If getting and staying organized is one of your New Year’s goals, don’t just resolve to “get organized.” Instead, try to determine specific actions and habits that can help you reach that goal. Here are a few examples:
How many thousands of emails do you have? Many of us dream of having an organized, manageable inbox, but the messages pile up so quickly and the task of reducing the volume seems so daunting that we feel paralyzed. The good news is that organizing and deleting emails is not difficult; the bad news is that it takes dedication and consistency to get it done and to stay on top of it. By setting a goal of filing and deleting old emails for 10 minutes each day, most of us could winnow our inbox to only current, and relevant, emails by the end of January. Really.
During the first week of January, create a few key files for paperwork — for instance, “Taxes 2016,” “Medical” and “Home Maintenance.” It will take five minutes and save you so much time later. You may be thinking that 2016 is the year you’ll go paperless. But even if you do almost everything electronically, you will still have important papers that need a home. Creating files for those papers will make it a breeze to put things away properly.
Impulse buys and last-minute trinkets we throw in our basket while we’re waiting in the checkout line are what usually turn into clutter. When you’re heading out to a store, make a list and stick to it. Buying something just because it’s on sale or because you “might” be able to use it is generally a bad idea. Consider whether you need, and will actually use, something before bringing it home.
In a typical household, some people are organized, and others are disorganized. The organized members try diligently to keep things in order and get the others to follow their lead. Although well intentioned, this rarely works, simply because everyone functions differently. To keep a household organized and running smoothly, have each family member come up with a task that they care about and want to manage. One person can be in charge of the mail each day, one person may agree to do the weekly grocery shopping, someone else might want to take care of the laundry, and everyone can be in charge of his or her room. There may be disagreement about the value of the task and whether the process will work, but empowering people to participate is most important.
Major disorganization usually occurs when people are consistently tired or stressed and therefore unable to concentrate. There will always be days, weeks and even months that are more stressful than others, but if you resolve to take care of yourself by eating healthfully and getting adequate exercise and sleep, it will be much easier to find the time and energy to stay organized. Carving out time that we can control is essential to achieving an organized life.
With the new year as motivation, getting started right away is a good idea. But if you try to do too much at once, you will feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, start small and develop consistency. Try to spend 10 or 15 minutes doing one organizing task each day. By pacing yourself, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and the motivation to do more. If possible, pick something you can finish during the amount of time you have available. If you have 10 extra minutes in the morning, delete unwanted emails. If you have 20 minutes one afternoon, fold a load of laundry and put it away, and if you have 30 minutes at night, do some meal planning and make a grocery list. All progress is good progress when it comes to organizing resolutions.
Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.