So, you’ve decided to clean up, declutter, organize and/or simplify. But where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • With your papers, to ensure you haven’t missed a bill.
  • In your living room, or any spaces guests see the most, or you spend the most time in.
  • In your bedroom, which is supposed to be your sanctuary, right?
  • In a closet that is overflowing with clothes, shoes and bags,

These are all fine ideas. It doesn’t matter where you start, really. But I often recommend starting in your kitchen.

Getting rid of expired food, spices and other consumables can not only create more space for storage and cooking, but it could be important for your health. Fortunately, with expiration dates on most food items, there is little guesswork involved: The date on the can or box will make the decision for you. Sometimes, the condition of the food will help with that too. (Note: I’ll never forget the childhood experience of excitedly reaching into my grandmother’s refrigerator for a carrot to feed a wild rabbit outside, only to pull out something black and slimy, which I immediately dropped on the orange shag-carpeted kitchen floor. Scarred for life.)

For those items that don’t have dates, you can get a sense of whether you should toss them here. Food that isn’t expired, but you know you’ll never eat, you can donate to a food bank. And when you’ve whittled down to what you really need, check out this site for organizing ideas.

For more help with getting started on decluttering and organizing, check this out.