Published on 12/29/16

Ring in the new year with a less cluttered, more organized home

By Keishon Thomas

Who doesn’t love to be organized? In a perfect world, we would all have immaculate, Pinterest-inspired homes where everything has a place and a label, and fits seamlessly into a seamless design. Reality is a little different. My home is inundated with enormous piles of “stuff” – you know, toys, clothes, home décor and cards. I could go on and on! January signals the beginning of a new year and provides a natural opportunity to accomplish several crucial organizational tasks.  

It’s a good idea to sort through your kitchen cabinets once or twice a year, and what better time than around New Year’s Day? Purge food storage containers that are no longer used. Do you really need 15 coffee mugs? Are you ever going to eat that can of beets? Clean out and discard a few plastic kid’s cups. Designate one cup for each child. Limit yourself to one set of eight or 12 dishes. Go through the pantry and discard any expired seasonings and canned goods.    

Change that piling system to a filing system. It’s time to tackle those stacks of paper! Sort through those stacks of bills, notices and bank statements, and make two piles: to keep and to shred. Take advantage of the free paper-shredding services offered by office supply stores. For the “to keep” pile, go through your filing cabinet and make sure your folders make sense. Consolidate and eliminate folders where you can, then file away the papers you should keep. You can also opt for a paperless filing system. In this kind of a system, you can scan the documents you want to keep and organize them on your computer in folders. Be sure to back those digital files up on a USB flash drive or external hard drive. Tax time is no fun if you’ve lost all of the year’s paperwork.

Tackle your closets, too. If it’s a struggle to find anything in your closet or to close the door, it might be time to take inventory. Pull every item of clothing, shoe and accessory out of your closet and – you guessed it – make a few piles. I create three piles: keep, donate and return. Yes, I admit that I have items with tags that should be returned. A good rule of thumb for sorting through clothes: If you haven’t worn something in over a year, it’s most likely safe to donate it.

For those with limited space, make a “store” pile for out-of-season clothes. Box up these items and store them in the attic or other extra space to free up room for the clothes you wear now.

Like your kitchen cabinet, it’s a good idea to sort through the medicine cabinet once a year. Go through and check the expiration dates. Set aside anything that’s expired. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disposal. Keep in mind that local sheriff’s offices typically accept prescriptions for disposal.  Now that you have your medicines narrowed down to just what you want to keep, put things back thoughtfully. Put prescriptions together according to whom they belong to, and organize things like cold and headache medicines so they’re easy to find when you need them.

For more tips on managing your household, see the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension publications at

Keishon Thomas is the University of Georgia Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Bibb County.

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