4 Organizing Habits to Start in 2023 (and 4 to Let Go of), According to a Pro Organizer

published Dec 14, 2022
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The new year is an ideal time for a fresh start. As a professional organizer myself, there are certain habits that I like to instill in my clients and remind myself to follow so that our homes feel warm, inviting, and as comfortable as possible. On the flip side, there are also habits that people can easily get stuck in or sucked into that do more harm than good. 

I’ve compiled four that I think you should start (if you haven’t already!) and four that you should let go of in 2023.

Credit: Minette Hand

Start giving everything in your home, well, a home

I don’t believe in the word “miscellaneous.” OK, I believe in it because it’s a real word but it doesn’t mean I like it. I think that everything should be categorized in some way or another. This just makes it so much easier to give your belongings a proper home. If you’re not in the habit yet, group your stuff and then assign them a spot. Furniture care products, first aid supplies, backstock bulk buys, and so on can have their own space wherever it makes sense in your place. This way, when someone needs something, it’s time to replace an item, or you need to clean up, you don’t have to think so hard about where it’s going to go.

Start buying containers with intention

The “buy now” button on Amazon makes it so easy to purchase popular home organization supplies on a whim. I encourage you to take a moment before hitting it to check a few things off your list:

  • Do the measurements fit your space and the items you want to organize? 
  • Are the reviews good or are they iffy? 
  • Is there a simple return policy in case they don’t work the way you thought? 

I’m all for cute containers and bins to sort my stuff but I don’t like to buy things impulsively or without knowing if they’ll work for me. Putting a plan together, even a rough one, before buying supplies helps with wasting your hard-earned money or your time to do returns and trying something else. It also prevents the products from turning into clutter themselves.

Start tidying up spaces when you’re done with them

The bed every morning, the desk at the end of the workday, the kitchen after cooking, and the living room before turning in. I know, it’s not the advice you want to hear, but it’s the key to staying organized. By forming the habit of tidying up your things when you’re done with them, you benefit from it in a couple of ways. First, it becomes part of your routine and, before you even realize it, something you don’t have to think about doing. Next, by doing a little each day, it avoids the eventual pile-up of clutter that can feel too overwhelming to tackle. It’s easier to pick up and put away a handful of things today than a few dozen a month from now.

Start scheduling “declutter dates”

As someone with ADHD, this is an immensely helpful practice. I have trouble with time and so I could go longer than I should between decluttering sessions. Having a reminder on my calendar to go through my closets, bathroom, and kitchen increases the chances that I’ll actually get to it consistently. Starting in the new year, open your calendar and add declutter dates to it whenever they make sense to you. Here are some areas to consider:

  • Bedroom and coat closets (two times per year, ideally in early spring and early fall)
  • Makeup/skincare/medicines (four times per year; I like to use the first of each season as a good reminder)
  • Linens (two times per year; your local animal shelter will happily take old linens as donations)
  • Kitchen tools (two times per year, ideally at the end of summer and after the holidays)
  • Pantry/fridge/freezer (two to four times per month)
  • Storage spaces (once per year; if they’re not temperature controlled, pick a time of year when it’s not too hot or too cold)

Stop holding onto items because of guilt

In 2023, I hope that you can make the pact to no longer let the feelings of guilt keep you from having a clutter-free home. Yes, it’s sweet that your grandmother passed down her Precious Moments collection to you but if it’s not your taste or it’s causing stress because you’re cramped for space, it’s time to get rid of it. Before bringing it to a donation center, ask around the rest of the family to see if anyone else would like it to further minimize the guilty conscience. 

Stop waiting for clutter to pile up until you’re forced to face it

I tell my clients all the time that the term “I’ll do it later” goes hand in hand with disorganization. While it’s true that life happens — you get sick, work deadlines take priority, and so forth — try not to let clutter accumulate so much during the downtimes that it becomes staggering. This is where the small habits I discussed earlier come into play. By tidying up as you go, you’ll avoid an overabundance of things to deal with later.

Stop nagging others to declutter and tidy

Yes, it can be very frustrating to live with others who don’t care to be as organized as you, don’t seem to see the clutter right in front of their eyes, and bring more stuff in than they let go of. But unfortunately, from my own experience, I know that begging them to see the error of their ways doesn’t work. It could have the opposite effect. Instead, lead by example. Focus on taking care of your things and your personal space and demonstrate how good it feels. The good habits might eventually rub off on them.

Stop trying to mimic your favorite social media influencers

Their homes might seem Pinterest perfect but their exact organization systems probably won’t work for your stuff or your space. Never mind the fact that many products are gifted to them and the total cost of what you see in that photo could blow most budgets away. I love taking inspiration from my favorite influencers and other professional organizers but I try my best not to compare my home to theirs. Instead, I’ll create systems that work for me within the budget I have, and highly encourage you to do the same in the new year.