By Susan Caplan McCarthy
Happy New Year! And welcome to the Year of Decluttering – 2019. If you participated last year, you would have received daily emails that included a ‘task of the day,’ a small, focused task that would have taken approximately 15-minutes to complete. This year will be different from last year in that there will be two emails a week, one or both that will be focused on the theme for that month.
You can look at A Year of Decluttering 2019 as a follow-along program or as a series of articles that you pick and choose what topics you want to work with. Below you’ll see that this isn’t a program that assigns cleaning certain rooms in your house during certain months of the year.
Why not? I think it’s too easy to pick up an item and think that you should hold onto it ‘just in case,’ but, because you want to complete the assignment for the month and declutter the bedroom or family room, you move the items in question to other rooms where you’ll have to deal with them again when they surfaces later. Instead of limiting yourself to a single room, you’ll focus on different categories of items, which will make it likelier that you’ll address your possessions when and where you find them.
Also, this method allows you to declutter even if other members of your family aren’t inclined to declutter with you. I’ll address this topic more throughout the year.
January – Everyday Actions
I know, you want to start filling those trash bags and scheduling donation pick-ups but getting a handle on some of the everyday actions that lead to clutter means that your decluttering efforts won’t disappear in the chaos of day-to-day life.
Another thing that helps you stay focused while decluttering is knowing why you want to declutter. If you weren’t dealing with clutter, what would your home and life look like? What have you put on hold until you’ve decluttered your home? Download the free booklet, Clarify Why You Want to Declutter, to gain insight into the personal goals that will help motivate you.
February – Decluttering as Self-Care
This month is about the stuff you use all the time – clothing, shoes, jewelry; grooming and beauty supplies, makeup; your handbag, wallet, tote bags, etc. The things you touch every day can be a source of stress if items are in poor condition or if you just have too much stuff. Decluttering and organizing personal items allow you to take care of yourself so that you have the energy for other decluttering projects.
March – Jump into Spring Cleaning
Learn the decluttering technique that can make a big change throughout your house and yet takes no more than 15-minutes a day. I’ll also cover how to declutter with your kids or grandkids, your parents, and your reluctant significant other.
April – Paper Decluttering
Sorting through paper has unique challenges. One, you probably have more paper than you think – the average cardboard banker’s box can hold 2500 (or more) sheets of paper! You may have thought that you were being organized by storing your papers by the year in boxes; however, just like other items, if you don’t need it, then you have organized clutter!
May – Get Ready for Summer
Spend time outdoors decluttering yard and garden ornaments and outdoor entertaining spaces like porches, patios, and decks. Get the kids or grandkids involved in sorting through outdoor toys. Since some of your summer stuff may get stored in the garage or in sheds, I’ll discuss decluttering and organizing these spaces now that you’ve pulled out the stuff you’ll be using for the season.
June – Digital Declutter
I know June is a busy month with end-of-the-school-year activities for parents and grandparents, weddings, graduations, and activities segueing you into summer. I decided to focus on digital decluttering for this month because, chances are, you have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with you most of the time, which gives you opportunities to fit in digital decluttering even if you just have a couple of minutes.
July – Small Spaces
Yes, you have better things to do during the summer than get involved in a big decluttering project; so, this month is about small spaces like the medicine cabinet, coffee table, car, under the bed, kitchen counters, and other small spaces that are projects unto themselves. Most of these projects can be started and finished in 15-to-30-minutes.
August – Organizing Tricks from the Classroom
Think about it, kids greatly outnumber the adults in the classroom and yet the teacher doesn’t spend her day cleaning up after her students. Why? They set up organizing routines and systems that are easy to follow. You don’t need to have kids to take advantage of these organizing tricks.
September – Storage Spaces
If you have a lot of storage spaces – a garage, attic, basement, spare rooms, and outbuildings – then you may have to decide where to best focus your efforts this month instead of trying to do everything and getting nothing done. Storage spaces seem to demand a whole-weekend-or-don’t-bother approach, but I’ll cover ways you can tackle these spaces without devoting all your free time to the task.
October – Photos
Photos are challenging because they fall in with sentimental items and memorabilia. However, not all photos are of equal quality and if you hold onto every photo then it’s more difficult to appreciate the best ones. This month will cover the photos we display on walls and shelves, photo albums, old print photos, and digital photo storage. Note: If you encounter print photos while working through other tasks this year, gather them into a box(es) or bin(s) and set them aside for this month.
November – People, Parties, and the Holidays
While nature in the northern hemisphere is slowing down for a long winter’s nap, it seems life gets busier for us. We’re either entertaining or planning on being a guest (or, trying to turn down offers in a polite way), traveling, decorating for winter holidays, and shopping (or trying to explain that finances are fine, thank you, but you’d rather opt-out of quite so many gift giving/receiving events).
December – Here and There
This month’s 10-to-15-minute a day tasks turn your focus to surfaces – walls as well as floors and other flat surfaces that can, too easily, become the accidental new home for things that don’t get put away. These are areas where one out-of-place item invites clutter. And, sometimes, even intentionally placed items can become a visual distraction that call out to be curated or minimalized.
The articles on all the topics related to A Year of Decluttering – 2019 are part of the regular postings I make on A Less Cluttered Life. You can join any time during the year and find the articles archived on my website. As an organizing and productivity coach, I use my 25+ years of teaching experience to guide individuals through creating an organized life. Sign up for emails to get these articles sent to your inbox twice a week … and get last year’s program as a free pdf eBook.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I help people focus on what's important to them by guiding them through clearing clutter and distractions from their lives. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; courses; speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.