|PRACTICAL ORGANIZING SOLUTIONS||
September is Self-Improvement Month! What a great time of year to re-focus on ourselves. As the days cool and shorten, it’s the perfect time for looking inward. Now is a natural point to assess our goals, make adjustments and create plans to carry us through the year end. We may want to declutter a personal space, set up a workable filing system, or finally organize a photo collection. Of course, self-improvement can encompass any area of our lives such as health, relationships, career, volunteering or education. How do we get started and make progress and maintain momentum? The best way I know is to choose a small improvement and go for it! Don’t be tempted with grandiose ideas that could lead to frustration but be realistic, honest, and practical. The purpose is to make changes that will improve the way we feel about yourselves. The changes can make us stronger, wiser, or more capable of dealing with everyday struggles. Thus, time spent on self-improvement is never wasted. What small self improvement would make a big impact on your life? Are you ready to make it happen?
The New Year is a great time for new beginnings, setting goals and feeling hope for the future. Here are five steps to help you succeed with your resolutions this year.
1) Set a clear goal, one that is realistic. For your resolution, the goal must be one that YOU really want to achieve. Take time to explore why you want to make a change. (If you are okay with the status quo then don’t bother with this exercise!) Let’s take decluttering the house. Many of us have this goal but why? Do you want to know where your keys are located at all times? Do you want your house to feel more comfortable? Do you want to reduce the overwhelming visual clutter? Do you want to be able to invite guests to your house without being embarrassed? Do you want to clear the house so your mind feels less jumbled?
2) Confirm your goal. Write down your resolution. Create a vision board. Share your intentions with others. Get a buddy. Use a goal-tracking phone app. Make it real. This confirmation acts as your motivation so it must be inspiring.
3) Have a plan. Next, develop a plan that will get you to where you want to go. It can be in the form of a project management sheet, a mind map on paper, a detailed vision board or a specific plan in your mind. It must have two clearly described parts:
Part One: tasks and a timeline so that you know you are on track,
Part Two: a contingency plan (list of alternative actions) that you agree to follow when you encounter a difficult period. Say, during your project to declutter the kitchen, you experience a life crisis. You feel unmotivated to pick up, clean, or put anything away. This pre-existing contingency plan gives you a predetermined list of minimal tasks that will keep you on the right track until the crisis is over and more time can be committed again. (Like having extra healthy snacks on hand when you are dieting!) Even small decluttering activities will make you feel successful in the moment, for that day.
4) Practice flexibility: Keep in mind that you should be kind to yourself. If you lose your willpower one day remember that each day is a new beginning. And you may forgive yourself for one bad day in order to move on. Also, be willing to modify as necessary. A goal is not written in stone. Try to avoid the all or nothing mindset. Compromise on the scope or speed of the project if necessary. Think about it. Achieving part of a goal (or releasing perfection) is better than nothing. There is more respect in modifying than in giving up!!
5) Lastly, try to create a maintenance plan. At some point, hopefully, the goal is achieved. Celebrate but don’t become lax. Because what will happen? The gains will be lost and you will feel worse about yourself than before you began. How to maintain the uncluttered space? Ideally, good habits were formed in the process of achieving the goal. Remember to revisit the original motivating ideas. Confirm how good you feel about yourself for achieving the goal. Continue to follow the new habits. Pick up one area every day. Continue to keep keys in one location. Periodically check in with your support buddy. If the goal was worth doing then it is worth maintaining.
In summary, the New Year is a great opportunity to plan a resolution. The increased daylight and energy will augment your efforts. You are the only one who can make a positive change for yourself. Aren’t you worthy of positive things? And, of course, if you need extra motivation to stay the course - give us a call!
Use the New Year’s wave of energy to organize your space. People have done it for many years as they set New Year’s resolutions, gathered paperwork for taxes or simply celebrated a fresh start by doing something out of the ordinary. As the days begin to lengthen and the sunlight grows stronger take advantage of this natural increase in energy. What can you do? What would make you happy? Want to have all the holiday decorations put away? Want a decluttered purse? Want to be free of an overstuffed inbox? Want a cleared countertop? Want to stop misplacing your cell phone? Ready to clean a closet? Ready to clean a shelf in a closet? What improvement would make your space more comfortable, less cluttered, more energetic or more calm? Opportunities abound from small areas to larger longer range projects. However, I advise starting with a small area in order to achieve quick success. Choose a task that will make a noticeable difference once completed. A psychological perk is that small successes build confidence to do more. Don’t wallow in crafting a major plan or agonize over choosing the best place to start. If I asked you to think about a small organizational project that would make your life better – what would you answer in two seconds or fewer? Select a finite task that will make an impact but will also be doable and realistic. Imagine how good you will feel once it is done. Then get started.
Here are some ideas:
- declutter one kitchen drawer, get rid of the unnecessary things
- select five items from your closet that you never wear, donate them
- pair up the socks in one drawer, say good-bye to the singles
- reduce a stack of magazines by half, recycle the oldest ones
- put away unused items from a kitchen counter
- clean out the trash in your car, organize the remaining items
- sort through linens and toss the oldest that are no longer used
Resolve to complete your one selected task today. What could be better than the satisfaction of having already accomplished a New Year’s Resolution?
Carol Martin-Ward, encouraging practical ideas for easy organizing