10 Residential Resolutions for 2010
1. Be responsible
Get serious about recycling by setting up a sorting center in your garage that helps you stay on top of things.
"Start by finding out what the guidelines for recycling are in your community," Constable says. "Then clear a space, find appropriate containers and make them accessible all in one spot. Label them so that recycling becomes easy to do for everyone."
2. Be frugal
Turn some of your unwanted gifts and household items into cash by selling them on eBay and Craigslist.
"There are so many things that we basically are just storing in our homes," Constable says. "We don't use them or need them, but they still are around. Why not turn these things into cash?"
3. Be generous
Donate your unused household goods to St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill or other charitable groups. Don't forget the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which accepts usable building materials that can be sold to finance more building projects.
Linnig is a fan of www.freecycle.org, a sharing Web site that she says allows you to be frugal and generous by posting items and giving them away to people who have a real need.
"You may love something but never use it, so it winds up just taking up space in your home. What if you could give it to someone who wants it and would also love it?" she asks. "That allows you to change the way you think about your possessions."
4. Be tidy
Make this the year you set up a system for mail that comes into your home. Stay on top of bill-paying, too.
Constable suggests three choices for every piece of mail. "First, you can throw it out; second, take action on it (such as following up or making a payment); or, third, file it.
As for a system for paying bills, she suggests making a master list from 1 to 31 and listing when each bill is due each month, how it gets paid (online or by mail) and what a typical amount is. That way you know what is due when and you won't be caught by surprise. It also allows someone else to take over bill-paying duties if necessary.
5. Be discerning
Clutter and overcrowding, according to Lueck, most often are "the result of having too many things rather than inadequate storage spaces. If you resist impulse buying and don't buy something unless you really need it, you can keep your possession count as low as possible.
In short, she says, "try to make do with what you own."
6. Be inclusive
Involve your family in the home organization process. Getting kids involved "teaches skills and responsibility," Constable says.
Linnig suggests setting a timer or playing a fun song when children are helping.
"You can do anything for 10 or 15 minutes," she says. Often when kids start to make progress on straightening up their rooms or putting away toys, they ignore the time limit and keep going until the job is done, taking pride in what they have accomplished.
7. Be mindful
You want to have a sense of safety and comfort at home, which can, in part, be achieved by having working smoke detectors, a carbon monoxide detector and a radon meter (in areas where radon is a concern).
Taking safety a step further, consider replacing candles with alternatives such as scented globes or battery-operated flickering pillars that help create the same mood. Careless use of candles causes more than 20,000 residential fires a year and about 165 deaths, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
8. Be health-conscious
When tackling home improvement projects, educate yourself about products that have less of an impact on your home environment, such as low-VOC paint and eco-friendly carpet.
9. Be aware
Energy costs are going up, and environmental awareness is an important topic these days. You can do something about it. Obvious changes include replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents, using a setback thermostat and buying Energy Star appliances when possible.
The U.S. Department of Energy offers tips at www.energysavers.gov.
10. Be prepared for next year
Update your Christmas card list this year before you put cards and new addresses away. Store decorations in an organized fashion, labeling them according to the room in which they are used, for example.
Hang up lights so that they don't tangle. Throw out any decorations that are tired or tattered so that you don't have to sort through them yet again next year. Buy cards on sale after Christmas this year and store them somewhere where you won't forget about them.
"It's a good idea to put your Christmas card supplies with your Halloween decorations," Constable says. "That helps remind you to get an early start so that you won't be addressing cards at the last minute."
Now that's being organized.
Here's how to get more info from some organization experts:
Paula Constable's Web site and blog are available at www.stuff2Borganized.com.
Jennifer Linnig's Web site is www.jenniferlinnig.com. It has a link to her blog and to a YouTube video that shows how an actual room can be organized.
Jo Lueck's Web site is www.jorganize.com.