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If one of your resolutions for the new year was to be more organized, listen up! Real Simple's Stephanie Sisco is sharing expert strategies for clearing out the excess from your home in 2015, category by category. 

Books

You may think that down the road you might want to read that book again, but if you aren’t absolutely sure you will, or if the book doesn’t hold sentimental value, it’s time to get rid of it.

Check with the nearby library or school to see if they will accept book donations. If not, submit your books to Books for Africa or to troops throughout Operation Paperback. Fill up small boxes with gently-used books (throw out anything that’s torn or stained), then send them off for donation and relish in your new-found space.

Bags

Stephanie says that it doesn’t matter how pricey that bag was or what random situation might require you to pull out that tote you haven’t used in ages. If you haven’t used a bag sitting in your closet over the last year, let it go.

First, define a storage space, such as a shelf or a bin, for your bags and let that dictate how many you can have. Place your favorites in the space. Give yourself two weeks to try and only use what you selected and see if any of the remaining bags make it back in the rotation. If so, add them in. If not, off to the donation center – or eBay if they have monetary value – they go. 

Kitchen tools, platters and mugs

First, assess what you actually use. Then pull out the random mugs and servewhere you’re always reaching past and put them on a table. Next, Stephanie says to face your fantasies. How many platters would you really use if you had a dinner party? Are those gourmet gadgets really you? Assess what’s realistic and place what’s not on the table. Then add everything onto the table into a box and take it to the donation center. 

Clothes

Cleaning out the closet is a new year ritual that shouldn’t be skipped, so put that brave face on and get ready to face the music.

Moving through one category at a time (drawers, then what’s hanging, then shoes), pull out anything that’s stained and throw it in the trash. Next, take out anything you don’t wear regularly and put into a garbage bag. Put the bag in a storage area and cue the Hallelujah Chorus for the closet space that just opened up. After a few months, if you haven’t gone looking for anything in those bags, it’s time to drop it off at a donation center.

Find more expert strategies for clearing the clutter in January’s issue of Real Simple magazine.