Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Purging before the New Year

The New Year means a clean slate to me; a chance to create memories for the upcoming year; a fresh start and room to breathe and be. It is a chance to let go of all the baggage and 'stuff' we've been carrying around that we no longer need.

And of course, the New Year comes directly after a month of receiving new gifts and pulling out once-a-year items for limited use. Now, I don't want to start cleaning the slate on New Year's Day. I want it already clean, organized and ready to go when we let go of the old year and welcome in the new one.

Which means... the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is when I make the time for cleaning, organization, repairing, donating and purging. Impossible, during the holidays? I say no, if you break it down into smaller tasks and do a "clean as you go" sort of approach.

Some tips:
  • Make a list of goals to accomplish. Be clear. Be realistic. Estimate the supplies needed and the amount of time it should take. Schedule them as you can. Also, make sure to schedule relaxation time to counter all this uberproductivity.
  • I use Remember The Milk to schedule in bursts of cleaning/purging amidst all the holiday stuff, even if it is 7 consecutive days of 60 minute cleaning sessions out in the garage. RTM also has handy apps to track your tasks and to-do lists on the go. I'd rather do small projects for 45-60 minutes each day for a few weeks than to set aside a week of hard core cleaning at the end.
  • Got a spare evening while you are watching holiday movies? Pull out your makeup bags and sort through it. Purge anything outdated or expired. Then set up an automatic calendar reminder to do it again in 6 months.
  • Pinterest is a good resource for cute, DIY organization ideas.
  • Now is a good time to donate anything from toys to coats to food to used furniture. If you aren't using it, haven't used it in the last two years and you know it is still good and serviceable, consider calling a local charity to donate. Save your receipt if you need it for filing taxes.
  • If you have clothing or items set aside for repair.... now is the time to either get them repaired or call it quits. *Especially* if they've been out of commission longer than 6 months.
  • Check when your local trash service picks up bulk items, and schedule accordingly.
  • If I bring gifts for others into the home, I mark them off my gift list, store the receipts, wrap as soon as possible and get them to their owners if they are being mailed out and gifted. There is no need for them to sit in the house any longer than necessary. 
  • In the same spirit- make room for new gifts and put them away in their designated space. If you need to make room on a bookshelf for new books, find a few you will not read again and take them to a half price bookstore or donate them (or give to a friend who you think will enjoy them). If you receive new clothes, check to see if there's any existing clothes in your closet you no longer wear or have outgrown to make the room for the new items.
  • Purge through holiday ornaments/trinkets/knick knacks as you pull them out to decorate. Check them over for any damage to be repaired or assessed for purging. Get rid of any items you don't like/don't want/don't use... even if you are holding onto it for sentimental reasons, ask yourself how important it is to you in the long run, given the current condition it is in. Only you can make that call, but it's common for people to hang on to "stuff" they'll never use out of sheer habit alone.
  • Label your storage boxes for holiday gear. Take the time to wrap up the ornaments and knickknacks when you are done, and wind the lights with care. I tend to stock up on new wrapping paper, gift boxes/labels/ribbons, decor, cards and ornaments on Dec. 26th when they are on clearance, and will list everything out on the label when packing up seasonal items. I also tuck new scotch tape and extra scissors in with all of the wrapping gear so I don't have to scrounge around looking for it next year. 
  • I try to have the decorations down and in their place by New Year's Eve- the first weekend of January if absolutely necessary. Once I'm done with the holiday, I'm ready to move on.
  • When you receive greeting cards, verify the address to make sure you have the most recent location in your records. Track who you receive cards from, and who you are mailing ones to.
  • If you need to, farm out the heavier cleaning or tasks. If you only splurge once a year on a cleaning service, this may be your time to do so without guilt. The holidays can be the most stressful times of year, particularly with guests and additional entertaining and it may be worth it to remove extra stress. Look for local groupons for discounts, or ask friends for recommendations for cleaning services. Decide if you want to handle the basic cleaning, and ask them to do the heavier once-or-twice a year chores, or if you want them to come in and handle everything for you.
  • I try to air out the house as best as possible when I'm doing that end of year cleaning.. that will depend on your climate but if it's possible to do so, I find it helps.
Good luck!

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