If getting organized is one of your new year’s resolutions, read on. This article is for you.
If you’re new to organizing (or if you just need a refresher), the first step to organizing should always be setting an intention. Even if it seems silly. Even if you don’t want to. According to Inc. author Marla Tabaka, “Intentions give you purpose, as well as the inspiration and motivation to achieve your purpose.”
An intention is the “why” behind our goal. Here are a couple examples. Instead of saying, “my resolution is to lose 10 pounds this year” or “my resolution is to finally get organized” add the why. “My resolution is to lose 10 pounds this year so that I have enough energy for my kids at the end of the day.” And “my resolution is to get organized so that I don’t have to feel ashamed of my space when I have friends over”. Or “I intend to get organized this year so I stop wasting so much time looking for my things.”
Connecting to our “why” helps us to stay committed when the going gets tough. And like losing weight, organizing can be tough. And it’s not always enjoyable. Unless you’re one of us. (In which case, you’re probably not reading this article.) Organizing can be especially tough when confronted with the second step of any organizing process: decluttering.
Before you get organized, you must declutter your space. In fact, I’d go as far to say decluttering is about 50% of any organization job.
Struggling to declutter your space?
Below are 15 things you definitely don’t need in 2023 that you have my full permission to get rid of today.
1. Take-out containers and a surplus of Tupperware
The take-out containers need to go. You don’t need them. The ugly truth: plastic can leach into our body and harm our health. Invest in a nice set of glass food containers and thank yourself. As far as Tupperware goes, trust me: there is not a time this year where you will need to store as much food as you have containers for them. Keep your nicest glass set and donate or recycle the rest.
2. Expired condiments
Do yourself a favor. Take five minutes today to just check the expiration dates on all the bottles in the door of your fridge. If anything’s expired, pour it out, and recycle the bottle.
3. Clothes with holes in them (I’m looking at you, socks and underwear)
You’re better than holy underwear.
4. Gifts from anyone you’re never going to use
Marie Kondo reminded us that “The true purpose of a present is to be received.” You do not need to hold on to gifts you don’t love because so-and-so gave it to you, out of guilt, or just to collect dust. If there’s someone out there that would appreciate and use it, it’s better off in their possession. Ended up with something from a white elephant party you don’t want? You don’t need to feel bad about tossing that gag gift from your friend. They didn’t even buy it for you.
5. Old holiday cards
So sweet. So festive. Hang them on your fridge for a month or two if you’d like. But there is absolutely no need to hand on to them for any longer.
6. Any financial/tax documents that are 7+ years old
Some records you may only need for as little as 3 years – see this article on IRS.gov.
News flash: they’re all online. They’ll be better off as kindling for your next beach bonfire.
8. Cables and cords that you (or anyone else in your household) are unsure about
Don’t even start with, “This probably goes to something, I’m just not sure what right now.” If you or the people you live with do not know what the cord goes to… let me tell you something: you will never go looking for it. You do not need it.
9. Vases that you’re not going to use
File this under: just because it’s useful, doesn’t mean you should keep it. If it’s not being used, let it go. Looking for an alternate use for vases other than housing flowers in water? Use them to store: make-up brushes on the counter; your flat-iron and curling wand upright, under the bathroom sink; or dish scrubbers in the kitchen.
10. Unfinished projects you’re sure you’re going to have the time for one day
I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you haven’t made the time to complete that project in the last two years, while we’ve been quarantined at home for half of it, you sure won’t get to it this year. Every time you look at the supplies for that dream project, your mind adds it to your never ending to-do list. Get real and free yourself from the expectation of finishing that project.
11. Duplicate sets of anything
It’s not uncommon for us professional organizers to find three sets of knives or two entire sets of cookware in one house. Even when I moved in with my finance a year ago, I discovered not one, not two or three, but four can openers. In our household, there is really no use for more than one at any given time. And the same is probably true for you. Pick your favorite and donate the rest. If you’re in San Diego and you can donate your unwanted kitchenware to Kitchens for Good.
12. Old make-up
This includes party/costume/Halloween make-up. Old makeup harbors bacteria which can put you at greater risk for infection or irritation. And no one wants that.
13. Clothes (or really anything) that doesn’t make you feel your best
This should be self explanatory, but sometimes my clients get hung up on this. As an example, we often keep workout clothes that don’t sit quite right or make us feel our best. Working out is hard enough. Make it easier on yourself by investing in outfits that make you feel good. Also, invest in this current period of your life. Keep what makes sense for your lifestyle right now.
14. Unused anything
Before getting organized, we must declutter things that are not being used. Like vases, cables, duplicates, specialty make-up and so forth. This year, when you notice something that’s not being used, ask yourself: Why am I holding on to this? If the answer is, “because I might need it one day”, then 17 is really for you.
15. A scarcity mentality
I’ve saved the best and possibly the hardest for last. But let me tell ya something. A scarcity mindset isn’t going to help you on your organizational journey. A scarcity mentality is limiting. Ready for a new year, new you? Embrace an abundant mindset. You already have everything you need. Choosing to finally get rid of that thing you’ve hung on to for years “just in case” is not going to be the end of you. With an abundant mindset, you know you either have what you need or will be able to acquire what you need easily in the future.
Need help cultivating an abundant mindset? Read Shira Gill’s blog post.
Are you struggling with guilt?
As Shifrah Combiths writes in an article about the best decluttering tips from a friend that’s always moving, “You don’t need to feel guilty when [you] donate things that no longer serve [your] family. Paying to use something while we were using it makes our expenditure worthwhile, whether or not we hang on to it through new seasons of life. In fact, not letting go of these types of items that take up space and do little else, transforms our money-spending for something once useful into a sunken cost for something that only weighs us down.”
Getting organized is easier with the help of a professional. View our services page to see how we can help you.
Have something I should add to the list? Leave a comment below.