It’s hard to keep our New Year’s resolutions. In fact, now that it’s the end of January those New Year’s resolutions may already be in the review mirror. Was one of those resolutions to get organized and stay organized? There’s a lot we pack into each year, and for that reason a nebulous goal of “getting organized and staying organized” may be hard to achieve. Don’t give up! Here are some smaller goals that are easy to achieve that will help you reach that ultimate goal of being organized.
Goal 1. Categorize your stuff. Categorization allows you to concentrate on each group separately. These categories should include things we must keep such as: tax forms, bank statements, and home records. Other categories can be things we like: books, clothing, cables, and gadgets. Categories can even be more specific, if you have a hobby hoarding problem. Puzzles, board games, photo albums, and sports equipment are all examples of things that can easily build up in your home. If you notice anything taking up too much space, it needs a category of its own.
Goal 2. Box it up if it’s not your everyday stuff. One key step on the road to an organized life is to get your stuff into storage boxes. Label the boxes by category and sort your belongings into the appropriate box so you can find things at any time. Date the boxes. Dating storage boxes is handy for many reasons. For dated documents it lets you know when you can destroy them. For family photos and heirlooms it gives you an archival date of when these things were last viewed. For other items, if the box remains sealed after a year it may be a signal that you don’t really need that stuff and should let it go. One extra step to take with breakables — include a bold “fragile” warning so you will handle those boxes with care.
Goal 3. Throw it out or donate it. Donating is the easiest way to separate yourself from your stuff without actually throwing it away. This may also ease separation anxiety from your stuff because you can feel good about helping others. Take your stuff to the local Salvation Army or Value Village. Or, if there is a cause you’re passionate about these organizations will often take some of your things. A quick web search will turn up a few local options if you want to help in a more-specific way. If it’s not worth donating call it what it is, garbage. Throw it out.
Ready to start on the path to a more organized life? Whether you choose to do one step or all three, whether you do the steps in a weekend, a week or a month just stick with it and you’ll find your efforts will make a difference in your overall organization.
— Tamara Traub