Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Start the Year Off Right! 8 Tips to Organize Your Home This Winter

Why wait until spring to start your spring cleaning? A new year deserves a fresh start in your home. Here are 8 quick and easy ways to spruce up your house, clear the clutter and get things in order while you await the spring thaw.

 1. Tackle that home office. What better time than a brand new year to sort through your files and important papers and weed out the ones that can be shredded or recycled? Get your desk, shelves and filing cabinets tidy, and while you’re at it, create a file folder of all the things you come across that you will need for your taxes. April 15 isn’t THAT far away, you know!

2. Clean the OTHER desktop. Your computer can get just as cluttered with junk as your actual desktop. Now is a great time to delete old files, empty the trash (that’s Recycle Bin for you PC fans), store photos and other files you wish to save on an external hard drive or cloud drive, and even updating your operating system for maximum speed and performance.

3. Reorganize the cupboards. My kitchen cabinets are like the Bermuda Triangle. I can’t even count how many times I have pulled a perfectly good, but unfortunately now expired, can of soup or box of cookies out from behind the stack of boxes that was blocking my view. Starting the year with tidy, organized cupboards full of food you will actually use is a great way to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, too- that is, if your resolutions include eating healthy or staying budget-conscious. Bonus- any canned or boxed foods that are not past the expiration date but which you know you won’t really eat can go to the local food bank, which can use donations year-round, not just during the holidays.

4. Clear out your spice rack. Did you know spices can expire? After 6 months, they can lose their flavor and possibly even start to taste weird. And are you really going to use that tiny dusting of paprika in the otherwise empty container? Didn’t think so. Toss out all your old spices and take inventory of any replacements you need to buy. For an extra fun way to make your friends roll their eyes at you, put your spices in alphabetical order to make them easier to find.

5. Wrangle the winter wear. Match up all mittens with their mates, hang scarves on a rack created for the purpose of hanging scarves, clear off your coat rack which is probably about to topple over from the weight of so many coats, and hang all the coats back in the closet. A nice wicker basket or bin placed inside the closet is a great way to keep track of gloves, hats and earmuffs, especially when you have kids. Next time you want to build a snowman, you’ll know where all your outerwear is!

6. Schedule your appointments. Dental checkups, pediatric visits, gyno appointments, eye exams- get it all scheduled at the beginning of the year and keep track of appointment dates and times on a wall calendar in the kitchen or another room you’re in often, or on your phone or tablet. Set appointment reminders to beep when the appointment is imminent. Never miss another tooth cleaning!

7. Clean out your closets. Go through all your clothes and divide into two categories: keep or give away. Be ruthless- if you haven’t worn it in two years, it goes in the giveaway pile. If any of the clothes you wish to keep have stains, rips, or need to be dry cleaned, put aside for mending or cleaning. Go through your kids’ closets and pull out anything that no longer fits or needs to be replaced. Round up all your giveaways and drive to your local charity donation center immediately after cleaning the closets- you won’t end up procrastinating and leaving the bags of clothes in the garage for 6 months if you drive it right over while you’re on a roll.

8. Sort your pots and pans. If there are any you don’t use regularly, or if you recently got a new set of cookware, donate the ones you no longer use to charity. Hanging racks for pot/pan lids are a convenient and affordable way to minimize clutter and ensure that you will always be able to find the right lid at the right time. 

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