5 Biggest Things to Remember When Decluttering in the New Year

Greg Norris January 11, 2024

A new year always inspires us to have a fresh start. Maybe you're a homeowner who just wants to take advantage of that burst of energy and motivation to tackle clutter around your home. If your goal is to reset your space so you’re only surrounded by things that make you happy, decluttering is a powerful and transformative resolution that’s worth keeping.

Or maybe you’re planning to list your home for sale this year. You can have a good headstart in this new journey by purging through your belongings so you’ll know what to keep and what to let go when you move.

Whether you're the former or the latter, remember that decluttering not only resets your physical space but can also profoundly impact your mental and emotional well-being. Here are five time-tested tips to keep in mind and to help guide you on your organizing journey.

Creating more space in your home will be close to impossible if you don't resist the urge to buy new things. So before and while decluttering, it’s a good idea to hold off on shopping for new items until you’re done with your purge and everything you own has a dedicated space. Avoid impulse purchases, and stop falling for social media marketing. No, you probably don’t need every product that your favorite influencers get paid to promote, so breathe and think twice before adding a potential clutter. 

Imagine this: you were so proud of yourself for clearing your clutter, only to find them still sitting in those boxes a week later because you haven't thought about where they’ll go. So plan this before you start—where would all your clutter go? Deciding an exit strategy for your unwanted stuff is as important as the purging itself.

For instance, you might need to check with your local government to see where you can recycle or dispose of old and non-functional devices. Or, you love books but find yourself with more selections than you can ever read in your lifetime. See if your local library accepts donations or if there’s a little book club in your neighborhood where you can give your paperbacks. If you’re looking to sell pre-loved items such as clothing, make sure to schedule a time to take photos and list the items online so that they don’t just sit there for months. Check for charities or even animal shelters in your town that accept old linens or towels. The satisfaction you get from decluttering your home may become twofold when you think that your things may still be of use to others, especially those in need.

There is no one-size-fits-all way to start decluttering, so assess yourself and do what's best for you. Have tons of New Year energy? Devote an entire weekend to declutter your closets or a specific room. Feeling completely overwhelmed as another year starts? Start small and tackle any area that’s relatively easy for you, say, your spice cabinet, junk drawer, or even your freezer. There’s no need to start with a bang if it only elevates your stress levels. When you’ve finished, you’ll feel the confidence (and the adrenaline) you need to finally organize bigger spaces in your home.

Aside from the fact that decluttering all in one go is just not realistic, it can be frustrating as well. Professional organizers see decluttering as a mindfulness practice, which means you don't want to bite off more than you can chew. Instead of saying you’ve got to “clear it all out” in one sitting, rephrase and say you’ll devote at least a few hours to sort it out, and you’ll feel the difference. Besides, you won’t even be able to see all of your clutter on the first pass. After letting go of the obvious unwanted stuff on your first round, there will be a round two for things you haven’t seen before or you haven’t decided yet. 

Learn to free yourself of guilt brought on by the things you're keeping. Whether it’s a strange gift that you feel guilty giving away because the person who gave it is special, or that arts and crafts project made by a great aunt. If you’re keeping things because you feel bad disposing of them rather than they mean something, maybe it’s time to get over it. Let those things go, guilt-free. It doesn’t mean you didn’t appreciate the gesture or that the gift hasn’t been taken to heart.

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