new years resolution get organized

New Year’s Resolution – Get Organized – Here’s How!

It’s a new year and, if you’re like most people, you’re already compiling your long lists of things to do, stuff to change, pounds to drop and things to get organized. It can be overwhelming really, but only if we let it. You can let yourself off the hook and go the traditional route by only picking one thing, or start off the year with a range of goals to improve your life, home, health and more. “Organize my house” is too general, although it’s fine to think big. You need a plan. Get granular, get focused and enjoy the benefits of your planning and labor in the days, months and years to come.

Making changes really involves three basic steps, assessing, planning, and implementing. Here are a few tips to help manage your program for change as you enter the new year:


  1. Let your mind roam free and jot down all the things you want to change – in no particular order. Don’t get stressed as you do it. Just consider the things in your life you feel need improvement and the things you would like to be different, more efficient, or better in some way. Keep writing, take a break, and come back to it later if you need to. You can journal, write sentences, draw pictures. Don’t judge it. Just let it flow. Later, you can refine and consolidate your ideas into words, concepts and projects and arrange them in a list format.
  1. Now go through your words, concepts and projects list and organize them into categories that make sense to you. You can even cut out the words and arrange them on a separate paper. Sticky notes are another way to make your ideas positionable. Save space to fill in sub-categories. Example, if one of your items was “make more space,” you could have subcategories with rooms to purge, declutter and organize. “Improve health” might include things like “exercise routine” and “prepare healthy food at home.”
  1. Once you have your main and subcategories written, rank them by importance. What needs to be done most? What is interfering most with your happiness? Your efficiency? This is not a high-stress task, or intended to make you worry. There’s no pressure. Remember, you have, not only the forthcoming months but your whole life to complete things. Today, you are just planning and prioritizing. Clearly mark your priorities with bold numbers. You might even use colors that you associate with your priorities.


  1. Set some small goals. Set some big goals too, if you feel ambitious. But don’t overwhelm yourself. You can do a little each day. Set two hours aside on Saturdays or Sundays; spend a half hour completing some task each morning before work. You get the idea! You want to plan enough to get you started in implementing meaningful changes but not set the bar too high, so you feel defeated and overwhelmed. If you have your list planned, it will always be there for you, and that is the first important step.
  1. If organizing is a top priority, make a plan for how you do it. Do you need to get rid of things? Then plan a couple of hours to sort, bag and toss, and have some bags handy. Organizing by room is a great idea. Why not make a list with goals for each room. If you work on a room a week, it won’t feel overwhelming. Short on time? Then do one room per month. And if you don’t complete it, don’t beat yourself up. It will still be there next month. If you’re really short on time, divide your room organizing into micro-tasks. Example: clean out the desk one drawer at a time, then move onto the filing cabinet. Breaking down projects into smaller tasks will incrementally get you organized, while giving you a forward-moving sense of satisfaction. However you choose to organize your rooms, it’s remember that having a concrete goal is better than a nebulous one and a “feeling” that you’d like things to change. Try to be as detailed as you can in your planning. Be flexible though, and allow for adjustments. Trust me, vagueness is NOT conducive to getting things done.
  1. If you don’t quite know where to start with organizing, we have tons of articles on our blogs including Organize-It Blog, Ask Our Organizer and the Clutter Control Freak Blog (which has over 1000 articles). Blog posts include methods, tips and even products for getting you organized. If you feel really stumped about a particular organizing challenge, feel free to Ask Our Organizer. It’s a free service and Harriet Schechter (a professional organizer and author) usually gets back to you really quickly. Professional organizer, Donna Lindley recommends sharing some of your goals with others as a way of building accountability. Read her 2012 New Year’s post here.
  1. Time management is usually something that springs to mind each new year as we assess our lives and strive to do better. For most of us, lack of time is the major impediment to getting organized. Planning your tasks in a day planner is a great way to keep yourself on track – yes – the old-fashioned paper kind are great, and you won’t lose them when your laptop takes a dump. It will all be there for you to pick up, cross off, add onto, or ponder while you watch TV at night.


  1. Get going on your tasks and be sure to reward yourself as you complete them. Of course, the improvement in your life, room, health, etc. is a reward in itself, but don’t be afraid to indulge yourself in some small way. That could be a treat, a cup of tea, a dinner, a massage, or a family activity after you’ve completed a project.
  1. Don’t be afraid to include family members or roommates in the work, doing tasks you have agreed on. If you have kids, you’ll be doing them a great service by teaching them organizing skills and good habits when they’re young.
  1. Try to be consistent about the changes you make. Forming positive habits is part of the resolution and change you bargained for early on with your pencils, pads and planners. If you need to go back to them and add “daily” or “weekly routines” to keep things in order, by all means do so.
  1. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get everything done on schedule. Just keep chipping away at your list and do the best you can, keeping your eye on the future and the better life and habits you’re going to enjoy in the coming year. You’re making changes and that’s the important part, and remember, organizing is a process; it’s holistic; it’s a journey, not a station. Allow for your needs to change as your life unfolds and take periodic assessments to make certain you’re still on the right course.

You also might enjoy the Clutter Control Freak 2017 – Healthy Eating blog post on the blog.