The beginning of a new year always feels revitalising, at least for a few days. But if there are bags, boxes, and papers from the past year still hanging around your house, the new year can feel a little less like a fresh start.
If you've vowed to declutter and organise in 2015, now is the time to begin.
Don't get bogged down in trying to decide which room or space should be your first priority; just pick a spot - even a small spot - and get to work. It's better to start the new year with easy solutions than with empty resolutions.
So here are a few project ideas that involve relatively little time and effort but are sure to leave you feeling both satisfied and motivated to do more.
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Return unwanted gifts
Returning gifts is not fun - in fact, it's kind of depressing. But if you've been ruminating about whether you like or need something you received, chances are you don't. Stop trying to convince yourself. Return it to the store before the end of January.
Clean out your pantry
The holidays can leave your pantry in total disarray, especially if you were hosting a large group. The best way to restore order is to remove everything, wipe off the shelves, toss expired items and then begin restocking. Categorise and sort items. Nuts, rice, noodles, dried fruit and other things that come in upright sealable plastic bags can be held together in long rectangular containers. Snacks for kids and lunchbox items should also be grouped together and put in bins to make them easy to find.
Scale down sports clothes
Most people who exercise grab the same two or three items for each workout, and all the other colorful but ill-fitting stuff they either bought on a whim or received as swag at a fundraising event goes unused. Take an inventory of your tights, tank tops, sweatshirts, T-shirts and shoes. If they're threadbare, toss them; if you haven't worn them in the past few months, donate.
Tidy up underneath the kitchen sink or bathroom vanity
This is not a huge job, but it can be daunting. Not only are you not going to find anything fun in there, you're also probably going to have to deal with a bunch of half-empty bottles filled with hazardous cleaning materials that you aren't sure how to dispose of. But getting rid of many of those items properly isn't that hard. Check you local government listings for recycling information.
Delve into a couple of mystery boxes
Take three or four bins or boxes out of your basement, attic or garage and assess whether you still need or want the items inside. This is not as scary as it sounds. Usually people avoid looking at the contents of stored boxes because they don't want to be faced with the tough decision of what to keep. But most of the time, the answer is immediately apparent. Your textbooks from the 1990s are no longer necessary. Letters from your grandparents are okay to keep. Cassette tapes can be recycled. The ski jacket you haven't worn in a decade can be donated. When you've determined what you're keeping, take a moment to label the box correctly. As for the discards, try to get them out of the house within the week.