Well, it’s that time of year again and most folks are thinking about setting New Year’s resolutions. The other day I heard someone say that if you don’t like the term resolution, try regeneration. I like that thought. The first of January offers us a new start. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. It doesn’t matter if you’ve set a goal and given up after a few weeks. Even if you don’t exactly complete a goal, at least you’ve accomplished something along the way.
Nevertheless, here are a few tips that will help make your resolution making more successful.
1. Set a realistic goal. I’ve set goals determining that I would never eat another bite of chocolate. Right. So, set one goal and make it realistic.
2. If organizing something is your goal, make it specific. Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to get organized this year,’ pick a specific area (or system) that you’re going to tackle.
3. Once you’ve selected a specific area to work on, break it down into manageable pieces. Organizing is messy – you have to clear an area before you can get it organized. Therefore, you want to do one small area at a time. For example, organizing a kitchen is a great goal (and a very important one, by the way) but a better goal is: I will organize the kitchen. Today I will organize this drawer (or shelf, or whatever).
This helps in two ways. First, you’re not tearing up a large area. If something comes up (and it frequently does) you won’t be terribly inconvenienced by having an entire pantry or cabinet disassembled. Second, finishing is a great motivator. It’s pretty simple to organize one drawer and when that job is done you feel a sense of completion – that you finished a particular goal. That success leads to further successes (another organized drawer, etc.) and before you know it, you’re at the big finish – the kitchen is organized.
4. Maintain what you’ve done. This is especially important if you’re living with other people. Whenever you open a closet, cabinet or drawer and see something out of place, quickly and quietly put it back where it belongs. This reinforces to everyone else, where something goes. This sounds obsessive-compulsive, I know – but it’s not as daunting as it sounds and pays dividends in the end.
Sometimes you need to label things, label lips of shelves or drawers, etc. so everyone else in the house understands the system. Keep in mind, however, that there are people (particularly children) who really don’t care about this organized system stuff. That’s okay. They need to feel how good organized surroundings feel. They need to feel the discomfort and stress that disarray brings. Hopefully they’ll choose the former.
5. Don’t become obsessive or overly organized. I personally know a woman who irons shoelaces. Another person I know takes her vacuum on vacation. One friend told me that her children will get out a game and go back into the playroom to get a missing piece. When they get back to the game table, the game is put away. Don’t make home a place people leave when they want to enjoy themselves. Your goal should be that your home is warm, welcoming and inviting. It’s not a museum, after all.
Also, sometimes we set up systems that are too complicated and require too many motions or decisions. Keep it simple and it’s easier to maintain and invites cooperation.
I wasn’t born organized. I hit bottom when our third child was born and had to shovel my way out of the mess. It was before organizing was an industry and there wasn’t a lot of outside help: no Pinterest, no magazine articles, tv shows or professional organizers. So I made a list of my problems and worked on one thing at a time.
Another thing I learned is that I gave myself permission to keep starting over when I slacked off. Don’t ever stop starting over. Don’t look in the rear-view mirror.l Just re-boot as often as you need to.
Have a very Happy New Year and may 2015 be a happily organized one!