7 Ways to Start Off the New Year, According to Professional Organizers

published Jan 5, 2022
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Starting a new year can feel exciting — and a little overwhelming if you haven’t properly cleared the way for a fresh beginning. The transition into a new year is a great time to evaluate all the spaces in your life, from personal and professional, and decide what needs to stay and what needs to go. 

Making room for the upcoming 12 months doesn’t exactly happen automatically — you’ve got to put in the work to clear out the unnecessary. So where do you start? Take some suggestions from professional organizers who know how to declutter, streamline, and embrace fresh beginnings. Check out these seven ways the pros prep for a new year, and how you can too.

Take stock of your past and future goals.

Now is a good time to review and reflect on what goals you reached during the last 12 months, and it is an opportune time to set future goals. 

Mary Cornetta, founder and owner of the organization company Sort and Sweet, says, “Just like when we declutter a space — a closet or pantry — it’s helpful to take stock of what you have and what you want. Knowing this allows you to make space for the new stuff coming in. Looking back at what you accomplished in the past year and ahead to what you want to tackle in 2022 will allow you to create the space in your schedule and lifestyle to make sure it fits.”

Start with creating and sticking with one new routine.

Many people want to adopt new routines in the coming year with a focus on exercising more, spending intentional time with friends, or creating a gratitude practice. Starting all these routines at once may sabotage your efforts to establish a clear commitment to one change. 

“If your resolution is to have better routines, it may be easier to start with one, such as a morning or night routine. Getting in the habit of one and then starting another prevents overwhelm and burnout. When an entire home needs to be organized, we start and finish in one space before moving on to the next to ensure success,” Cornetta tells Apartment Therapy. 

Create a donation zone in your home.

Most people want to clear space in their home and aren’t quite sure where to start. Sometimes it’s easier to get rid of stuff incrementally. Dedicating a space in your home to remind you to donate might be the answer. 

“If you know you need to declutter and usually don’t because it slips your mind, try setting up a donation zone. It can be a small bag or basket in yours and/or your family members’ closets or in the garage or mudroom,” Cornetta says. Before you know it you will find things you want to donate and will form a habit of dropping them in the zone. “Once it’s full, throw it in the car and drop it to your nearest donation center, ” Cornetta says. 

Make sure you purge your physical and virtual space at the start of the new year. 

The key in clearing space is to remove what isn’t serving you in your physical and virtual spaces. Marty Basher, organizing expert at Modular Closets, says, “Many people save paper because they can’t stand the thought of throwing it away.” But he believes that it might be a better practice to take a photo or scan the document and then recycle the paper. 

Purging applies to your inbox too. If you have several messages in your inbox, “set aside a few hours one day to tackle unneeded messages,” says Basher. Also, take a look at the online subscriptions and marketing emails and unsubscribe to reduce email clutter. 

For spaces like a bedroom closet, it might be a good idea to get two “tubs” and mark one for donations and the other for tossing. “Pull out everything from your closet, as well as your drawers,” says Basher. The closet tends to become our “storage” for things we want to hide, but not toss. “If clothes are no longer our size or the styles are outdated, donate them. If clothes are damaged and can’t be fixed, toss them. If you have 30 handbags and 50 pairs of black shoes, choose three of each that are classic items. Donate the remaining items,” Basher says. 

Repair small things.

Take an inventory of your space and make a list of all the small things around that you’ve been intending to repair, but haven’t done yet. “For example, the list may include small projects such as a faucet that’s dripping, cracked plaster, and paint touch-ups. Hire a handyman to complete several small things during one visit,” says Basher. By taking proactive measures to repair these things at once, you’ll avoid multiple headaches in the upcoming year. 

Upgrade the safety features of your home.

The start of a new year is a good time to take inventory of the safety features of your home, like the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“In January, the house will have been closed from the winter months, with the fireplace and furnace working. Consequently, it’s essential that you have both detectors checked. You can purchase a combination unit, containing both types of sensors, at your local hardware store for roughly $50. Purchasing an interconnected system is an even better choice. The system will set off all of the house alarms when any of the units detects a dangerous condition,” Basher says. 

Create a calm space.

Having a space of your own is important for solitude, collecting your thoughts, and decompressing. “Designate a room or space in your home where you can reflect, be silent, and center yourself,” Basher says. Make it your own by designing the “room or space using whichever colors bring you peace.”