Tackling the “Get Organized” Resolution

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to “get organized,” don’t worry — there’s still time to do that this year.

Before we get started with the details, let’s talk about a change of mindset that must take place. Let’s change the word “resolution” to “goal.” New Year’s resolutions have a short-term feeling and have a habit of falling by the wayside shortly after they are made. Sometimes people joke with friends about how long (or not!) they were able to keep their resolutions. Furthermore, people often feel that once they have “broken the resolution” they have failed and that is the end. Goals are different. Goals have both short-term and long-term objectives and tasks. Goals are flexible. For example, your overall goal may be to have an organized home by June 30. Long-term objectives might be:

  • organize the kitchen and guest bathroom by January 30
  • organize the living room and dining room by February 28
  • organize the master suite and linen closet by March 31
  • organize one bedroom and one bathroom by April 30
  • organize the other bedroom and the other bathroom by May 31
  • organize any remaining spaces by June 30.

Now YOU must establish your organizing goal(s). Go ahead and groan, but without a destination, you won’t know how to get there. You may have heard of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Without becoming overwhelmed or too legalistic, you can make SMART organizing goals.

Begin by choosing the space(s) you want to organize. Think about or visualize what you want it to look like when it is organized. If you like to be creative, cut out magazine pictures of what “organized” looks like to you. It might help you to ask, “I know I will be organized when (fill in the blank with specific criteria).” Select a date by which you would like the space to be organized. List tasks that must be completed and create a timeline. If you are overwhelmed at this point, take a deep breath and consider how much your stress level will decrease once the space optimized and you don’t have to avoid it or spend lots of time trying to find items in it.

Here is an example of the process:

Space: Adult Bedroom

Goal: I know it will be organized when there are no clothes on the floor or on the furniture and when I have a reading corner that I can relax in.

Deadline: February 28

Tasks:

  1. Sort clothes in closet (keep, donate, toss) by January 15.
  2. Sort clothes in dresser and on floor by January 22.
  3. Remove all items that don’t belong in a bedroom by January 29.
  4. Evaluate closet and dresser space and acquire (purchase or from other rooms in the house) organizing items as needed by February 5.
  5. Store appropriate clothes in closet and in dresser using appropriate storage by February 12.
  6. Move or acquire furniture as needed to create space for reading corner by February 18.
  7. Put the “finishing touches” in your space by February 26.
  8. Determine not to bring in any item that doesn’t have a home in your bedroom!

Now that you have set an organizing goal with specific short-term objectives, it is time to get started! You do not have to complete each step in one session. Consider working 30–60 minutes several days a week and “define” the time by setting a timer or listening to a favorite music. During the decluttering process, start at one point and move clockwise or counter-clockwise rather than going from one side of a room to another. Reward yourself when you meet your timeline … think consumable, not an item for the room you are organizing! Examples of consumable rewards include eating favorite food, treating yourself to a “treatment” (manicure, pedicure, massage), or renting a movie you have wanted to see. If you skip a designated organizing session, just plan additional time or add a few extra minutes to upcoming sessions. Don’t completely abandon your goal because of one missed task deadline!