In my world, the secret to staying organized comes down to two things: knowing where everything belongs and making the time to put things away. Thankfully, because I know where everything is supposed to go, the task of keeping my office neat and tidy, among other things, is fairly manageable.

To help you get – and stay – organized in the New Year, I’ve compiled a list of tasks I personally do year-round, which should help you stay on task as well. While some of the projects might take as little as 10 minutes to accomplish, others, such as sorting through old papers, will take a bit longer. Remember, the more you stay on top of these projects, the easier it will be to stay organized year round:

  1. Once a month I wash all of my hair and makeup brushes. At the same time, I empty my makeup drawer, tossing out any “old” makeup and then, before putting anything away, I clean the drawer with Clorox-brand wipes.
  1. Once a year I empty all the cabinets and drawers in my kitchen, carefully culling the utensils, pots, pans, plates, bowls and serving dishes to decide what stays and what goes. Honestly, how many spatulas does one person need?
  1. Twice a year, I empty and clean the medicine cabinet in my master bathroom, which, by the way, does not house any medicines, as these should be kept in a cool, dry place and not in the bathroom. As always, I remove everything before cleaning the shelves, making sure to put back only those items I really need, want and actually use. Although I don’t keep drugs (over-the-counter and/or prescription) in the medicine cabinet, I do, however, dispose of any expired pills, creams, etc. and replace as necessary. (For proper disposal, please visit:
  1. Twice a year I empty the refrigerator and freezer and clean and disinfect the shelves and drawers. I try to keep things simple by using a disinfecting wipe on the shelves and a soapy-water solution for the drawers. The secret is to remove everything from the fridge/freezer before you clean and to put back only those items you like, need and use.
  1. I keep all my travel items – umbrella, noise-cancelling ear buds, converter plugs and travel-sized toiletry samples, etc. – in a medium-sized (8”h x 10”w x 12”d) plastic bin in my linen closet. Before each trip, I empty the bin onto my bed and sort through every item, carefully contemplating what stays and what goes before putting things back in the bin in a neat and orderly fashion. (Note: Any brand new, unopened toiletry/makeup samples I don’t foresee using will be donated to a local shelter.)
  1. Whenever I find myself “on hold” with, for example, Comcast or CenturyLink I put that time to good use by emptying out and sorting through the ubiquitous kitchen junk drawer. Need I say more?
  1. This one’s a little crazy and really doesn’t have anything to do with being organized, but for those of you who know me, you also know I’m a bit of a neat freak. So… when I find myself with time to spare, I get on my hands and knees and clean every single floorboard in my home with Clorox-brand disinfecting wipes.
  1. At least twice a year, I comb my closets and dresser drawers in search of anything I no longer like, use or wear. This includes uncomfortable shoes (no matter how much they cost) and any tee shirts that are showing a little wear and tear. Whatever can be consigned will be; everything else goes to charity.
  1. Twice a year I sort through my trusty Rolodex pulling any cards I no longer refer to and filing away new contact cards I’ve collected during the past six months.
  1. Last, but not least, immediately after tax time, I sort through all my “hard-copy” files, carefully scrutinizing every single piece of paper. Any paperwork, which can be retrieved online, gets shredded (i.e.: bank statements, credit card statements & utility bills). Any papers important enough to keep hard copies of (ex: medical insurance contract, homeowners & auto insurance declaration pages & HUD Statements) will get put away in a clearly marked file. This is also the time of year when I review my insurance and utility coverages to ensure I’m getting the best coverage for the best price and not paying for a service I don’t use or don’t need.