This week, the winter season officially begins. For most of us around the country, and particularly in the Midwest, this means snowy, cold days spent inside our homes. Additionally, over the next few weeks, you and your family may have time off from school and work. Take advantage of this time off and time indoors to tackle one or more of these home organizing projects. And, if you only tackle one, don’t fret, there is likely to be a snow day in the New Year and you can save this list and have a very organized snow day!

Donate Clothing, Old Electronics, and Other Miscellaneous Items

This is absolutely the best time of year to donate, donate, and donate! Make sure you donate items prior to December 31, so you can write off your donation on your taxes next year. Take 30-60 minutes and walk each room in your home. Use large garbage bags to gather up clothing that is too small or you no longer like, electronics that aren’t getting used, books that have been read, etc. You’ll likely find more than you expected. Scheduling a donation pick up or having an intentional day to drop off is a great way to declutter your home, especially after the influx of holiday gifts. If you aren’t sure where or how to donate certain items, go to www.donationtown.org or www.freecycle.org.

Organize Your 2019 Calendar

Sitting down at the beginning of the year and taking a look at a blank, fresh calendar opens up so many possibilities and opportunities. Ask yourself, what goals did I set up to accomplish last year? Did I complete them? What goals do I want to add this year? Give yourself a few “check in” points during the year to reflect on the status of your 2019 goals so you have time to readjust and hit those targets by the end of the year. Do you struggle with time management? If so, know that having clear professional and personal goals should help you fine tune your priorities and commitments. This translates to saying yes to activities that align with your goals and therefore obtaining your goals.

Pro Tip:

At the beginning of the year, add special events, birthdays, weddings, and vacations into your 2019 calendar. Use the attached greeting card template to create a list of birthdays and events that you intend to send greetings. Bring this template to your favorite card store and buy in bulk. This way, you’ll never forget to send a card because they will always be on hand!

Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

It’s easy for this small space to become cluttered! Take everything out of the cabinet and sort into categories. Responsibly purge expired medication by bringing it to your local police station, calling your local village, or you can check out more information at www.earth911.com. After sorting and purging, contain the remaining items in the cabinet by creating zones of similar items. Using small shelf risers and small containers can help maximize the small space.

Pro Tip:

Organize daily medication by morning and event.   Store less frequently used medication in another area, such as a linen closet, in labeled containers/bins.

Organize Your Pantry/Spice Rack

Winter is the time of year that we cook hardy meals of stew and chili! Additionally, you may have set a new year’s resolution to be more mindful of what you eat. Perhaps this means you will be cooking more frequently. One way to make cooking more enjoyable is by creating an organized pantry and spice rack. Having ingredients in a handy, accessible location allows us to create meals efficiently and not waste money on food that is not consumed. Organizing your pantry will likely take more time than some of the previous projects, but it’s definitely a gift to yourself that will keep on giving throughout the year. As always, start with taking everything out of the space, sorting into categories, and purging expired items. Contain similar food together in zones in labeled baskets/bins.

Pro Tip:

Decant dry food, such as baking ingredients, pasta, and cereal, into storage containers. You will easily be able to see when you are running low and need to buy more and reducing the excessive packaging will save you space too!

Create an Emergency Car Kit

You definitely don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road in bad weather without an emergency car kit. If you have teenage drivers, imagine the peace of mind that will come knowing that you stocked the car with emergency essentials. Here is a list to get you started when packing a kit: ice scraper, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, kitty liter, flares, jumper cables, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Most importantly, if you have a roadside assistance plan through your insurance or AAA, make sure each car is equipped with up to date policy paperwork so a call can be placed immediately.

Organize computer passwords, paperwork for tax season

Once January rolls around, tax season is not too far behind! This can be a stressful, overwhelming time for some people as they gather up crucial tax documents in preparation of filing taxes. If this describes you, make it a point this year to keep your financial paperwork in an organized system so that tax filing next year is a breeze. It’s important to decide if you are saving documents electronically versus in paper form. Creating an organized system means having appropriate organizing products, deciding on categories for files, creating a name convention when storing documents, and filing and purging often.

Pro Tip:

Computer passwords can drive us all crazy! Resolve to create a master file of all your passwords or begin using a password manager.

There you have it…six easy ideas to get you organized this winter. Some of these ideas can be implemented before 2018 ends so get going! The other ideas are geared towards starting 2019 off on the right foot! Either way, remember that being organized is a journey, not a destination, and we wish you a joyful and organized journey this winter and into the New Year!

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