New Year’s Resolutions 11 Professional Organizers Are Making for 2021
Even the pros have messy fridges, overflowing closets and way too many pictures on their phones. Here's how they plan to streamline their lives in the new year.
Strategize, Simplify and Streamline
A lot of people don’t understand your stuff owns you as much as you own it. You pay to take care of it, financially and mentally. This is where professional organizers come in. They can help you decide what’s really important to you, how to organize it to best suit your lifestyle, and how to get rid of everything else. Do that, and you can start the new year with a clean slate.
“My motto is, ‘If you keep too much, you can’t find what’s truly important,’ ” says Monica Friel, the CEO (chief executive organizer) at Chaos to Order.
To set you on the right path, we asked the pros to share their best tips — like these 26 secrets professional organizers won’t tell you for free — and to share their personal resolutions for 2021.
“I’m Going To Group Chores Into Batch Tasks”
Organizing is so much easier when you have a plan to tackle tasks rather than just jumping into whatever project presents itself. So for 2021, Sherri Monte, a professional organizer and the owner of Elegant Simplicity, decided to group her organizing projects into “batch tasks.” Plus, these organizational tips will even save you money.
For instance, instead of doing laundry all throughout the week, she does it all at the same time on the same day, catching up on a favorite TV show while she folds. “I actually schedule time on my calendar for decluttering and organizing specific tasks,” she says. “This allows me to be more present with my family while still having an organized home.”
Along with this idea, try these 50 organizing tips you’ll wish you knew all along.
“I Commit To Decluttering My Calendar”
Time clutter is as real as physical clutter. Your schedule needs to be cleaned out just like your closet does, says Liz Jenkins, a certified professional organizer and the owner of A Fresh Space.
“This year, I will go through my regular engagements and reduce them to free up time to work on some projects that are important to me,” she says. “I’ve realized that some work and personal commitments are no longer as relevant as they once were, so I can let those go in favor of doing something new — like yoga once a week. There are only so many hours in a week, and I’ve learned that in order to bring something new in, you need to let something go.”
If you really want to declutter, stop buying these things.
“I Will Organize All My Phone Pics”
We’re taking more pictures than ever, but how many do you actually go back and look at? Often, they’re posted to social media, and those precious memories are promptly forgotten. That’s why it’s so important to have an organization system for your digital photos, says Susan Rosenbaum, a professional digital photo organizer and the owner of Photo Overflow.
“To stay on top of my pictures, each Sunday I will review my smartphone photos and screenshots,” she explains. “Then I will delete the images that I don’t want and back up the rest to an external hard drive. Lastly, I will ‘favorite’ any I’d like to be kept on my phone and delete the rest from my phone.” You can also have pictures you treasure printed in books.
“I’m Going To Focus on Living More Sustainably”
The health of the planet is an important concern these days. How you organize your stuff can impact how big your “footprint” is, says Devin VonderHaar, a professional organizer who owns the Modern Minimalist.
“One of my biggest goals for 2021 is living more sustainably,” she says. To do this, she’s resolved to make three changes. Only buy clothing second hand. Limit disposable plastics to one bottle per month. And switch to home goods, food and other products that offer zero-waste options.
“I Will Stop Impulse Buying”
Who hasn’t gone into a store or on Amazon only to end up buying at least three things that weren’t on your list? Impulse buying is a real problem for your wallet and for home clutter, according to Amy Bloomer, a professional organizer at Let Your Space Bloom.
“In 2021, to reduce clutter, I resolve to be more mindful of what purchases I bring into my home,” she says. “When shopping online, I will follow the rule to leave items in my cart for at least 24 hours before purchasing. I will also refrain from using the ‘subscribe and save’ feature on Amazon to avoid the buildup of unnecessary items. The savings are not worth the resulting clutter in my home.”
If you don’t want to give up impulse buying, here are 15 impulse buys you won’t regret.
“I’m Going To Donate Unused Items Once a Month”
Too many people declutter with the intention of donating the unused items, only to leave the donation bags forgotten in their garage or basement. So this year, Bloomer is committing to making sure her things really get donated.
“I have placed a donation bin at the bottom of my front hall closet to make it quick and easy to collect items that I come across during my daily routine,” she says. Then once a month, she takes the items to a local charity. Here’s where to donate every type of thing from old work clothes to used coats.
You should, however, think twice about donating these items.
“I’m Doing ‘No-Spend’ January”
Fact: The fewer things you buy, the fewer things you have to clean up and organize. To help do this, Lisa Dooley, an organizing coach and the author of the book “More Space. More Time. More Joy!,” decided to try a money fast.
“I’m going to make a moratorium on buying anything that is not fresh food,” she says. “No getting sucked into buying extra canned goods, no purchasing ‘great deals’ on health and beauty items, and no after-Christmas shopping ‘bargains.’ ” Of course, this also helps you save money.
Try these sneaky ways to save money on everyday items.
“I’ll Practice Saying ‘No’ More Often”
We all get so many requests to help and do and join and attend. But to stay organized (and sane), you must be selective about what you agree to, Dooley says.
“My rule is: ‘If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no,’ ” she says. “By being intentional and selective, I’ll have more time for what I am passionate about. In 2021, I resolve to remember that I need to say a kind ‘no, thanks’ to anything that does not align with my purpose and goals and does not lead me to serve with joy.”
“I’m Preparing To Move Into a Tiny House”
The “tiny house” trend has grown popular in recent years, thanks to its emphasis on living simply and avoiding reckless consumerism. “I am planning on living in a house [that] if not tiny is at least much smaller in a few years, so my resolution this year is to downsize to prepare for that move,” says Marty Basher, a home organization professional with Modular Closets.
To prepare, Basher will determine the things he absolutely needs. “I plan on doing this by making note of what I use the most in a month, and then packing away whatever I haven’t used,” he explains. “If it’s still not needed within another few months, I’ll get rid of it for good.” Check out the coolest tiny houses in each state.
“I Will Digitally Declutter All My Devices”
Clutter you can see right in front of you is begging to be organized. But digital clutter — unused apps, old photos, music or podcast downloads, subscriptions you no longer need, old files — can take up just as much space in your life without you even realizing it.
“I’m going to go through and delete rarely used applications, which can take up a lot of your storage space and slow down your computer,” he says. “I will also create clearly marked digital folders, organize the apps and files I need into them, and then move anything else to a cloud service.”
“I’m Getting Approved for TSA Precheck To Simplify My Travel”
Travel is a way of life for many people, and being organized is essential to doing it with as little pain and inconvenience as possible.
“This year, I resolve to get the Real ID and TSA PreCheck,” says Jenkins. “To do this, I will gather all related documents, including ordering a new copy of our marriage certificate that went missing during one of our moves, and submit all of it within a month.”
“I’m Going To Keep My Fridge Organized and Waste-Free”
Of all the organizing you need to do, cleaning out your refrigerator is probably close to the bottom of your list. After all, there’s not much fun in sniffing old containers of milk and trying to recognize the leftovers under a layer of mold.
But it’s so important to keep a clean refrigerator and not just for sanitary reasons, says professional organizer Sonja Meehan, owner of the Simply Thriving Organization.
“In 2021, I resolve to reduce the amount of food my family wastes,” she says. “We will take our compostable food scraps to our city’s collection site, I will take inventory of what is in our fridge before planning our meals for the week, and I will put an ‘Eat Me’ bin in our fridge for things that should be used soon.”
Don’t miss this definitive guide on how often you should clean everything.
“I Will Go Through All My Holiday Decorations”
Decorating for all the different holidays can be fun and festive, but storing things you only use for a few weeks out of the year can be a pain. That’s why Friel decided 2021 is the year to pare down her decor.
“I will give a thorough weed-out to the boxes I have for each holiday and cut them in half,” she says. “As I pull out the boxes filled with decorations, I will eliminate all but the most important and very special keepsakes and artwork.”
For whatever makes the cut, don’t miss these nine clever ways to store those holiday decorations.
“I’m Going To Do a Month-Long Organizing Challenge”
What better way to start the new year than with a clean, clutter-free home? “I am going to kick-start 2021 by doing a whole-house decluttering session,” says Elsa Elbert, owner of Composed Living. “I’ll use my 30 Days to Clutter-Free Living guide, which provides one easy-to-accomplish task each day, for 30 days.”