Unless you’re Marie Kondo or someone who, ahem, writes organizational articles for a living, you’re probably overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering your entire home.
It’s totally normal to want to sink into the pile of sweaters on your chair and resign yourself to living in chaos — but you don’t have to.
Rather than thinking of decluttering as one giant task to check off your to-do list, think of it as a series of simple habit changes.
Today, we’re sharing a fool-proof list of easy, no-nonsense New Year’s resolutions for your home that will keep your place clean all year. Marie Kondo would be proud.
Pro Tip: Use this KonMari cheat sheet to easily declutter your home like Marie Kondo.
1. Declutter your most used space at the start of the year.
You can’t develop smart decluttering habits without doing some actual decluttering. To kick off your clutter-free year, pick the most lived-in area of your home to tackle first.
It might be your kitchen, living room, or bedroom — whatever it is, get to work gathering every item in that space and asking yourself two important questions:
- Do I love this item?
- Do I use it regularly?
If the word “no” pops into your head, set the item aside to trash or donate.
For more advice on how to get started decluttering, check out these 15 tips from Certified Professional Organizers.
2. Use what you have before buying more.
Before you start filling your cabinets and drawers with multiples of the same item, make a point to finish everything you have first.
Use the last few pumps of lotion, the last drops of olive oil, the last inch of your pine-scented candle, the last five envelopes you own, the last bit of toothpaste — you get the idea.
With just this one habit change, you’ll waste less, consume less, and bring less clutter to your home.
Free Bonus: Check out these 8 minimalist living tips to learn how to live with less stuff.
3. Clear your surfaces.
If your head is spinning just thinking about organizing your closet, start with something smaller. Specifically, start with the flat surfaces in your home. Coffee tables, nightstands, dressers, desks, and kitchen countertops are all breeding grounds for clutter.
Pick one surface first — the one that makes you stressed just looking at it — and clear everything off. Before you start adding items back to it, pick up each one and determine whether or not you want to keep it.
Free Bonus: Use this handy decluttering flowchart to decide what to keep or get rid off.
4. Put your clothes away every night.
Before your crawl into bed, put your clothes away instead of tossing them on the nearest chair to “deal with in the morning” (let’s be real: you won’t deal with it in the morning).
And don’t just put your pants and shirt on a random shelf — take the extra 20 seconds to fold them (here’s how to easily fold a shirt like Marie Kondo or hang them back up neatly (use this awesome compact clothes hanger for your tiny closet).
The more frequently you do this, the quicker it will become second-nature.
Don’t have a closet to put your clothes away?
No problem — here’s how to live without a closet.
5. Throw away your trash.
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised to learn how much of your clutter is actually stuff meant for the trash bin. Don’t let things like shopping bags, gift boxes, flyers, and tags pile up — toss them out or recycle them immediately.
6. Give every new item a home.
It’s easy to let new purchases wallow in your entryway, on your bathroom counter, or in front of your closet (especially if you have minor buyer’s remorse and can’t decide if you want to keep something), but this creates tons of totally unnecessary clutter.
As soon as you bring a new item into your space, give it a proper (and permanent) home. And no, the storage closet or junk drawer doesn’t count.
7. Don’t buy storage bins.
Clarification: Don’t buy storage bins until you figure out exactly what you need to store.
Stockpiling all the latest space-saving gadgets and storage bins just creates more clutter in your home and gives you an excuse to keep things you might not even need.
Free Bonus: Why letting go of your stuff is hard, plus what to do about it.
8. Spend five minutes tidying every night.
Before you get ready for bed, set a timer and see how much you can accomplish in five minutes.
If you hustle, you can probably hang up your clothes, pick up trash, wipe down your bathroom mirror, and put things away — all in the same amount of time it would take you to check your email or scroll through your Facebook news feed.
9. If an area of your home drives you nuts, put it on your decluttering to-do list.
If the level of chaos in your kitchen cabinets or desk drawers makes your skin crawl, but you don’t have two hours to take care of it right away, add it to your decluttering to-do list.
Keep the list somewhere visible (like your fridge or computer desktop) and set a date with yourself to declutter your problem zone within a week.
10. Tidy a room before you leave it.
Fold your throw blanket and fluff the pillows on your sofa before you leave the living room. Stow away your beauty products after you finish getting ready in the bathroom. Toss your papers and take your coffee mug to the sink when you stop working at your desk.
Basically, always leave a room cleaner than when you walked into it.
11. Use the “one in, one out” rule.
Take a cue from 90-square-foot-apartment dweller Mary Helen Rowell and use the one in, one out rule. For every new item you add to your space, get rid of something similar.
Got a new pair of running shoes? Donate your old ones.
Bought a new novel? Give an old paperback to the library (here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of).
12. Clean during commercial breaks.
Or during Hulu ads. Or while you’re waiting for hot water to boil or your Uber to arrive.
The point is: There are so many small tasks you can take care of when you have a couple minutes to spare.
Free Bonus: Take a look at these 10 smart cleaning tips from your favorite movies (including Mrs. Doubtfire)
13. Keep a donation box in your closet.
Whenever you come across something you no longer want or use, toss it in the donation box.
When the box is full (make it a small box so it fills up fast), give it to your local Goodwill. Or let MakeSpace pick up and drop off your donation to a local Goodwill.
14. Use MakeSpace to effortlessly store everything else.
When you’ve already decluttered but still need to store stuff (hey — it happens), use MakeSpace.
Simply schedule a pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home and carefully transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.
And when you want your collection of CDs and DVDs back, just browse the convenient online photo catalog of your stuff, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it straight to you.
This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.