Your taxes are done and on their way to the IRS, but there are still piles of forms and documents used in the process all over your desk. You vow—as you do every year—that next year you’ll be more organized, to make both the tax preparation and the clean-up easier. But where to start to make that actually happen?
Benefits of Decluttering and Organizing
Chances are that if your tax-related paperwork isn’t organized, there are other areas of you home that could use some attention, too. There are at least 2 big benefits to keeping all of your living and working areas organized and clutter-free.
- Peace of mind: When everything is finally in an accessible yet out-of-the-way space, we feel less stress. We’re calmer, have clearer minds and more positive energy. We feel healthier and happier living in a beautiful, uncluttered space.
- Profit: Besides improving the way we feel, de-cluttering can actually be profitable.
- There are lots of ways to sell the things you’ve decided you don’t really need, either online or at a yard sale. Someone else probably needs or wants what you have.
- If you donate usable clothing or household items to a charity, get a receipt and attach a detailed list of what was donated. Enter your items into an app like TurboTax – It’s Deductible. It will estimate the value of your items, add up the total and enter it on your tax forms. When tax-related documents or receipts come into your hands, immediately file them or scan them into your computer. When you do your taxes next year, everything you need will all be in one place, which and could result in a higher refund received sooner.
- If you’re keeping on top of clutter, you are developing a habit that will come in handy when you are ready to sell your home and move. You will get more for your decluttered house, and because you’ve gotten rid of so many things, you will pay less for your move.
The universal key is to first tackle the clutter and then adopt best practices to keep it from accumulating again. There are lots of so-called decluttering and organizing experts. You can find many, many books on the subject. There are also people trying to sell you the “perfect storage solutions to organize stuff that you keep. However, there are a few basics everyone can apply that have wide-spread acceptance and proof of value.
Methods to Declutter Your House and Keep It that Way:
Start small. Pick a small space, cabinet or drawer. Set a timer for 30 minutes and work on just that space. Once you get started, you might want to keep going, but don’t stop until the time for that day is up.
To help with whatever space you are tackling, keep 3 boxes close by: one for things you want to keep, one for things you want to sell or donate and one for things you are going to bravely throw away. Unless it’s already where you want it to be, assign each item to a box.
Here are some tips to help you make those difficult decisions:
- Take a photo. You can keep the memory of the item without keeping the item, itself.
- Think “Would I replace this item if my house burned down?”
- Ask yourself
- What’s the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?
- Could I rent, buy or borrow this item if I need it in the future?
- Is the storage space taken up by this item really worth it?
- Stay in one room; put out-of-place stuff in a container and move it to its place when you are done for the day.
- Digitize your piles of paper. When you get something new you want to save, scan it and save it on your computer.
No-brainer things to get rid of: Expired makeup & medicine, 3-year-old spices, old magazines (they’re online), duplicate kitchen tools, manuals for appliances (also online), orphan sox or earrings, old technology and cords, clothes you haven’t worn in more than a year, more than 3 decorative pillows on your bed or couch, storage containers with no lids.
How to Stay Organized:
- Keep the “one in, one out” promise. When you buy something new, get rid of the old one.
- Don’t wait to put things away; make the choice to keep it or trash it; then file or put it in its place NOW.
- Make a habit of a tidy-up time every day.
- Schedule a big de-clutter at least twice a year.
- Group similar items into separate cubbies or shelves: cleaning products, toys, books. DVDs, etc.
- Buy a label maker; label drawers and cupboards with what’s in them.
- Do most of your meal prep for the week on one day.
It Just Looks Better If you….
- Decorate minimally with objects that are beautiful, meaningful & necessary.
- Keep surfaces clear. Have a specific place to put stuff that usually accumulates there; don’t use your desk top for storage.
- Unclutter the front of your fridge.
- Use baskets for essential clutter like toys, boots and gloves.
- Use under-the-bed storage.
- Use vertical spaces for storage by attaching hooks, shelving and racks to walls and doors.
- Hang a metal fruit basket on a shower curtain rod to hold bath toys.
- We’re sure you can think of lots more ideas, or find them on Pinterest!
If you can’t make yourself do it or you just don’t have the time, it might be worth it to hire someone who will come to your home do it for you. Lots of people wouldn’t have it any other way. Either way, everyone agrees that being organized and clutter-free is a huge life-improvement.