Winter sneaks up on me every year. It must be a self-preservation technique that we somehow forget how dark and short the days get, how tough it is to get up on cold mornings, how tempting to crawl into bed as soon as the dinner dishes are done. The clocks have finally been set back, so at least we get a little more snooze time and a little more light in the mornings, but that also means any evening workouts and most evening meals will be done in the dark for the next few months. What organizing projects can be tackled under these dismal circumstances?

There are festive, feasting holidays during this time of year for a reason—to distract us from the cold and dark, the wet and muddy. The best use of our organizing energies might be to go through holiday items as they come up and to do the organizing needed in order to do the holiday-related tasks. The more parties and socializing we have to look forward to all winter, the faster it will seem to go.

If you’re cooking for any special meals, it’s a great time to go through your kitchen cupboards and drawers to both make sure you have all the utensils, tools and ingredients you will need and also to get rid of anything you forgot you had and never use.

If you plan on dressing up, do a run through of potential outfits and pull aside anything that no longer fits or you’ve aged out of or is otherwise unflattering or uncomfortable. Make sure you’ve got the accessories you need and make a list of things to purchase if you’re lacking a little something. For women, go through the make-up drawer too. An hour or two of organizing and planning in the closet and bathroom early in the season can make getting ready for holiday parties fast, easy and fun. This year you will probably want to plan a rain-worthy second outfit or at least a coat and shoes that are good in wet weather.

Be sure to make any hair, nail and other appointments early to snag your preferred date and time.

If you’re still being Covid-cautious and don’t plan on having or attending holiday gatherings, winter is also a good time to get to memorabilia organizing. Clear your largest surface—coffee table, dining table, spare bed—and gather all of the memorabilia you’ve been wanting to sort in one place. Make piles of “like with like,” whether that is school work, old driver’s licenses, photographs by person or year, children’s artwork, baby clothes, and on and on.

Winter is the perfect time to reminisce, and if you’re not entertaining, you can leave your piles out on the table until well after the groundhog sees its shadow.

Any computer organizing you’ve been putting off is a good project for long dark evenings. Make a game of deleting as many old e-mails as you can, or old photos—find the best and delete the rest.

It’s also a great time to catch up on any reading you’ve put aside to do and planning, both business and personal. By the way, if a book doesn’t thrill you, have a bag or box ready to take it and any of its buddies to sell or donate.

If you’re tired of tracking mud and leaves into the house, start taking your shoes and boots off at the door and trading for slippers. Install some interior, absorbent door mats if needed. Have a basket of old towels sort of handy for when it’s really wet out, and a place to put wet umbrellas.

Last, don’t forget to organize the auto for winter. Maybe order some sturdy rubber mats for the front floor boards. Make sure you’ve got an umbrella and working flashlight in the trunk and a rain poncho, extra sweater or warm coat, just in case. Make sure your brakes, tires and windshield wiper blades are all up to snuff well before you have to do any winter traveling.

May your winter be safe, hopefully cozy, possibly fun and maybe even organized.