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Ring in the new year and a fresh start with an organized house

Jan. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

A new year is here and it's time to turn your attention to the new year, your goals, purposes and commitments. Since your environment absolutely influences your ability to stick to those goals and dreams, your first order of business should be to get your home and office organized before the end of the year.

Although it may seem like a daunting task, getting organized can actually be a relaxing and invigorating series of activities. In fact, it's probably just the thing to help you regroup and get "back to normal" after the hectic Christmas holiday. To inspire you to action, we've compiled some helpful tips.

1. Set a date to put away the seasonal decor

Holiday lights, candles, pillows and other decorative items are wonderful provided they don't stay out well past the season. Before the week is out, set a date for taking down and putting away all of your decorative holiday items. Make it an appointment and feel free to "invite" relevant family members to attend! The more hands you have on deck to take things down, the faster it will be done.

2. Tackle the paper piles

Holiday cards, children's artwork, notices, invitations, catalogs - one thing is for certain: paper is in abundance at this time of year. Piles of it here and there quickly add up to a big visual mess. A great way to get momentum working for you in your big end-of-year detox is to zero in on all of your paper piles and whittle them to zero.

3. Next Up: Small rooms

Focus on one small section of your home at a time. If you know you aren't going to use an item within a certain time frame, place it in the "give away" pile. Each time you finish with a micro space, take a step back, admire your handiwork and celebrate your progress.

4. Set an egg timer for 15 minutes and watch a miracle unfold in your closet

You do not need a long time to transform your closet. We always cringe a bit when we see how-to videos that make cleaning out a closet seem like a six-hour ordeal. It doesn't have to be. Rather than taking the entire contents out and dumping them on your bed and putting each thing back in one-by-one, start by doing the opposite. Look for dry cleaning bags, orphan hangers and the clothes you no longer wear and take them out. Then pick up the items on the floor and either drop them in the hamper, send them to the dry cleaner or, if they no longer fit or are useful, donate them.

In this video -- http://bit.ly/TuDXO -- you can see how to transform a closet in 15 minutes.

5. Use boxes to help you as you organize

Don't just sort piles into more piles. Organize items into boxes. Label the box for donated items, the names of other rooms and for trash. File items into the boxes appropriately.

6. Work in one direction

Organization takes a systematic approach, especially if you only have a set amount of time to work. So start at the entrance and work along a certain side of the room until you get to the opposite corner, then work the next side.

7. Finish up each session

When you don't take out the trash, and put up your boxes after each organizing session, you'll feel like you are continually working and getting nowhere in your effort. So take the boxes that go in other rooms to those places, set the donation box in a storage or garage area and throw out the trash.

8. Designate clear zones

When you've cleared an area, make sure you don't add clutter to it again. If you have to bring a box in, then immediately organize it. Tell family members that these are areas that can't be disorganized or cluttered again.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com.