Decluttering tips for the new year

How to head into the new year feeling fresh.
Published November 25, 2020 | Updated November 30, 2022

One of the ways we can enter the new year feeling fresh and with a clean slate is to declutter our homes.

Some people may love this – if cleaning and organizing are your ideas of fun or calm – and some may hate it, especially if dealing with clutter makes you anxious. So we’ve rounded up some tips for success, so that you can clear your space without being overwhelmed, and head into the new year feeling good.

“There are many benefits to decluttering your home,” says professional organizer and productivity consultant at The Order Expert Rashelle Isip.

Decluttering makes it easier to physically clean your home, since you don’t have to spend your time navigating around clutter, she says, and having less clutter also means fewer visual distractions.

“I’ve had clients tell me they feel lighter, refreshed, more relaxed and calmer after we declutter their living space.”

And now is the perfect time to get into the habit of decluttering on a regular basis, she says.

“We’re all spending more time at home because of the pandemic and it only makes sense to make our living spaces as comfortable as possible. Decluttering is an easy way for people to freshen up their homes, give themselves a clean slate and make room for the future.”

Isip shares her top three tips for successful decluttering:

Declutter with your future self in mind: “Yes, you’re decluttering for yourself in the present moment, but you’re also making room for your future self,” Isip says. “Ask yourself if the items you’re decluttering will truly help or hinder you from reaching your future goals. Being honest with yourself will go a long way when it comes to decluttering your home.”

Understand being organized is an ongoing process: “It’s about creating and following small daily habits to maintain order in your living space,” Isip says. “Some examples include putting items back where they belong when you’re finished using them or taking a few minutes to tidy up a messy room.”

Approach decluttering and organizing with a positive mindset: “There’s no need to live in the past or feel badly about past organization attempts. What’s most important is to realize you are addressing and taking care of items right now. Think about all the great things that will come from organizing your space, and what you’ll be able to accomplish when your work is finished.”

If you want to take it slow, life stylist Cori Ingrassia suggests filling a bag of things to get rid of every week.

“If you aren’t sure about some of the things you want to purge, I recommend putting those bags aside until January. If you find you never missed or looked for those items, they’re good to toss!”

And if you want to incorporate quick, proactive decluttering tips into your life, professional organizer coach Sav Susnow has three suggestions:

  • One in, one out: “This is my go-to rule that makes decluttering more tangible,” she says. If you get rid of something every time you bring a new thing into the home, you’ll prevent clutter from building up.
  • Find a home: Pick a time during your day when there shouldn’t be anything on the floor and do a quick clean-up. “If something doesn’t ‘have a home’, it either needs to get one, or it’s time to let it go,” says Susnow. “If it has a home, put it there in the moment.”
  • Set a timer: “This is my favourite strategy because it reminds me of being in the classroom (as a former teacher),” she says. “Using a timer is such a motivator for folks. It doesn’t matter how much time you have, one minute or an hour. Set the timer and DO NOT STOP, go through a specified area and let go of what doesn’t serve you.”