Coffee break in officeThe holiday décor has been put away and the last of the traveling guests have gone back home. Now you can get on with your life. A whole fresh year awaits you.

With the new year comes the notion that everything is going to be better this year. No more stacks of unopened mail. No more digging through drawers to find two matching socks. And the icing on the cake ­– a garage you can actually park in.

With all the grandiose plans comes the actual work to accomplish it. The hardest part – where to start? If you’re like most, it’s more like a mountain than a molehill. But, when you break it down, you could soon be living the clutter-free life you’ve always imagined.

Here are 5 tips on how to get organized in 2014.

Start small – Don’t plan to organize your whole bedroom or garage in one day. In the bedroom, break it down into individual dressers or even one drawer at a time. In the garage, start with one shelf or give yourself only 2 hours to see what you can get organized. Start with the easiest ones first. A sense of accomplishment will spur you on to tackle more. Plus, you’ll be so relived because you won’t have all of that mess bothering you.

Paper trail – What to do with all of those saved magazines, torn out recipes and greeting cards? You can’t keep them all so decide what means the most to you. Are you really ever again going to read a design magazine from last year ­– let alone from 5 years ago? Will you make that complex French recipe for your next dinner party? Is each birthday card you received one that will make you happy to open again? Decide what is most memorable and recycle the rest. Save the ones that you hold near and dear. You’ll always want to treasure those special memories.

Let go – Yes, it’s very hard to part with treasured things. But that’s all they are – things. Even if they did belong to a departed family member or remind you of your younger days, they might be more of an anchor than a sail. Staying hidden in a box and being shuffled shelf-to-shelf isn’t really giving you much satisfaction anyway. If it’s hard to give away, just imagine the joy it might bring to someone else. Now you can open your heart to new memories by letting go of the past.

Reward yourself – After you’ve purged your closet or made room in the garage to park your car – reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be something big – just something that makes you happy. Even something like a short walk, a cup of coffee with a friend or even a movie. You’ll feel like you’ve really treated yourself to a special reward for what you’ve done.

Keep it up – Nothing lasts forever. Even that perfectly organized drawer or cupboard will get messy again. Don’t just think that being organized happens at the beginning of the year and then it magically stays that way. Create a rotating schedule. Maybe the closets get a quick evaluation every quarter. Maybe the kitchen cupboards get a minor reorganization just before major holidays. Think about organizing junk mail and magazine clippings every payday. Whatever works for you – make a plan, then stick with it. Getting rid of all of that clutter will give you new insight to bringing fresh things into your life in the new year.

There are many bonuses to getting organized and keeping it that way. It saves time when you need to find something and cash when you would have to repurchase something you can’t find.

But more importantly, you gain a sense of control over your space. And that’s worth more than money can buy.


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