If you haven’t done any decluttering recently, there’s no better time like the present—we’re just two weeks into 2020, and there’s something symbolic and encouraging about cultivating the habit of being tidy and organised from the beginning of the year and all throughout.

Clearing the slate—which in this case is your home—and starting afresh with a massive “beginning of the year clean-up” requires time, determination and patience, but it is definitely worth it. Living around clutter can be stressful; in this case, the phrase “tidy house, tidy mind” certainly has some merit.

But what happens after you clean and organise your home from top to bottom? Do you leave it, let it get cluttered again and attempt another major cleaning in half a year? It’s important to keep your progress going by committing to good decluttering habits. The challenge is in the maintenance.

Forming the right habits when it comes to keeping your home tidy can yield great results—it can instill discipline in you, teach you the value of caring for your things and surroundings, and reward you with a personal living space that’s clean, fresh, peaceful and inspiring.

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Cultivate the habit of: giving things away

Assign a give-away box and steadily fill it with items you no longer need or want. Photo: YouTube screen grab

As people, we have too much stuff—clothing, technology, shoes, you name it. Get yourself a “give away” box and place it somewhere that’s easy to access. Whenever you see something in your home that you feel you no longer want or need (and are willing to donate to others who are less fortunate), just put it in the assigned box immediately.

Fill it as you go throughout the year, and seal it up and donate it once you’ve filled the box. Don’t forget to assign a new “give away” box after it’s been given away. Get members of the family in on the plan, too, and whatever you do—don’t go digging in the “give away” box to see if you want anything back. Once it’s in there, it’s going.

Keep this up throughout the year, and you’ll be surprised at how many items you will have to give away to others.

Cultivate the habit of: cleaning as you go

Cleaning is a lifestyle. Photo: YouTube screen grab

One of the best and most fundamentally necessary habits that people need to learn is to clean up after themselves. But let’s face it—many of us are lazy and given to procrastination, and we also make the mistake of putting off our chores until they’ve piled up and are a little bit more than intimidating; no, they become overwhelming.

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If we adopt the habit of picking up after ourselves, it becomes much easier. As an example, let’s take the dishes. No one really likes doing dishes, but leaving the pile of dirty plates to grow bigger everyday is a bad idea—take care of it on a daily basis and save yourself the stress and the hassle of clutter and mess.

Cultivate the habit of: finding your own decluttering technique

Find your own organisation method. Photo: YouTube screen grab

From the popular KonMari method by Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo to other minimalist approaches to life and organisation, there are many popular techniques and tried-and-tested tricks to getting rid of clutter and living in a more organised manner.

Decluttering is a personal process. See what other people are doing, try as many tips and ideas as you like, and then find the method that works best for you.You might be the sort to tidy everyday or perhaps you prefer a weekly clean-up, and whether it’s staunchly severing ties with old items by getting them immediately out of your sight or lovingly thanking your old clothes for serving you well, the result is the same.

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Cultivate the habit of: assigning everything its proper place

Storage boxes and labels are great for keeping organised. Photo: YouTube screen grab

Organising experts may have their different signature methods on decluttering, but they can all agree on one thing—it’s a good practice to assign items a “home” or a proper place of their own.

If a particular item is assigned its own place (for example, the car keys live on this hook in the kitchen and nowhere else), it should always be returned to that same place after use and, in theory, should not go missing.

Much of our time is spent searching for sundry items such as keys, wallets, phones and sunglasses. Assigning items their proper place (and religiously making sure they find their way back to it) is one way to not just get organised but stay organised (and save time and energy in the process).