Wondering how to get organized in the new year? Because every December 31st, you make a New Year’s resolution to “finally get totally organized for the new year,” only to give up completely before spring even rolls around?
Take Small Strides to Get Organized for the New Year
If making a huge goal to get organized for the new year isn’t working for you, take a step back.
The best way to get organized is to start smaller and work with your personality.
I know, you’re probably all-or-nothing, go-big-or-go-home etc etc etc. You’re thinking that baby steps are boring and you just need a couple of weeks with no other commitments and you can “turn this house around.”
All thoughts I’ve thunk.
And it’s somewhat true that if you can get rid of your family for a little while and focus, you can probably make some headway on the organization front this year.
But how often do you get to do that?
Plus how tempted would you be to catch up on sleep and “me” time if you did get rid of all the mess-mongers for a week or two?
This New Year’s Eve when you’re cranking out the lofty goals in your resolutions list, instead focus on making small-but-solid strides forward.
Replace the very general, vague “getting totally organized for the new year” goal, with ways to solve specific problems one-by-one.
In other words, instead of planning an all-out assault on every room in your house, armed with plastic bins, labels, and Ziploc bags, start with one of these steps to get your house and yourself more organized in the new year.
This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here. As an Amazon Associate (and from other affiliates) I earn from qualifying purchases. This doesn’t cost you anything extra and means this blog may break even someday. Who knows? It could happen…
- 1. Stop losing these three things.
- 2. Get organized by using your calendar more effectively.
- 3. Break up the big stuff.
- 4. Organize and capture thoughts and To Dos electronically
- 5. A photo is worth way more than 1,000 words
- 6. The floor is hot lava
- 7. Deal with homeless clutter
- 8. Paperwork roundup
- 9. Start a routine but keep it basic
1. Stop losing these three things to get organized for the new year.
No, not a magical three things. You get to pick.
Choose the top 3 things you’re always losing.
I’m sure your keys are #1.
What else are you always looking for? Your purse? Your wallet? Your baby’s binky? A pen? Your phone?
No fair saying “my sanity.”
First of all, that was too easy. I’m sure you can think of something funnier than that.
And secondly, don’t even both to look for it for the next 18-years-minus-the-age-of-your-youngest-child.
Now brainstorm a way to keep track of that thing.
How about a bowl by the door for your keys?
If you know you’ll still pass it by, how about a bowl in every room for your keys?
Maybe you can at least train yourself to toss them into the nearest bowl, if not the ideal bowl by the door. Then at least you only have to search a limited number of places.
You can apply the bowl-in-every-room thing to just about any small item you’re always putting down randomly and losing (earrings, scrunchie, reading glasses, receipts you just took out of your pockets, etc.)
Or perhaps buy a Tile for your keys.
Tiles for my husband’s keys (before he trained himself to put them in one place) kept him from being late for work so many times!
For my reading glasses, I went a step further. Because I when I need them, I want them right now. It’s crazy annoying to have to go search the house for a way to see.
So I bought one of these eyeglass magnets from Etsy.
That’s not an affiliate link – I just love mine so much I share this tip with everyone.
The habit of putting my glasses right back on the magnet loop is so ingrained now that my glasses have been attached to me 16/7 for over 13 months now.
So instead of a huge goal to “stop losing everything,” master keeping track of the top 3 things you lose (the ones that matter – as in you can’t leave the house or do important tasks without them).
Think how much more organized you’re going to feel when you can confidently walk out of your house with your keys every day.
2. Get organized by using your calendar more effectively.
When I say learn to use a calendar, I’m not talking about buying a thick, expensive planner with lists and color-coding, etc. right off the starting block.
And I’m not talking about a bullet journal.
I’m just talking about being more effective using your plain old everyday calendar.
Learn how to use yours for more than just doctor’s appointments and weddings.
If you are trying to get organized in the new year and you struggle with keeping track of things like:
- Whether your kid needs their gym uniform tomorrow
- When the school picture day form is due
- What day to Frontline your cat or turn your mattress
- And when your town is picking up leaves this year
…I seriously want you to hop over and read this post about using a calendar more effectively.
Unless you don’t want to get distracted from this post. Don’t worry – I’ll also be linking it at the bottom.
If you don’t want to read my calendar post, my feelings won’t be hurt.
And to prove it, I’ll share a few tips here anyway:
- Consolidate all your calendars into one. Any time you get a list of dates from anyone, add it to your main calendar.
- Keep it where you can find it at all times.
- Update it every week.
- Check it every morning and every night.
- Don’t use it as a fantasy to do list, scheduling all kinds of dream tasks. Instead, keep it for to do’s tied to specific dates.
The planner post actually has a lot more information than that and it’s one of my best posts, so I know it’ll help you with organizing the new year.
I even drew a bunch of stuff for it, it’s that special. I mean, it’s just stick figures, but still…
3. Break up the big stuff.
Start tying larger tasks (grocery shopping, laundry, etc.) to a specific day every week.
You can keep it the same every week or change the day each week – that part doesn’t matter and is up to you.
The key is to not end up with 3-5 big things to do all in one day because you didn’t spread them out.
Monday: Paperwork and phone calls
Tuesday: Clean upstairs
Wednesday: Clean downstairs
Thursday: Catch up
Friday: Grocery-shopping and errands
Saturday: Yard work
Even if you can only do most of the larger task on its assigned day and finish on a different day, you’re still better off.
4. Organize and capture thoughts and To Dos electronically
Use an app like Evernote or Google Drive to jot down things to do or remember as soon as they pop into your head.
Or use email the way I do.
I capture everything easily using a keyword and my email.
You can read more about my email system to remember things here. It’s one of the three most important things I do to stay organized, because I have the memory of a goldfish.
Then on your “paperwork day,” go through your notes for To Do reminders.
The other two most crucial ways I stay organized are the calendar thing above, and the paperwork box thing below.
I’m dumping my three most important organizing tips in one post.
Just because I can…
5. A photo is worth way more than 1,000 words
A photo is worth all the words if it ends up being the only way you can remember the words.
Take a photo of any paper with words on it as soon as it hits your hot little hands. That way if you somehow misplace the paper, you have a record.
Do this for:
- Doctor’s appointment cards
- Papers from your child’s school with dates and notes about what to send or bring to an event
- Anything you write down. Ever. I take photos of every to do list, grocery list, and menu I write. Just in case.
Still process the paper the way you normally would. But this way you have a backup in your phone just in case.
This is critical for me.
Because even with decent organizing skills and the best intentions, papers still get stuck to each other and I still accidentally shred the “do not shred!” pile.
*Don’t take a photo of anything with sensitive information on it without blocking that part out first, especially if your phone backs up to the cloud.
6. The floor is hot lava
Remember that game?
Was my family the only one who played it while getting chased by The Lava People?
If you manage to do nothing else to contribute to the physical organization and cleanliness of your house this year, make a vow to not put anything on the floor (or steps) other than things that belong there:
- Furniture legs and lamp
- Very large toys
- Hampers and trash cans
- Your feet
- And, possibly, your butt
Not even for a second.
- No footless shoes.
- No temporary tubs-in-the-corner storage.
- No dirty laundry waiting for the washer.
- No shopping bags “just for a second.”
- No trash.
- No anything on the steps to go up.
This was my new year’s resolution one year and it was miraculous what a difference it made.
The clutter is so much easier to pick up and put away when it’s hip or eye level. Not to mention, being hip or eye level makes it more visible and in my face, so I actually deal with it more quickly.
Which would you take care of faster?
- A pile of grocery bags, a case of water bottles, and a mega-pack of toilet paper piled on the floor outside the pantry to be put away eventually?
- Or the same huge pile on your kitchen counters?
I can hear you thinking how inconvenient it would be to have no counter space and you’re right.
That’s kind of the point.
Sure, you may shove it aside and work around it for a little while. I admit I would.
But “eventually” comes a lot faster when you have to chop onions using a cutting board balanced on your knees.
The best part of the year I banned all temporary floor storage is that nothing got kicked around, piled up in corners and forgotten about, tripped over, or trampled on.
If your house is usually a mess, try this. I promise it will make a gigantic difference for a miniscule amount of effort.
7. Deal with homeless clutter
If you never know what to do with:
- Unidentifiable but probably important odds-and-ends
- Tags for clothing you may return
- Wandering flash drives, ear buds, and reading glasses
…try creating a place just for little things that don’t currently belong anywhere.
I use an over-the-door shoe hanger inside the door of my pantry for this type of junk.
It’s like a shanty town for homeless clutter.
I have pockets for things I like to have handy in the kitchen like common office supplies (pens, pencils, envelopes, labels) plus pockets for:
- Receipts waiting to go to my office
- Tags and packaging for possible returns
- Extra reading glasses
- Backup prescription eyeglasses
- Electronic doodads like flash drives
- Floating earbuds
- Manuals for the 1-2 small kitchen appliances I can never remember how to use
- And unidentifiable pieces of metal and plastic that look important.
An over-the-door organizer is perfect for stuff that would overflow a junk drawer.
8. Paperwork roundup
Rounding up all paperwork is one of my top 3 most important organizing tips. And it’s another really simple and effortless one.
Put a lidded box in your kitchen or another central location for all papers coming into the house.
Anytime you come across a piece of paper of any type, put it there. Eventually your family will know where to look when they’re searching for papers they laid down.
Putting it in the kitchen makes it super convenient when you’re clearing mail and homework papers off the counters to make dinner.
Not only does it make it a lot easier to find paperwork that goes missing, it also keeps everything together and organized. Then you can sort through it once a week on the day you chose above (remember that?) and take care of any action items then.
9. Start a routine but keep it basic
And the last baby step toward larger organization goals is to set yourself up for success the next day by doing a few small tasks consistently every night.
Or at least most nights – we’re not shooting for perfection, remember?
Some ideas of tasks that will make for a groanless morning (okay, maybe not totally groanless, since mornings suck as a rule):
- Check your calendar and check with your family to see what’s coming up the next day (if you don’t know how to use a calendar effectively, see #2 above or check out this post on using a calendar as a beginner)
- Come up with a dinner plan for the next day so you have plenty of time to thaw out meat or set up the crockpot to turn on in the morning
- Put stuff by the door that you’ll need first thing. Make sure everyone knows where their shoes, backpacks, and homework (check the kitchen box!) are before they go to bed
- Check for clean towels, a fresh dishcloth, and to make sure everyone has socks and underwear for the next day
- And, if you can manage it, tackle a minimal cleanup of the kitchen.
By minimal, I mean just washing the dishes and wiping the messy parts of the counters. Oh, and empty the sink – clumpy, greasy, dishrags floating in cold, gray water are in my top 10 for grossness I don’t want to deal with first thing in the morning.
If you absolutely detest any of these tasks, DO NOT PUT THEM INTO YOUR ROUTINE. Especially not at first.
Start with the least offensive stuff that will get your morning off to a good start.
Otherwise, you may avoid the whole thing.
And if you hate routines, don’t think of this as a “routine,” as though it’s all one thing and you must do it all or none of it.
I prefer to think of my routines as a bunch of tasks I can check off one-by-one. If I don’t get them all done, at least I did some.
Don’t Try to Do Accomplish All 9 New Year Organizing Tasks At Once
Getting organized for the new year is possible if you approach it in very small chunks.
I know I listed 9 ways to reach your new year’s organizing goals, but I don’t mean for you to do them all at once.
If you struggle every year with organization and get nowhere (or possibly even give up), just pick one of the above organizing ideas.
- Put a stop to the morning key/shoe/backpack scavenger hunt
- Or manage to get “fix the threshold” onto your to do list without tripping on it 47 times first
- Or put your hands immediately on that contact lens rebate form
…you’ll be so inspired to keep moving forward towards your organizing goals in the new year, one step at a time.
Which is good, because the Lava People are coming.
My brother said so.