January is a time for new beginnings! And while it’s not exactly the season for “spring cleaning” quite yet, it’s still a popular time to do some purging and try to make sense of your home. If you’re still finding time to put away the holiday decor and figure out where all those new gifts are going to go, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

We asked Linda from Leave it for Linda, a 2020 Bucks Happening Finalist for Organization and Personal Assistance, if she could share some tips with our readers.

Continue reading for insight from a pro on how you can reclaim your space in the New Year!

1. Organizing & Storing Holiday Decorations:

Put away holiday decorations in a way that will be helpful for the following year when it comes time to decorate. For example, store all of the decor for the mantle together in the same bin, keep the decor for the interior of the house separate from the decor for the tree and separate from the exterior decor. I like to use extra large bins for the large category (e.g., interior decor) and then smaller bins within to break it down even more (e.g., mantel, windows, dining table). Similarly for the decor for the tree (e.g., balls, handmade ornaments, sentimental, Hallmark).

(Photo via the Leave it to Linda Facebook page.)

2. Making Room for New Toys:

The first step is to assess the working order of current toys. Discard toys that are broken. Toys that need repair, be realistic about your commitment to repairing them. If it’s not foreseeable that you will repair them, discard. Second, separate the new toys into two categories. Toys to play with now and toys to save for later. Box up the toys for later and store somewhere like the top of a closet for example. Once the novelty of the new toys you are adding into their current selection wears off, you can bring out a toy from the box. Third, go with the 1 in 1 out rule when adding toys into the current selection. For every toy that gets added to the space, one toy must leave the space. You can donate to a charitable organization, post for free on a yard sale site, or sell the item.

3. Creating a Schedule/Method for Tackling Your Home:

If you have a large decluttering journey ahead of you, I recommend taking 15-30 minutes each day to move through your home. Start with items that are clearly trash, next move into items that you can quickly identify as unwanted/unneeded, and save the difficult decisions for the end.

If you have already decluttered your home and you are working towards maintaining a clutter free and organized space, I recommend designating a few days a month to evaluate your spaces. Some clients we arrange for the last 3 Fridays a month to be maintenance decluttering days, as an example.

I typically follow the same method every time I work through my own spaces or client’s spaces: sort items into categories, purge unwanted items, assign homes for items, containerize your items, evaluate your space and make a plan for maintenance.

4. Paper Filing:

The New Year is the perfect time to purge your papers. There are a lot of excellent resources available online regarding paper retention (I.e., what you actually need to keep and for how long). Most important papers are available in digital form. I recommend getting up-to-date on what you actually need to keep and for how long, and then determining what you can access digitally. Anything that you can access digitally, you can discard the paper copy (make sure you have your login information written down somewhere so you can ensure access to those documents).

Create a simple two part system to help stay on top of your papers moving forward: To Do and To File. Designate one day a week where you will tackle these two categories in order to stay on top of your important papers.

5. Tax Preparation:

As we move into tax season, I recommend keeping a folder or a large manilla envelope labeled “taxes” handy. As you receive documents that you will need to prepare your taxes, add them to the envelope. If you work with an accountant to complete your taxes, they can give you a basic list of all of the documents needed. I like to keep a print out of this list attached to the front of the envelope.

6. Preparing to Declutter & Organize:

I always recommend before starting a decluttering and organizing project to designate a space in your home where you will store your items for donation or to sell. Popular locations are an unused room, in the garage close to the door, or a box inside the front door. Clearly label your bags or boxes “Donate.” Another recommendation is to determine beforehand how you are removing your unwanted items. Will you take your items to Goodwill? Will you arrange a pickup from GreenDrop? Designate a day on the calendar for this to happen.

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