woman holding bins full of clothing (decluttering methods to try for the new year)

As much as the holidays are enjoyable, I’m relieved when they’re over. I often use the post-holiday crash as a time for decluttering and organizing. It makes me excited for the new year and for repurposing unused items that are taking up much-needed space in my house. If you’re ready for a fresh start, now’s the time to try a new method for clearing the clutter and organizing your space. Here are a few worth trying!

Clear your clutter with feng shui

When I was first starting out in my career years ago, someone recommended this book to me — and it has had a profound effect on my life. Originally published more than 20 years ago, before clutter-clearing was trendy, this easy-to-read book explains how clutter negatively affects your home and your personal energy, according to feng shui principles. Learn an easy system for ridding your home of clutter (even when it’s someone else’s!). I truly believe physical clutter creates mental clutter.

Swedish death cleaning

The name might sound a bit harsh, but once you understand the concept, it’s actually quite simple. It’s based on a book where the author explains how she had to deal with the death of her parents and husband — including what to do with all their stuff. She was so overburdened, she vowed she wouldn’t let her own kids experience what she did. The basic premise is to start decluttering slowly throughout the course of your life so that years of your own accumulated possessions are not a burden for the next generation. This method will leave you with a sense of peace and lightness.

Room-by-room decluttering

This method is simple and is just as its name implies — pick one room to start organizing, and you’ll find it’s not as overwhelming to take it space by space! The bathroom is actually a great place to start since it’s most likely the smallest room in your house. Starting with one room at a time makes decluttering your entire house more achievable. Tackle one room one day, then pick another weekend to start on another room. Save the biggest room or garage (if you have one) for last.

The four-box method

This decluttering method is simple as well — start with four large boxes, and label them as follows: KEEP/PUT AWAY, DONATE/SELL, STORAGE, and TRASH. Use the first box for items that have been laying around the house waiting for you to put them in their proper place. In box two, add anything you find that should be sold or donated — try Facebook Marketplace, a local Facebook yard sale group, or your local donation drop off. Use box three for any items you don’t need right now but might want later — these can be stored out of site. And in box four, place any items that need to leave your house but can’t be donated or sold!

The 20-minute method

For a super-busy mom, the thought of decluttering an entire room can be daunting. But most of us can spare 20 minutes for a small sense of accomplishment — and there’s a lot you can get rid of (or put away) in just 20 minutes! Get your kids involved as well. They can have assignments to put items away, maybe even making a contest out of it — “Let’s see who can put the most things away in 20 minutes! Yay!” This method allows you to use small amounts of time when you just can’t devote an entire day or weekend to decluttering.  

Box-and-banish method

How often do we keep things “just in case” we might need them in the next week/month/year? This method helps you clear out items you think you might need but, in reality, don’t. It’s simple: Start with a box or two, and as you come across things you question whether you really need or like, toss them in the box. Place the box out of sight — under a bed or in a basement, for example. Decide on an amount of time you will store the box — maybe a month, maybe six months. After that time, if you haven’t been looking for anything in that box, out it goes! Donate, sell, or give to someone else. Just get it out of your house!

No matter what method you use to declutter, you will feel lighter and more at peace. When the physical clutter leaves your home, the mental clutter does as well!


Cheryl Mastrogiovanni
Cheryl is a native of Salem, MA, and now resides in Arlington with her husband and son. A graduate of Boston College, she has been a high school counselor for over 20 years and enjoys helping seniors navigate the college application process. A lifelong Boston Bruins fan, Cheryl began attending hockey games with her father in the original Boston Garden at the age of 8, a tradition she is now sharing with her son. Cheryl published a children’s picture book about the Bruins, and is also passionate about soccer, Cape Cod, all things Italian, and spending time with her family. As much as she loves to travel, she equally loves coming home. Loves: playing soccer on the weekends, GOOD pizza, hot summer nights, '80s music, sneakers, and being organized Dislikes: long meetings, loud noises, messiness


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