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organized utensils in kitchen drawer

Declutter Your Life for a Fresh New Year

Article and audio introduction by Samantha Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences
Start the New Year off Right!
Organized storage closet

Too much clutter can adversely affect mood and morale as well as attract pests. Taking the time to clear away clutter and organize what’s left can improve overall quality of life. (Photo source: Samantha Kennedy)

One of the most inspiring ways to start a new year is by clearing away clutter and starting off fresh with a more organized environment.  Decluttering can be a very therapeutic way to make a fresh start.

This, of course, is easier said than done.  Accumulating things is the easy part.  Deciding what to discard can be difficult, as so much of our “stuff” holds sentimental value. However, decluttering does not have to be painful. Taking the time now to establish a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly routine can help keep clutter from piling up throughout the year.

A Few Decluttering Strategies

Clutter starts with the little things. Mail, books, toys, and other everyday items can quickly pile up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Being conscientious about the small stuff each day can decrease overall clutter.

When checking the mail, sort it right away instead of throwing it into that ever-growing pile on the dining table. This not only helps decrease overall clutter, but can help eliminate missing important items such as bills and cards.

Avoid using every flat surface as a place to catch all those extra things that enter the home each day. Keeping tables and countertops clear of clutter can make the entire house feel cleaner. Clearing away excess clutter can also alleviate stress and anxiety for many people.

Keep items in the rooms in which they belong. At the end of each day, take a couple of minutes to put items back that may have strayed throughout the day, such as laptops, books, toys, and clothes. Leaving them where they are only makes the clutter-clearing job that much harder later.

A super simple way to make the bedroom look and feel cleaner is to make the bed each morning. Tidy sheets and blankets and neat, organized pillows will instantly make any room feel more put together. Making the bed is also a good habit to teach kids as part of their morning routine.

Avoid Catch-Alls

Keeping closets clutter-free can often be a herculean task, especially since they are such tempting places to store all kinds of things behind closed doors.  Out of sight, out of mind, right? Sure. Except that out of sight often leads to out of control as things quickly pile up.

If an item of clothing or a pair of shoes or a handbag has not been used in a year, get rid of it.  If it is in good shape, consider donating it to charity to help those in need. Items in excellent condition may also be resold for a little extra money. When new things are purchased, get rid of the same number of old things to keep the closet from being overstuffed.

Desk drawers are notorious catch-alls. Like closets, drawers are great places to hide stuff away out of sight. However, when the drawer can no longer be opened or it takes half a day to find something, it is time to clear the clutter. Go through old files and discard what is no longer needed. Organize like things together such as pens and pencils, paper clips, and rubber bands.

Here is the big one: the garage. Ideally, it should be able to hold the car. If that is not realistic, it should be organized enough to easily find things. If an item cannot be removed from a shelf without risk of bodily injury from a clutter avalanche, it is time for a serious decluttering.

Clutter can also be a tripping hazard.  The UF/IFAS Extension factsheet, “Fall Prevention,” provides more information about reducing the risk of falling.

For more tips on how to clear away clutter and become better organized in the new year, please call Samantha Kennedy at the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension office at (850) 926-3931.

Extension classes are open to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations.

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