Getting organized is a popular New Year’s Resolution - every year!
So, let’s start with making that a tangible goal. Start a list someplace you won’t lose it (paper or on your phone) and name 6 things you want to organize, and set yourself a due date. (That can be one every two months this year.) Next, add time on your calendar to accomplish these projects. Honor your time the same way you would if you had an appointment with a doctor. To keep yourself accountable, tell someone about it. (Or tell me- on social media or by email!) You can even ask a friend to check on your progress later in the year.
That’s it - your first step in the 31-Day GO Challenge is complete! (Don’t worry, other days this month we will tackle one of your coffins!) Make today the day you decide to get organized - and do something about it.
#2 - DECLUTTER YOUR HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
As you clean up from the holidays, notice if there are decorations you didn’t use this year. Or does that Christmas cupcake platter sit in the storage box year after year? What are you holding on to them for? Free them up…put them in a donation pile to take away to later this month.
Organizing is work. But there is nothing difficult about it. The hardest part is getting started.
#3 - DUMP OUT A JUNK DRAWER
Dump out a junk drawer, toss the trash, take things out that have other homes, and put back in the ‘usable junk’. You can even do this while watching TV - make the commercials productive time! If you need some easy drawer dividers, use some of the small boxes you received with your Christmas gifts.
#4 - ESTABLISH AN EARLY MORNING RITUAL
Productivity gurus agree that a good day starts with a good routine. Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Pick something for yourself - a short set of stretches, a large glass of fresh water, a walk around the block - or even into the backyard. Whatever you pick, write it down - or share here - and start tomorrow with your new tradition.
#5 - SET UP A DONATION STATION
Do you have a permanent outbox? A place where things live when they need to go somewhere else - to a friend or family member, or to be donated? Some people have a spot in the closet. Some people hang a bag near their laundry room to capture too-small or too-unflattering clothes as they come out of the dryer.
If you have a designated donation station,is it functional? Are the items in bags that you can easily part with? Will carrying the items out of the house be easy to do? Make sure the items are packed and ready for departure. If you do NOT have a designated spot - create one today. That’s a pretty easy organizing challenge, agreed?
#6 - ATTACK YOUR INBOX
Today carve out 25-minutes to whittle down your email. You may not get through it all - don't worry. Don’t start with items you need to respond to - start by deleting items you don’t. Use a service like Unroll.me or Mailstrom to help with this project. Before you finish this challenge, though, schedule 30-minute blocks on your calendar for each week this month (or this year!) to tame your inbox. Some people like Sunday nights; others like Monday morning.
You don’t have to stop everything to get organized. You just have to make time.
#7 - PLAY GAMES WITH YOUR TOY CHEST
Visit your games closet, or shelf or toy box. Still have Candyland but your kids are in high school? Do you have pieces of Mousetrap rolling around inside the cabinet? Do you have old technology cartridges from a game console you no longer own? Give it up. Time to purge. Hello Donation Station.
We will be giving away a $25 Container Store Gift Card today to someone that has been showing us their successes and using the #GO31Day hashtag! Will it be you? Check your Day #8 Email tomorrow morning to find out!
#8 - FASHION RESET: TAKE ONE
Closets can be daunting - so don’t do take it all on today. Let’s just start with things you wear on the top of your body that hang up. Take all the hanging shirts and tops out of your closet (not coats and jackets - that is a different category.) Yes. Take them ALL out. (Konmari style.) Put them on your bed.
To do this exercise, you need to change your mindset from “What do I want to giveaway?” to “What do I want to keep because I love it? What is in my ‘hall of fame?’ ” Now, pull out all the hanging tops you LOVE, are in good shape, and fit you nicely. Put those back in the closet, collars all facing the same direction. For the items remaining on the bed…to the donation station they go.
#9 - A NAKED TABLE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL
Take a break from your clothes. Let’s dive into your table linens. Open the door/drawer to your table linens storage area. You guessed it. Pull them all out. Napkins, placemats, tablecloths, napkin rings, etc. Now, with the same mindset as yesterday (thank you Marie Kondo), choose the table linens you love and bring you joy. Put only those back in the drawer or closet. The rest...get them ready to donate to a charity or a friend.
#10 - TIME BLOCK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THE WEEK
Check out your schedule for the week. Will it work? Is there more on your to-do list than you can get to for this week?
Take the top 3 tasks you MUST accomplish this week (work or personal tasks) and block time on your calendar to address those. Honor that time as you would do for a critical meeting. If you happen to have the appropriate amount of time blocked already, then choose a task that is important, but not urgent. Need to renew a license? Need to file an insurance claim? Need to do something for tax prep by January 31? Block time on your calendar for that this week.
Make organizing a part of your daily life. Schedule it and respect your schedule.
#11 - DESK PREP: GET THE JUNK OUT OF THE WAY
Open your desk drawer. Empty on your desk. White-Out from another decade still hanging around? Staples that don't fit any stapler? Address labels that have lost their stickiness? DVD or CD-ROMs? Bye bye.
Put back into the desk only what you use frequently or need close by. Feel free to use drawer or utensil dividers to help sort minutia.
And you're done for the day. Great job!
Take everything that is leftover to the place it belongs in the house - or the recycling bin.
#12 - ATTACK YOUR PILE OF MAIL
See that pile of mail that arrived since Christmas? Tackle it today. Start by recycling the junk mail and paperwork. As you go through the rest, triage:
Action items that need response/attention/follow-up;
Reference items that can be filed somewhere close by;
Old items that can be archived.
After you go through the piles - go ahead - put the filing in its place.
#13 - CLEAR THE CLUTTER: YOUR DESKTOP
Evaluate all the things on top of your desk or work surface. All the items and supplies taking up space on the top should be used daily. Everything else should be put in a closet or drawer - or donated. (For example, how many pens do you need on top of your desk? A 3-hole punch, really?)
#14 - CLEAR THE CLUTTER: YOUR BOOKSHELVES
Walk over to your bookshelves. Don’t worry - you don’t have to pull them all out today. (No Konmari Method today.) Just pick between 5-8 books that you can release. Take them to your donation station.
Easy challenge today, I hope!
#15 - FASHON RESET: TAKE TWO
Just like on January 8, we know…clothes can be daunting. That is why we will only focus on BOTTOMS today. Pull out all your pants: jeans, dress pants, recreation pants…throw them all on your bed. Now, pull back out of the pile ONLY the ones you love, fit you well, and are not in need of repair. Put those back in the closet. The rest…you know what Marie Kondo would say…thank them for their time and free them up to serve someone else. Or repair them, if you will.
#16 - YOUR OWN WHITE SALE. IN REVERSE.
If you have clutter, you are richer than you think. Look at decluttering as an opportunity to share your abundance (the stuff you don't need) with people who could really use it. So, head to your linen closet. Pull out the towels and sheets. Which ones could do someone else some good that you are no longer using? Pass them along.
#17 - THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE: MISMATCHED TUPPERWARE
Food Containers. (As a mother of three kids who all need/want lunch at school but won't touch the 'hot lunch' in the cafeteria, this is a killer!)
Do your lids match the bases? Take 15 minutes, match up your food storage containers, toss or recycle the rest.
#18 - PREPARE FOR DONATION DAY
Call Salvation Army to schedule a furniture pick-up of something looming around your home causing guilt from underuse. (Or they will take a large quantity of other donations as needed.) Don’t think of decluttering as getting rid of stuff. Think of it as giving to someone who needs it more than you, or as recycling.
If you don't have anything large to donate, load up your car with everything you've been collecting for donation, and drop it at a charity near you today.
#19 - COFFEE MUGS FULL OF PENCILS
Head to all the coffee mugs and glassware containing pens, pencils and highlighters scattered around your house. Test those markers and pens. Sharpen the pencils. Toss the ones that have died. Or, visit the Crayola Recycling project webpage and see if you can find a school that is participating. You can then send them along to be responsibly recycled.
#20 - IMPORTANT TASKS YOU NEVER DO... BUT SHOULD.
Take 10-minutes today to address a lingering but important information task. Update your will, call to schedule an appointment with a financial planner/attorney and stick to it, update your beneficiaries, change your passwords, update your family emergency plan. Just find something to attend to is not urgent, but still important.
#21 - FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE
This one is inspired by my friend and fellow blogger, Jennie Winton at Mission-Minded. Create a HAPPY file. Either a physical or digital file will do, but create a place to put anything that makes you happy. A “kudos” email from your boss, a letter from a friend…make a special place to keep these items so they aren’t floating around in your bills to file.
We will be giving away a $25 Container Store Gift Card today to someone that has been showing us their successes and using the #GO31Day hashtag! Will it be you? Check your Day #22 Email tomorrow morning to find out!
#22 - CLEAR THE CLUTTER: DIGITAL WORKSPACE
Take 15 minutes and delete old files from your computer. (NOT emails - old documents and other files.) We know - it would probably take more than 15 minutes to get through it all. But that is not the point. Just attack what you can. SOME progress is better than NO progress.
#23 - CLEAR THE CLUTTER: BATHROOM DETOX
Head to the bathroom. Get rid of all bath and shower items you haven’t used in more than a month. Move extras to a guest bathroom, or pour them into travel -size containers. Donate the rest.
#24 - FASHION RESET: TAKE THREE
Back to the closet! Or coat closet. This time, pull all your jackets and coats and take them to task like January 8 and 15. Put all your outwear garments on the bed - or sofa (or as Marie Kondo says, the floor.) Then, with your mindset focused on what to keep (versus what to give away), pick up all the jackets and coats that you LOVE and serve a purpose. Too many heavy-weight options for a season that doesn’t last long? Share them with someone else who could use them by placing them in your Donation Station. (see January 5.)
#25 - DROWNING IN MEMORABILIA
Preserve the memory - not the item. If you are keeping an item because of the memory attached to it, take a photo of the item and then donate it. The photos take up less space. Same with Kid’s artwork: take photos of your kid with their artwork from the fall. Send them to Shutterfly or another photo service now. When the last day of school hits, photograph the rest of the artwork, make a quick book and let go of the physical items.
#26 - FREE UP YOUR TIME
Delete one low-value task or commitment from your to-do list. Fill the schedule with something you love doing, or an organizing project.
#27 - CLEAR THE CLUTTER: MEDICINE CABINET RE-DO
Today is the day to clean out your medicine cabinet. Toss makeup products you never wear. Take out leftover and expired medicines.
Just remember - use caution when disposing of unused medicines. In fact, there is some controversy over how to properly dispose of medicines. The FDA says it is okay to flush some pills in the toilet, but it is hard to decipher what is acceptable. The first step should be to look for a medicine collection facility in your area (Some police/fire stations also take back medicines. Earth911 offers a take back search tool here, too. Marin County, CA, has a medical waste program - info here. ) Place other items in sealed plastic bags in your regular trash. Some organizations suggest adding kitty litter or water to absorb the medicines as much as possible, too.) You don’t want children or animals or wildlife to get into these in the trash, and we don't want the medications to end up in our water streams.
#28 - BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Clean our your Wallet today. Dump it all out on the table. Keep receipts you really need - discard the rest. Business cards? Scan them to Evernote to auto-populate your contacts. Small items to repair living in your change purse? Pull them out and put into a ziplock bag to take to a jeweler or other repair.
#29 - FASHION RESET: TAKE FOUR
Shoes. Even if you are not Emelda Marcos, you may have at least one pair of shoes that has past its prime - or that is uncomfortable. Today is the day to clean out your shoe closet!
#30 - TIME FOR A CLEAN HOUSE
Drop off your Donation Pile to a charity you respect. You’ve made a lot of decisions to create this donation pile - don’t revisit it! Simply place the bags into your car and swing by your charities of choice. You will drive away feeling refreshed and content in knowing your items are now free to be used and loved by someone in need.
#31 - CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES
Congratulations! You have completed the 31-day Get Organized challenge! Now for the rest of the year…give some careful thought to how you want to continue your progress. What are you doing that contributes to clutter in your life? Pick your single-worst disorganized habit and work on changing that behavior over the next months. See if your habits change! Good luck!