Many of us could not wait to close the door on 2020 and usher in the new year– and all the positive karma we hope comes with it! As you look forward to 2021 you may have spent some time thinking about your intentions for the coming year, whether for personal or professional growth, health and fitness, or family goals. Let’s face it, 2020 was stressful, and while many people look to each new year to freshen up their lives, this year more than ever people are looking inward to reexamine what is important to them. But one thing that is just as important as setting intentions for your behaviors or habits is creating a peaceful and joyful place in which to practice your intentions.

If you, like most Americans, spent a record amount of time inside your home last year due to the pandemic, you may have accumulated more stuff than you have in previous years. Many people acquired new hobbies to pass the time at home, started – and maybe even finished – home improvement projects, or simply went a little overboard with boredom-induced online shopping. If this sounds familiar, it may be time for a decluttering session.

Living with too much stuff can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. People with too much clutter in their environment also tend to suffer from relationship issues, sleep problems, and chronic allergies or asthma. 

So, before you pack a suitcase and hop on a flight for that vacation that got cancelled last year, take some time to clean out your home for the new year. Here are a few strategies recommended by professional organizers.

1. One category at a time: This method is used by Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She advocates for decluttering items by category: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items, in that order. 

2. One room at a time: Another method is to focus on one area at a time. It could be a room, the garage, or the attic. If that amount of space is still overwhelming to you, break it down to one closet, one cabinet, or one drawer at a time. 

3. Arrange keep, sell, and donate spaces. As you progress through your decluttering, it will save time and energy if you have already designated areas to accumulate items that are to be kept, sold, or donated. Then you can deal with each group of items once you have everything separated.

Once you have cleaned out your home, you might adopt some of these habits for preventing clutter from piling up again:

1. Set a rule where you don’t purchase a new piece of clothing, toy, book, or gadget without getting rid of something you are no longer using.

2. Get into the habit of always putting everything back in its place. This will keep you from purchasing items you already have but can’t find or forgot about.

3. To prevent clothes from piling up, try choosing your outfits for the coming week every Sunday, and don’t let clean laundry sit unfolded.

4. Look through your refrigerator and pantry before shopping and shop with a list of needed items.

5. Live by the rule that if you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, chances are you don’t need it.

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