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A Pro's Advice: Tips & Best Practices for a Clutter Free Home in the New Year

Happy last day of 2018, friends! As I do nearly every year, I am trying to focus on making my home more comfortable by decluttering. Two of my main issues are never knowing just where to start and then, once I finally do get something done, I don't keep up with it and it becomes a cluttered mess again. I know I can't be the only one with this problem, endless memes on social media confirm it, so a few weeks ago I reached out to a local organizing professional I had been following for inspiration. I'm excited to report that Jennifer Jacovino Baptiste, the genius behind Ace of Space located here in (Southington) CT agreed to help us all out with a few of her best tips! 

So that you can put a face to the name, this is Jennifer. I hope you'll be able to use at least a few of the wonderful tips she is sharing. Without further ado, here's her advice:

With the new year upon us, now is a good time to think about what you want to do differently in 2019 to help you create a less cluttered, organized, and unified homefront.

As a Professional Organizer, I have the opportunity to see a variety of different homes on a daily basis. It seems that the home size doesn’t matter but the routine and systems put place that keeps any home running efficiently, reducing stress and anxiety. Decluttering and taking some key areas in your home to ground zero is a refreshing & invigorating way to start 2019!

I’m going to give you some tips and best practices, that with effort on your part will make an impactful dent in decluttering the areas that family’s struggle with the most.

Holiday Decor
Everyone has their own timeline as to when it goes up and comes down. Set a timeframe to pack it up and put it away for next year. When putting away the current stuff revisit what didn’t make it out this year. Use this opportunity to purge old decor and pack it away properly so that next year it’s pulled out seamlessly.

During the holidays the ads, cards, and other mail come in fast and furiously. Mail is one of the biggest eyes sores to look at. Collect ALL the piles of mail scattered around the house and put them into one box. Find 3 empty bins/boxes and label them as follows

✔️needs action
✔️to be filed
✔️recycle /burn /shred

As your sitting watching your favorite show, sort them.  Once all sorting is complete continue the progress on to what needs action, place important paperwork where it needs to go and continue to do this going forward as it comes in. React on a regular basis before it builds up.

Drop Zones
The snow will be flying before you know it and that means it’s time for a mudroom, vestibule, hallway, and garage check! Have everyone claim their shoes & stuff. Are they seasonally appropriate? Do they fit? When the last time you wore it. Clear the area -if you are keeping it -put it away. Start with minimal shoes. Do the same with other items stuck in drop zone limbo (coats, purses, sporting equipment, store recycle bags with misc stuff, etc). I use the “move it or lose it rule”. Let everyone know the clear out date -post a sign if needed.


With shopping online becoming the norm, one of the first things I do when working in any area is remove the junk. Empty boxes, plastic bags, and shipping materials are the first to go. Chucking the empty boxes into the garage or basement doesn’t make them disappear -it just causes more mess and clutter. Reacting to it immediately should be the new rule going forward. Take the time to go through the house and remove all the residual online mess. Something to keep in mind going forward… “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over??”.

Kids School Work
The school year has been underway for about 3 months now .. gather up all the tests, pictures & report cards and let's get it under control and manageable for the remainder of the year.

When choosing what to keep consider the following …

✔️you can’t keep it ALL!!
✔️choose a little of each part of the school year. (Beginning, middle & end)
✔️can you read it or know what it’s a picture of ?? If you say no-chuck it!

What you decide to keep should be placed in a plastic bin with the child’s name on it and stored in a non-dominant area(basement, closet, under their bed, etc). Each age-appropriate child should have their own bin and be able to place their items in it when advised to by you. Do this monthly and avoid the end of the year chaos.

The most important advice I can give you is wherever you feel the need to start, you STAY in one area and DO NOT move on until that area has been completely/thoroughly gone through. No NEW project should be started until one is complete. FOCUS / LACK OF FOLLOW THROUGH is the #1 reason a project is NOT finished from beginning to end.

Create a plan keeping all this in MIND and this will BE THE SPARK that sets the tone for how & what you're going to do to make 2019  different than years past. Focus & follow through can change the world! 

Best wishes for a  Happy & Healthy 2019!

Jennifer Jacovino Baptiste

1 comment

  1. Great tips! We've been purging things as we put new things away. Organization would definitely help the whole family live less stressful.


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