Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Organizing Mistakes (Part One: January Whirlwind)

Welcome to Part One of a new series. I’ll be identifying common errors that sabotage our attempts at organization.

(For those of you who grew up in my era, cue the mental Beastie Boys soundtrack. Indulge for a few seconds. …And, now we’re back.)

Whether you are struggling to get organized or just want to be more organized, I’d imagine that you are tempted by the first culprit I’d like to address: the January whirlwind.

No matter where you look, the instant that Christmas is over, everyone is trying to restore order.
Stores reduce prices in attempts to move inventory. The radio station quickly (and frustratingly) switches back to their typical playlists at 12:01 am on December 26, leaving you with no more musical joy for holiday gatherings that happen after that moment. Magazines instruct invite you to tidy up your home, using photos with plenty of white in the palette. Everyone packs up the formerly adorable decorations that have now just become “clutter”. And there are New Year’s organizing resolutions aplenty.

Obviously, if you are still with me, you know that I believe getting organized is a good thing.

But more important is staying organized.

You know that it takes anywhere from 21 to 30 days to make an activity into a habit. You also know that changing your personal behaviors requires extra motivation and discipline. And if you have a family, you know you’ll also have a bit of convincing, training and reinforcing that you need to do.

Is this a wholesale decision to make on December 31? No, not at all. While I am wild about doing things as well as possible and as fast as possible, this is not the time nor the situation. Planning and patience are required.

January Do’s and Don’t’s
  • Do not run to the store and wildly purchase bins or specialty containers.
  • Do not empty out large quantities of cabinets or cupboards with the goal of wiping down and rearranging them. You will burn out. Quickly.
  • Do not assume that one week of vacation and a full iPod will be enough to perfect the organization in your life.
  •  Do set a timer and tackle one shelf or one drawer at a time.
  • Do realize that small, successful steps will pave the way for you to make larger changes. It’s okay to start with a central place for keys and progress onto emptying the bedroom-turned-storage-closet. Later, much later.
  • Do take time to identify the problem areas or “subjects” (e.g. paperwork, children’s belongings, kitchen storage) in your house and brainstorm ways to improve the problem with family members.
  • Do take the list of disorganized issues (above) and assign each area to a month of the year. Work on each issue for a month and evaluate the impact.
  • Do realize that staying organized will require ongoing effort. We’ll talk more about this later.
So, how are you doing with your New Year's resolutions?

1 comment:

  1. Something I tried this year that helped a lot was to set New Year's resolutions ... in early December. I decided I wanted new habits established before I hit 2013, so that I was entering the new year with a new mindset. So I started on December 1 with the goal of establishing the habits by January 1.

    This made a big difference because I had a concrete goal to aim for and I was motivated by the "fresh start" of the new year.

    I've also found that the right apps on your phone can be really helpful in establishing new habits--timers, alarms, lists (that cross off with a satisfying swish!), even motivational apps that heap on the praise when you follow through. Who doesn't like getting a gold star for a three-week streak?!