I am all about getting started on prepping for the new year as early as possible. I think that resolutions should be made early and often, but a new year is a great time to think about long-term goals and set your self in the right state of mind to make the right kind of resolutions all year long. I’ll write a resolutions post closer to the big day, but I wanted to talk a little about some ways to get yourself in the positive state of mind. One of the first things I do when I know I need a change of pace is declutter. Yes, cleaning your tub and doing your laundry are good ways to make your living space more livable but there are lots of other places that get neglected this time of year that might be holding you back. Here’s a few places I’m making sure to cleanse this holiday season.
About this time every year, my computer starts to move like molasses and overheat from my power-Netflixing and running so many programs. First things first, I back up all of my files. It took two years of my laptop crashing during finals week of fall semester to buy an external hard drive, but it was extremely worth it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to back up your files because, even if you take other precautions and your computer still dies, you have lost everything. Do it. Next, I run a little Disk Cleanup and get rid of files my computer isn’t even using. While you’re checking that out, look into that little Disk Defragmenter button and schedule it to run every week. If you wait to do this once a year, it can take hours. Mine runs Wednesday evenings in the background and I don’t even notice. Wham-bam-my computer runs a little faster and feels a little lighter.
I’m not much of a techie, but I am permanently attached to my iPhone (not that this is a surprise to anyone). As a blogger, I take a ton of photos and as a human I listen to a lot of music, both of which can take up a lot of space on my phone. To keep things running smoothly, I am trying to be in the habit of backing up my photos and then deleting them from my phone to make more space.
When an iPhone is synced to iTunes, you can see this sometimes not-so-little space on your phone called Other. After quite a bit of research, I learned that this ambiguously named area on my phone is taken up by stuff like voice mails and emails. After clearing out these two folders (goodbye ancient J.Crew and Obama Campaign emails!), I still had some Other left over that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. Then I found this nifty trick that helped me clear the rest of it out: Settings > General > Usage > Music. Okay, at first I thought I was about to erase all of my music from my phone and I got terrified. No worries, this trick just removes the extra files that come with your tunes like album art and info. Click on Music and then swipe the bar so that the Delete button shows up. Click it. Again, don’t worry, you aren’t deleting your entire music library! Only extra files that you don’t need taking up space on your phone.
Lastly, clean up your contact list. Delete the numbers of guys you met at bars, but never texted. If there is are exes that you don’t want to accidentally respond to in the distant future, label them Do Not Text-Adam. If there are exes that you know you shouldn’t text in the first place, label them I Deserve Respect. With the internet available on nearly every device, you don’t need the phone number to four different Pizza Huts saved in your phone.
I am now shamefully admitting that the state of my kitchen is usually quite embarrassing. I live alone and really don’t spend much time in my apartment that isn’t used sleeping or showering, so I don’t keep a lot of food in the house. However, the food I do buy goes bad eventually and I have a tendency to leave it there, in the back of my refrigerator and cupboards. A few things that I recently learned do, in fact, expire: canned chicken noodle soup, refrigerated salsa, and Nutella. (Who knew, right? Just me? Well, if you also didn’t know then now you do.) If you’re like me and can’t be bothered to throw these things out one at a time, then set aside a couple of hours to gather all of your expired goods and then deep clean the areas where they lived. I have an (irrational?) fear of mold and I am sensitive to the (probably made up) smell of it, so I like to super clean everything that it could have touched and kill it for good. This website (found on Pinterest, duh) has some awesome tips to make food last longer, how to organize your fridge, and how to deep clean it later.
After you’ve cleaned out all of the expired food, take another look through what’s left and get rid of things you know aren’t good for you. I don’t mean the cookies Grandma baked you for Christmas–I mean the can of icing you’ve been eating off a spoon and the half-eaten bag of hot cheetos. Throw them away. Then, make a list of healthier substitutes for these snacks. But be realistic. Lettuce is never going to replace hot cheetos, but whole wheat crackers and sharp cheddar might. Instead of icing, buy vanilla yogurt and some berries to stir in for color. Part of cleaning your kitchen is taking the time to clean your diet. You eat what’s available, so buy things that are better for you that you still want to eat.
As I mentioned, I don’t spend a lot of time in my apartment. Where I do spend a lot of time is in my car. I know that I am not at a Hoarders level of messy/gross in my car, but that definitely doesn’t excuse its current state. If you’re like me and you eat, get dressed, apply makeup, and house old textbooks in your car, then this is for you.
I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is every time I’ve gotten a flat and have to remove all of the contents of my trunk on the side of the road. Oh wait, yes I can. Very embarrassing. On a good day, I have an Apples to Apples game, a blanket, a towel, jumper cables, and washer fluid. On a bad day, I have a giant plastic teddy bear filled with animal crackers, animal crackers because said bear has lost his lid, IKEA bags filled with clothes rejected by Plato’s Closet, several pairs of shoes, a tub of cat litter that I was too lazy to bring upstairs, and used wrapping paper. I need to clean that shit out. I need to buy a crate to keep the essentials in so that when someone does have to get to my spare tire, they can do so easily. I need to vacuum those animal crackers.
Speaking of vacuuming, I really need to vacuum my whole car. There are leaves for days and probably tiny dead insects that were once living on the animal crackers and ancient McDonald’s fries that are crushed into the carpet and upholstery. It only costs a handful of quarters at the car wash to use the vacuum and I think we should all make this important investment before the new year. Get rid of the Sonic cups and sell the textbooks and you may as well put a jewelry box in your center console because more of your necklaces live in your car than in your apartment anyway. You’ll be glad you did it.
For tips on getting started on your new year’s cleaning, check out the wonderful website Unfuck Your Habitat (they even have an app now!).