It’s a new year. A fresh start. Time to clean house.  As those thoughts run through our heads, the daunting task of purging and organizing seems like a mountain we’re tired of climbing. And once we’ve decluttered, how long will it take for it all to reappear? Again.

Stuff is imminent. It just is. Our job is to control what stays and what doesn’t, and that takes time and effort. Benjamin Franklin said, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.“ The following four tidying tips are well worth every minute. Dive in, ask yourself the hard questions, and be relentless.

Toss it.

First, walk through your home with a garbage bag, and gather all that can be thrown away – papers, tags, junk mail, wrappers, magazines, boxes, all that has accumulated in corners and on shelves. This is trash. Plain and simple. Toss it. 

Donate it.

Next, walk through your home with another garbage bag and gather all that can be given away. Everything that does not have a meaningful purpose is clutter. This bag will be donated. If you find yourself at an impasse, Japanese organizing consultant and world-renowned author Marie Kondo of the Konmari method suggests that you “keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

Give it a home.

Make sure everything in your home has a home. Dump your junk drawers and messy areas and piles of stuff into a laundry basket and slowly begin to sort. This part might be the most laborious, but keep at it. Once each item has a designated spot in your home, it will be much easier to manage your newly clutter-freed casa.

Stay on top of it.

Upon completion of the deep decluttering of your home, you’re going to want to maintain that peace and equilibrium. This final step needs to be a family affair. Everyone must be on board with keeping these daily rituals. They will save you time, stress, and a whole lotta mess.

  • Make your bed every day.
  • Hang up your coat as you walk in the door – designate a closet or purchase a coat rack.
  • Drop your keys, phone, and wallet in the same chosen spot.
  • Open mail daily and immediately toss or file.
  • Choose a time to do a quick general sweep of your home, collecting papers, clothing, dishes, etc. at the same time each day – after dinner, before bed, after breakfast, etc.
  • Put away your clothes before you crawl into bed.
  • Set up a donation bag in a convenient spot that you can continually add to, keeping mass accumulation at bay.

Plan to implement this decluttering regimen every six months. If you stay on top of it during the in between times, those first few steps will be a snap!