and more. In the world of economics, costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered are referred to as sunk costs.
As you go through the items in your house, most things should be considered sunk costs except for rare situations where an item may have increased in value. Since you cannot get the money back that you spent on that item, you should only think about the value that thing can add to your life in the future. Understanding this concept of sunk costs can help you make more rational decisions about what to keep and what you should toss.
See if it works. Think of the last time you used it. Track which items you actually use. Over the course of the year, when you use or wear an item put it back facing the opposite direction of the others. Ask yourself if you love it. Sleep on it. You can pull it out of the junk bin and put it away. Start with small decluttering projects that feel big. Many of these small, satisfying transformations only require a small investment of time!
Clear off flat surfaces. Countertops, shelves and other flat surfaces are clutter-magnets. Make space in drawers or add small boxes or bins to your shelves for paper items. Only keep frequently used, essential small appliances on kitchen countertops — the rest should be put away or donated if you never really use them. Skip to our room-by-room guides to get more tips on ridding flat surfaces of clutter in your kitchen , bathrooms , laundry room and home office.
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Keep like things together. Categorizing things as you go through them is imperative to organizing your home. In fact, keeping like things together forces you to organize your home. And it will make your life easier! CPO Liz Jenkins of A Fresh Space recommends first tackling categories of like things that may have spread to multiple rooms in your house. Now that you have the tools you need to tackle any decluttering project in your home, you are ready for our ridiculously thorough, room-by-room decluttering tips.
Decluttering room-by-room is the most efficient way to declutter and organize your home. And you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each room! Use your plan that you created as a guide and click the images below for decluttering how-tos for each room in your house. When you are ready to place items back into the drawers try adding dividers or small containers so you can store like things together. You can use small gift boxes, shoe boxes, cereal boxes or repurpose plastic containers to hold the items in the drawer.
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Or at least keep them almost clear. Moderation is key here. When you have fewer things cluttering the flat surfaces in your bedroom, the space will feel more calming and peaceful. Seasonal clothing, bedding or decorations can be easily stored in plastic or cloth bins that fit under the bed or in a closet. The process of going through clothes, shoes and other long-forgotten belongings will help you cleanse your house and your mind of any emotional baggage that may be connected to these items.
Be sure you keep your three bins nearby for this task as you follow these three ways to declutter your closet:. Your instinct will be to start from the top with the things that are hanging, but cleaning up and cleaning out the mess at the bottom of the closet is the better way to go. The same goes for shoes.
Start the year with the hangers' tips all facing the front of the closet backwards. After you wear something, put it back in the closet with the hanger facing the back. Avoid stacking clothing on shelves and storing stuff on shelves that can get buried under hanging clothes. Aside from items you store in containers, you should be able to see everything in your closet without moving too much.
Boxes and bins are recommended for storing smaller items on your closet shelves. Consider adding more shelving above things that you may keep at the bottom, like a vacuum cleaner or storage bins. You can also add hooks inside the door for brooms, mops and dustpans. Cleaning up your closets is guaranteed to improve your quality of life! Does your home office or workspace look like it was hit by a tornado?
Have no fear; our tips will help with the disaster cleanup. And as an added bonus, organizing your home office can actually make you more productive! For most people, office clutter consists of piles of bills, important documents, semi-important documents, receipts and other pieces of paper you "intended" to get to. Cleaning up the paper mess is likely half the battle!
The best way to start organizing your office is to sort papers into three piles: File, To-do and Trash. Challenge yourself to remove most items from your office desk, aside from your computer, a lamp and a few other essentials. Only keep items on your desk that you use frequently. Whenever possible you should store office supplies in drawers — table top organizers can easily get messy. Do your office drawers look like piles of junk when you open them up?
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We have three simple steps to help you make sense of your office supplies:. While not essential for organizing your home office, wrangling in your cords will help you achieve the clean, crisp look you will want to have in every room of your house. A simple search online will present a myriad of cord management products made for tying up and taming cords. You can also use a few of these clever cord hacks:. You probably use your kitchen more than any other room in the house, and, if you cook even semi-regularly, you likely have a lot of stuff in it.
We want to help you take back your kitchen from clutter! Our kitchen declutter tips will make this space more enjoyable and hopefully make cooking less stressful.
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Kitchen counters are clutter-magnets in most homes, so this is a great first step for anyone looking to declutter their kitchens. Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader. This week's tasks will not be too hard for most people, since if your taxes are easy to do, your organization system for receipts and tax documents can be simple too.
On the other hand, the more complicated your tax situations is, the more onerous your organizing requirements may become. This challenge is geared towards creating a personal tax organizer system that leans towards simplicity, since that is realistically all that many of us need.
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However, if you do a lot of itemization of deductions, or have a small business or partnership for example, always consult a tax professional to find out what types of items to file and keep for reference for your taxes. The first step in the Create a Personal Tax Organizer System and Receipt Organization Callenge is to conceptually understand the various categories of receipts, so you can deal with them accordingly. Here are the broad categories of receipts that you should consider, and categorize each separate receipt into when dealing with your paperwork on a weekly basis.
The key to success with this week's organizational challenge is to get in the habit of dealing with and filing your tax documents and receipts on a regular basis, so they don't pile up, and you forget what a certain receipt or piece of paper signifies, or lose it in a pile of stuff. In last week's challenge, about organizing bills , I asked you to set aside a set period of time on a weekly basis to pay bills, and deal with other financial matters.
One of those financial matters you should deal with during this weekly paperwork meeting with yourself is any receipts and tax documents that you have received or accumulated over the week. If you haven't set up this weekly schedule yet, check out this article about your weekly paperwork session which discusses in more detail what this entails. In the steps below I'll share with you the types of tasks you should do, during this paperwork session, related to receipt organization which will take you about minutes maximum, if you have just a normal amount of receipts to deal with.
During this time you'll look at each receipt or other tax document, figure out which of the four categories it belongs in, and then file it accordingly. The process I've described here in this article will help you organize your receipts and tax paperwork from now on, as it comes into your home. That's the best way to stay on top of everything. But what about if you have a lot of old receipts piled up from before? If that describes your situation you have an extra task this week. In addition to setting up better organizational systems for the future, you'll also need to declutter a lot of those accumulated old receipts, the vast majority of which will go straight into the recycling bin or shredding pile.
To help you with this task I've written an article about how to declutter and then organize old receipts , so check it out for further details and encouragement. The third step in this Challenge is to create a system to collect all receipts as you receive them, and then to also have a built in filing system for the minor purchases types of receipts, which are the most common types of receipts. Examples of minor receipts are receipts for groceries, gas used for personal non-business cars, small clothing purchases, entertainment expenses, etc.
These are the types of receipts that you need to keep only for a short time period, and then they can be discarded. I suggest everyone collect all their receipts in a receipt envelope or receipt organizer that you can carry around in your purse or wallet. Then, once a week, as part of the weekly paperwork session, you go through the receipts collected in your envelope and separate them into the categories mentioned above, filing those necessary to keep longer term, and then the majority of them filing in a simpler manner in the same place you file old bill stubs, since you'll discard the majority of them more quickly.
I've explained in this article how to create a receipt organizer , and how this organizational system works, along with your weekly paperwork session, to help you organize all of your receipts. This step is actually covered more in a separate week of this challenge, so I'll just reference it here now. In another week of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge I discussed creating a personal home inventory , giving steps for how to do it. Basically, the idea is that you want to have proof of your large purchases, such as large appliances and electronics, etc.
Pictures and inventories of what you own help the insurance company, as well as seeing receipts of how much the items cost, when new or new to you. Read the instructions from that challenge for more ideas on how to organize receipts such as these. Further, we'll touch again on many of these documents when we organize and store our home warranties in a later challenge. You may want to consider scanning your receipts and documents and storing them electronically, at least for categories of the receipts.
This can be especially helpful for cheap items, printed from a receipt roll on a cash register, which seems to have the ink fade after a couple of months. If you are going to store receipts electronically make sure you only save the ones worth saving though, so you don't waste your valuable time scanning recipts you'll never reference again.
That's why I don't recommend scanning receipts that fall into the first category of minor receipts, for example. Further, you need to have an adequate back up system for all electronic files if you decide to scan receipts to make sure you don't lose anything if your computer's hard drive crashes, for example. Many people have scanners these days, and these will work for digitizing a few receipts here and there.
However, recently companies have also created portable scanners which easily scan documents of many sizes and can be used many places. I have to admit these receipt scanners look pretty cool, but they may be a bit of overkill for the average home. However, if you've got lots of receipts for work or a home business it may be worth considering one. In step 5 of the Challenge, you're going to organize one of two major categories of tax documents.
This category of tax documents are those types of documents you won't reference in this coming year's taxes, but may reference in tax returns several years from now. It includes things like home care and improvement expenses, insurance documents, retirement investments and non-retirement investments, etc. In reality, with the way I've organized the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, you're actually going to making files for all these types of documents next week, when we organize the files in your home.
I'm just mentioning this step here mainly so if you don't do that challenge you'll know you need these types of files for organizing all your tax documents. In step 6 of the challenge is to organize your tax documents and receipts that you'll reference this year, when you do your taxes.