Organize + Energize: 4 Areas to Declutter in December
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Fridge/Freezer. This area was on last month’s list, but Thanksgiving has passed and now onto December’s holidays. Open the fridge and take a peak in and see what’s still hanging around since Thanksgiving. By now you know the drill. Take everything out of the fridge/freezer. Toss anything that you can’t recognize. Toss anything that when you smell it, it turns your stomach. Let it all go. Categorize and itemize as you take items out and then give the fridge/freezer a good cleaning. Place everything back in organized. You’ll be able to maximize space this holiday! Put this item on your to-do list again for the first of the year.
Holiday Decorations. This is the perfect time of year to go through all of your holiday decorations. Toss anything that’s broken and donate or get rid of anything you know you’re no longer going to use. Test all of the lights and throw away any that don’t work. Once the holidays are over, categorize the decorations in labeled bins. You’ll be organized and ready for next year.
Out with the Old. I’m giving you a wild card on this one. Go around the house and choose anything that you’d like to get rid of and don’t hold back! Let me know what you choose and how it felt once you decided to let it go!
Old Tax Returns. If you have old tax returns hanging around, it’s time to shred them. How long should you keep them? I took this information right off of the https://www.irs.gov website. I would refer to the website if you still have questions.
Period of Limitations that apply to income tax returns.
1. Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
2. Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
3. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
4. Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
5. Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.
6. Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.
7. Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
Stay tuned for next week’s column where I’ll recap all of the areas that I talked about decluttering this year. If you weren’t able to tackle any of the areas this year, you can use it as a checklist for next year!
Related Slideshow: 10 Areas You Find Most Challenging to Get Organized
Paper in any form
This was the most challenging space! 91% of people surveyed stated paper was their biggest headache. Just because we are in this digital age, people think paper is going to disappear. As long as we have mail, and paper at work, kid’s school papers, etc., paper is going to be around for a very long time. We need to develop systems to organize and maintain our paper clutter.
To stay on top of an organized closet, you should be emptying your closet twice a year. Switch your closets in the spring and fall. This will force you to take inventory of the contents of the closet. You’ll never know what’s hiding in the back corners of your closet unless you take everything out.
When was the last time you emptied your entire food closet down to bare shelves? I asked this question at my last presentation and not one person could remember. Some said the last time their food pantry was empty was when they first moved in and others stated it had been years. Have garbage bags on hand. In every kitchen I organize, we throw out at least three garbage bags of expired food.
This is the black hole of the house. If an item doesn’t have a home, it usually gets thrown in the basement on a shelf. You’ll walk into the basement one day and wonder how did it get so bad? The first thing you need to do in the basement is declutter, then categorize items and then decide how you want to function going forward. Measure your space and choose shelving units that will fit what you need to hold. Block off 3 hours and don’t leave the basement during that time. Staying in the room will keep you focused.
The garage is an area similar to the basement. The garage tends to be a drop spot for outdoor items and usually there isn’t any organization. Most tend to regret not organizing the garage when they find they can’t park their cars in the garage in the winter months when it’s snowing. Put this project on your to-do list this fall.
Office at work
Most will say they don’t have time to tackle this area, but think about the time you are wasting by not being organized. The office can be challenging for some because you have paper, closet space, desk space and bookshelves. Most get overwhelmed and stressed just thinking about tackling this space. They think it’s easier to function this way than to actually tackle the project.
If your kids are over the age of 6, incorporate them in this process. If you don’t have the skill set to help them get organized, call in a professional to work one-on-one with them. If your kids are craving structure, it’s time for them to get organized.
Another one of those black holes like the basement. You rarely venture into the attic and you continue to toss items in there that don’t have a home. The garage, basement and attic are really challenging areas because you don’t spend much time in them. Think about how you want to function in these spaces. Streamline and maximize this space. This room should have a purpose.
When items are just thrown into this closet without being contained, chaos will ensue. Empty the entire closet, categorize, itemize and then measure the space. Purchase containers to match the space and what you have to hold. It’s all about maximizing space in this closet and being able to put your hand on something without moving five other items out of the way.
This is a tough project even for people who are organized. Memorabilia items and photos are a challenge because as you go through them, you tend to reminisce. Save this for the last project on your list of areas to organize. Once you begin, just focus on tossing and keeping and then reminisce when the decluttering process is completed.
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