16 Things to Get Rid of Before the End of 2016
As the year comes to a close, this is the perfect time to evaluate what you own and to create some space in your life. Take note of what you haven’t worn all year, what clutter is getting in the way of your daily routine, and what shoes have seen better days. Donate, recycle, consign, or pass on as much as you can to begin 2017 with a fresh start. As a professional organizer, here are the 16 categories I recommend you tackle to get organized before the end of 2016!
1. What I like to call “PM’s”, or Purchasing Mistakes
These are items that even if they are new or were expensive, have not yet added any value to your life. An example would be an item of clothing that still has the tags on it even though you purchased it months ago.
PM’s are the clutter my clients often have the most difficulty with. I encourage my clients not to feel guilty that they spent money and barely or never used an item, but instead to remember that somebody else could use and enjoy it. I suggest my clients consign to potentially earn some money back if the item is a current style, to consider giving it to a friend, or to donate it to a good cause such as Dress for Success.
2. Digital Clutter
Just because it doesn’t take up physical space, digital clutter slows down productivity and often creates stress. Purge your computer files, your contacts, and most importantly, your email inbox. Set up folders to archive emails that you will reference in the future, including an action folder of emails that need a response; delete the rest. Take time to unsubscribe to email lists. Go one step further and purge your social media. Turn off notifications you don’t want popping up, delete or un-follow Facebook friends who are not positive forces in your life, and consider reducing the amount of time you spend plugged in.
3. Gift Closet
Instead of keeping a stock of generic gifts, buy the gift you want for that specific person when the occasion arises, as opposed to keeping a cabinet full of “almost right” gifts like bath sets, dish towels and clearance candles. Consider consumables such as a bottle of wine, a gift certificate for an experience, or gourmet nuts and cheese so you don’t pass on clutter to the recipient.
4. Paraphernalia for activities and interests you no longer pursue
Whether it’s the half-knit scarf you started last year, the downhill skis you used before your knee surgery, or the beat up table in your garage that you told yourself you would refinish, let it go if you have not made progress on it or used it this year. Seeing unfinished projects or unused items taking up valuable space never feels good. Letting them go will create space for you to prioritize an activity you currently love or to invest time in a new interest.
My rule of thumb for magazines is 3 months. If you haven’t read a magazine within 3 months of receiving it, I either make myself schedule a Sunday morning to sit down and actually catch up on all my reading, or recycle it and move on to the next month. You will always get another issue, so don’t let the backlog pile up.
Sleeping on your pillow every night fills it with dust bunnies, dead skin cells and oils over time (yuck, I know). Even if you are changing your sheets regularly, you might not be changing out your pillows often enough. Toss your pillows annually and get new ones, or at the very least give them a good wash.
7. Apps You Don’t Use
Most of us have a handful of “go-to” apps that we use constantly such as Google Maps, Evernote and Instagram. In order to save time looking for things on your phone and to eliminate visual clutter, delete any apps that you aren’t using regularly. The great thing is, if you delete one that you later need, it’s no problem, just download it again.
8. Pantry Items
Check to see if any of your pantry items are expired, and toss those out. It’s always good to have a few basics on hand such as rice, flour, canned goods, etc., but think about using up some of the things that just take up shelf space. Have a “COTPD” or a Clean Out the Pantry Dinner” and actually use some of those items instead of going to the store one evening. Anything you don’t think you will use or you have too much of, donate to a local food drive.
Living in Colorado like I do, most people ski, hike, climb, or any other myriad of outdoor activities. With most of these sports though, comes gear. No matter where you live, there are probably items you use every season every time you go outside, and probably gear that you have purchased that sits in your front closet or at the bottom of your ski bag. Now is a great time to clean that out and donate it, or consider a sports consignment shop for items in good condition.
10. Car Clutter
It’s easy for clutter to build up when you’re on-the-go. Take the time to clean out your ride and eliminate any unnecessary items. Throw away trash, drop off the dry cleaning you’ve been carrying around, and collect any items that need to go back into the house. Wipe down the surfaces, and only keep the necessities in there from now on including a winter snow scraper, bungee cords, hand sanitizer, and change for parking.
11. Refrigerator Magnets
A lot of organizing is about reducing visual clutter. Keeping your refrigerator cleared off is a simple way to make your kitchen look a little more streamlined and if you don’t have magnets, you won’t be tempted to pin up business cards, articles, and notes that you should either deal with immediately or recycle.
12. Your College Textbooks & Notebooks
It is incredibly unlikely that you will actually pull out that 700lb bio textbook one day for some light reading. Same goes for your notes from World History 200. You’ve already completed the course and have absorbed the information you need, so let the books and papers go.
13. Under-the-Bed Boxes
Storing stuff under your bed is not ideal for keeping energy flowing in your bedroom. Even psychologically, sleeping on top of clutter can be stressful. Avoid storing things under your bed as much as possible. If you live in a tiny space, I know this might not be possible, so try to reduce and tidy what you have underneath your bed, and make sure things are cleaned and folded before you tuck them away.
14. Anything from a Past Relationship
Old photos, that T shirt you sleep in, a card from Valentine’s Day 3 years ago, items from boyfriends past are small reminders from that time in your life. Getting rid of that stuff can clear your energy to be open to new relationships and a help to let the past ones go.
15. Expired Cosmetics
You don’t want to put expired food in your belly, so why would you want to put expired products on your face? Makeup and skincare products have a shelf life, so toss out any cosmetics you’ve had for over a year unless you know it lasts longer. Clean all of your brushes too so you don’t spread bacteria into new cosmetics.
16. Behaviors that No Longer Serve You
With the new year approaching, this is also the ideal time to assess and eradicate behaviors that are not benefitting you. Whether it’s chronic lateness, grudge holding, or not getting enough sleep, make a conscious effort to eliminate this habit from your life. Bust behaviors that increate clutter such as impulse shopping and not putting things away when you’re done with them. By making a few small changes this year, you can enhance your productivity, space, time and joy.