Are you already starting to question how to keep that “be more organized” resolution?
Well, January is Get Organized Month and to celebrate, we teamed up with six professional organizers to create a 30-day checklist to help you kick off 2019 in a clean house—and keep it that way.
We’ve devoted each week to a certain section of your home. Every day, you’ll have one task to complete so that by the end, you’ll have tackled all the major sources of clutter in that room.
Don’t worry about following our calendar exactly – make this home organization challenge work for you. Tackle tasks out of order if our timing doesn’t mesh with your schedule and if you fall behind, never fear—there are two “free days” so you can make up for lost time.
Ready to get to work? Bookmark this page, print the calendar and let’s go!
Once this task is complete, you’ll be able to get to the apps you actually need without scrolling through a bunch of clutter.
✔ Delete anything you haven’t used in the past few months.
✔ Compare apps that do similar things – which one do you like best? Get rid of the others.
✔ Think about how you want to spend your energy this year. Consider removing the time-sucking apps you scroll through without thinking.
Take the time to sort your photos into albums so you’ll be better able to share and enjoy them.
✔ Create albums for broad categories like “Kids,” “Vacation,” “Friends” etc. so you have a system in place to organize new photos as you take them.
✔ Delete duplicates, blurry shots and anything you don’t like as you move existing photos into albums.
Nobody likes checking their voicemail. But think about how good it’ll feel to breeze into the new year with an empty mailbox. There’s no trick for this one – you just have to buckle down and do it.
This is another task nobody looks forward to – but you’ll thank yourself come tax season. Or the next time you need that owner’s manual you’re sure you left around here someplace.
Professional Organizer Amy Vance, of Eco Modern Concierge, has a few simple suggestions for dealing with paper clutter:
✔ Deal with mail as soon as it comes in. Have a recycle bin and shredder nearby for junk and schedule a time to go through the keepers every evening.
✔ Clean paper off surfaces like your desk, counters and kitchen table every night.
✔ Go paperless wherever possible and remove yourself from mailing lists so you’ll have less junk mail to sort through each day.
Week One of your organization challenge is almost complete! Today you’ll be tackling your desktop and drawers to create a work space that truly works for you.
Vance also has some handy tips for getting your desk in order:
✔ Use a desktop file system with folders or bins for categories like: "To Be Paid," "Paid," "File," "Outgoing Mail," "To Read".
✔ Keep items you will need to access often, like staplers, stamps, checkbooks or envelopes, near the top drawers of your desk.
✔ Utilize pen holders for pens, scissors, highlighters, etc. Group items by category and be realistic about how many of each you need.
"Make a list of file categories that work for you based on your paperwork. But try to keep it to six files or less if possible, so it doesn’t get overwhelming."
Amy Vance | Eco Modern Concierge
Grab some trash bags and head to the master bedroom. Time to make room for the new clothes you got over the holidays.
Pro-Tip: Before you get started, take everything out of the closet. This will help you see the space you have to work with as you put your “keep” items back in.
✔ Deciding whether to keep something? Ask yourself three questions: Does is still fit? Would you still wear it? Is it in good condition? Answer no to any of those – time to go.
✔ While reorganizing your “keep” items, group clothing by categories – sweaters, dress shirts etc.–so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.
✔ Use a second clothes rod, shoe rack, drawers, shelves or baskets to maximize storage space in your closet.
Sure, it looks like total chaos – but organizing your junk drawer is easier than you think once you get down to business.
Julie Bestry, Certified Professional Organizer® at Best Results Organizing, suggests these tips to get your junk drawer under control:
✔ Start by emptying the entire drawer onto the countertop or your kitchen table.
✔ Move anything edible, like sauce packets, to an appropriate place in your pantry.
✔ Toss anything broken or unnecessary then group the remaining items into categories like “tools”, “batteries”, “keys”, “office supplies” etc.
“It's all about divide, contain, and conquer! Get some inexpensive dollar store plastic baskets in multiple lengths and widths. You can arrange them as if you were playing a game of Tetris. Ice cube trays or mini muffin tins are great for containing very small items.”
Julie Bestry | Best Results Organizing
Getting a handle on toy box clutter creates an organized play room and gives you a perfect starting point to teach older children how to pick up after themselves.
✔ Do your initial sort without your kids in the room unless you’re confident they’re mature enough to handle letting go of things they’ve outgrown.
✔ Consider storing frequently used toys on open shelves or baskets where kids can easily reach them—and put them back.
✔ Divide items between boxes so that your kids can see everything in each.
If you’re taking this challenge you know how hard it is to relax when you’re surrounded by clutter. After you check this off your list, you’ll be poised for a restful—and organized—night’s sleep.
Tonia Tomlin, professional organizer at Sorted Out, recommends going vertical with your nightstand:
✔ Use stackable drawer organizers for the items stored inside your bedside table.
✔ Install clear dividers so you can easily see everything you have.
✔ Label your drawer dividers so you know exactly where to put things back after use.
“I recommend a very small amount of items be stored in your nightstand. Chapstick, book, kindle or iPad, phone charger, ear buds, small Kleenex package - only what you truly need at your fingertips in the evening.”
Tonia Tomlin | Sorted Out
Whether it’s part of a mudroom or tucked beside your front door, coat closets easily become catch-alls. Today’s organization challenge aims to change that.
✔ Remove anything you don’t need when you’re entering or leaving your house. Re-home those items where you actually use them.
✔ Rethink how many coats each member of your household needs. Most of the time, one everyday coat and one for dressy occasions is plenty.
✔ Store out-of-season items in your basement or attic, so you can quickly find the stuff you currently use.
Hall closets are often where we store stuff that doesn’t belong to any specific room. But that means they frequently become giant junk drawers. Ready to un-junk them?
✔ Toss or donate any items you haven’t pulled out of the closet in the past year.
✔ Group your “keep” items by category.
✔ Use vertical space. Hang hooks on the wall, a shoe-type organizer on the door, set plastic drawers on built-in shelves, etc.
Sounds like a big job, but once it’s done you’ll save tons of time getting your kids ready for school every morning.
✔ Get rid of anything your kids have outgrown or no longer wear. Group the rest by season and category.
✔ If your kids share a room, use different colored bins and hangers for each so you can quickly tell which stuff is whose.
✔ Put open bins or baskets on the closet floor for your kids to kick their shoes into. It may not look as spiffy as cubbies or shelves—but those don’t stay tidy for long. This is a more realistic way to avoid tripping over stray sneakers.
Got three different sets of silverware kicking around? Do you hoard coffee mugs? After getting a handle on kitchen clutter, the heart of your home will be much more functional.
✔ How often do you wash dishes? Keep enough for each family member to eat between washings, plus a few extras. The rest can be pared down, along with anything broken or chipped.
✔ You cook nearly every day – if you haven’t used something in the past month, it can probably go.
✔ Keep utensils and gadgets you need a few times a year—at holidays, for example—in bins at the back of your cupboards or on high shelves.
Since we spend so much time here, the kitchen has a way of collecting items that belong elsewhere. Now’s the time to change all that.
✔ Kids do their homework at the kitchen table? Keep their book bags nearby so they can pack up afterwards.
✔ Place a basket or bin in a corner where you can gather up stray toys at the end of the day.
✔ Put a reminder on your phone to move mail and other important documents to your office at a set time each day.
Most of us use our counters as one giant shelf, but that gives you much less space to actually prepare meals. Time to decide what belongs there—and what doesn’t.
✔ Remove decorative items. Display these on a shelf, on top of cabinets or another out of the way spot.
✔ Remove appliances you don’t use during an average week. One exception is a stand mixer—they’re usually too big and heavy to store anywhere else.
✔ Use vertical space. Holders for things like paper towels, spices and cooking oils can all be mounted on walls. There are even magnetic versions for the side of your fridge.
It’s where most of us keep our cleaning supplies, but it’s often a total mess. After you complete this task, irony will have no more place in your kitchen.
✔ Use pull-out storage or a Lazy Susan to make it easy to find what you need fast.
✔ Hang hooks or even tension rods to create extra storage for dish rags, gloves and other items.
✔ Decide how many supplies you actually need. If you use a Swiffer now, you can lose that old bottle of floor cleaner.
Pro-Tip: Remember to toss any expired cleaning products. These can be dangerous to use past their expiration date. Ditto for sponges older than a few weeks—they can harbor harmful bacteria.
Tired out of wasting money on food you forgot you had? Or letting tasty veggies go bad buried at the bottom of a drawer? Start by emptying the fridge for a deep clean then use today’s organization challenge to make this space more functional.
Perri Kersh, owner of Neat Freak Professional Organizing LLC, suggests these tricks for organizing your refrigerator:
✔ Use small plastic containers and group like with like. You can even designate areas for specific product types—bottom shelf for beverages, drawer for produce, top shelf for leftovers etc.
✔ Got multiple open containers of the same condiment? Keep the freshest and throw out the rest.
✔ Label bins so you can unpack groceries directly into the correct container.
“Plastic works best for organizing food because it's easy to toss in the dishwasher or wipe clean if anything spills.”
Perri Kersh | Neat Freak Professional Organizing LLC
For many of us, our freezer could be nicknamed “the junk drawer of the fridge.” A more organized freezer makes for a new year filled with less waste and simpler meal prep. First, empty it out and give it a thorough cleaning. Then move on to the organizing.
Kersh also has advice for getting your freezer in order:
✔ Just because something won’t go bad in the freezer doesn’t mean you should keep it. If you know you’ll never thaw and cook it – toss it.
✔ Set up a regular schedule to go through your freezer and take inventory to avoid buying duplicates.
✔ Every so often, skip a trip to the grocery store and eat only what you have in your house. There are a number of websites that give recipe suggestions for ingredients you type in.
“Tossing food you won't eat and can’t donate is really no different than tossing items you don't need, use or love. It's taking up valuable real estate that could be used by items you're much more likely to eat.”
Perri Kersh | Neat Freak Professional Organizing LLC
Pantries become chaotic fast, but today’s task will whip yours into shape without too much fuss.
After you’ve tossed anything expired or no longer needed, Kersh suggests trying these tips for organizing the rest:
✔ Place like items in containers—especially if your pantry has deep shelves.
✔ Use organizers that create height to store items that won’t fit in containers.
✔ Label containers—or use clear plastic—so it’s easy to find what you need and you can quickly unpack after a trip to the store.
“Containers act like drawers, allowing you to pull out the whole thing to find what you need, rather than reaching into deep shelves to see what is in the back.”
Perri Kersh | Neat Freak Professional Organizing LLC
Imagine how much less stressful your morning routine will be when you no longer have to dig for the stuff you actually use.
✔ Got multiples of something? Keep the brand you like best and toss or donate the others.
✔ Don’t feel obligated to hold onto gifts. If you’ll never use those soaps or that bubble bath donate or re-gift them to someone who will.
✔ Get rid of “aspirational” products. Doing a daily face mask is a nice idea but if you don’t have that kind of time, you’re better off letting it go.
Let’s be honest, beauty products are rarely beautifully organized. That changes today.
✔ Chuck all those free samples – you don’t use them and they’re just taking up space.
✔ Toss anything more than a year old. Makeup expires and can harbor bacteria after that point.
✔ Don’t hold onto products you don’t like out of guilt. If that eyeshadow palette doesn’t suit you, don’t let it take up space at the bottom of your makeup bag.
“Don't punish yourself for buying something you ended up not liking; chalk it up to a failed experiment. This has everything to do with quantity. Once you know what you are keeping you can find the best storage solution.”
Ben Soreff | House to Home Organizing
An orderly vanity means you can get ready quicker. Which means more time to savor that cup of coffee or catch up on your crossword puzzles before the workday starts.
Professional Organizer Ben Soreff, of House to Home Organizing, has a few suggestions for tackling your vanity:
✔ Only keep things you use frequently in or on the vanity. If you have products for special occasions, move them to the linen closet.
✔ Group items into categories, like dental, shaving etc. Use drawer dividers to keep them contained.
✔ Don’t overbuy. If you can’t fit five toothpaste tubes within your dividers, then pass up that bulk pack no matter how good the deal is.
“Most people fill the room they are given. Just as a new highway lane doesn't help traffic, the vanity stores what people shove into it since it has a door that closes. Out of sight out of mind. However, we want items to go in easy and come out easy.”
Ben Soreff | House to Home Organizing
Tired of Jenga-ing towels out of an overstuffed linen closet? Today you’re going to gift yourself tidier towel storage.
✔ Get rid of anything torn, worn or stained.
✔ How often do you wash a load of towels? Keep enough for each family member to use between washings, plus a few extra as a buffer. Donate the rest.
✔ How many extra sets of bedding do you really need? Unless you frequently have multiple overnight guests, only keep one extra set per bed.
Now that you know what toiletries you’re keeping, it’s time to organize them where you use them.
✔ Wipe down or replace your shower caddies so they’re fresh and clean.
✔ Group products by category. Hair products on one shelf, face and body wash on another, etc.
✔ Don’t forget to regularly run your loofahs through the wash.
Use these two days to catch up on any tasks you haven’t had time for. Or take a well-earned break if you’re still on track!
Today’s decluttering challenge is all about making it easier to focus on your favorite show or movie—not the mess surrounding it.
✔ Add baskets or decorative bins to hold remotes, video game controllers and other small accessories.
✔ Label each cord and use cable ties or other cord organizers to group together everything related to the same device.
✔ Install one power strip for devices that should always be plugged in and another for those you use less frequently.
“I often help clients redesign their spaces, but only after we have decluttered. I find that when we remove what's no longer loved or needed, the space tells us what it wants to be.”
Kristen Ziegler | Minima
✔ Start with items that don't carry a sentimental charge.
✔ Sort the rest into categories. For example, “figurines,” “kids’ books,” “souvenirs” etc.
✔ From each category, keep only the items that spark a strong, positive memory or feeling. Go ahead and toss or donate the rest. If you want to hold onto a particular memory but not the object itself, snap a picture.
"Sometimes it helps to consolidate all sentimental items in the home and review them together at the end of your decluttering process. You will feel more confident to make these harder decisions if you've already made progress with other areas of the home.”
Kristen Ziegler | Minima
The living room is another space that accumulates items that should be stored elsewhere. Take today to put them back where they belong.
✔ Take toys back to your kids’ rooms.
✔ File paperwork away in the office.
✔ Return toiletries to the bathroom and coats to their closet.
Your daily decluttering challenges are almost complete. Time to bring a little order to side table drawers and coffee tables or ottomans that double as storage.
✔ Toss all the old electronic odds-and-ends, like cords and remotes you no longer need.
✔ Get rid of throw blankets and pillows that are worn out or simply not needed.
✔ Treat these spaces like any other storage area and use dividers or plastic containers to organize small items.
Whether you checked every task off the list or just focused on your biggest problem areas, we hope our decluttering challenge helped you make the most of Get Organized Month. Now it’s time to kick up your feet in your freshly organized living room and enjoy the results of all your hard work.