How to Keep a New Year's Resolution to Stay Organized

New Year MarkAnthony Ball January 1, 2024

Start With the Mental

The initial step toward a successful resolution takes place before you even tackle a single drawer, and it originates in your mindset. According to Holly Blakey, the founder and owner of Breathing Room Organization, even a seemingly straightforward change can yield significant results. Blakey emphasizes the substantial role of the mental aspect in organization, drawing a parallel with the practice of making the bed in the morning. She notes that the energy and mindfulness upon returning home are greatly enhanced when the bed is made.

One of the primary motivations behind the desire for organization is to attain a sense of peace. Blakey observes, "We're all looking for space and levity and lightness, and our environment really has a lot to do with that." She emphasizes that achieving this can take different forms, such as a more minimalist space or functional and efficient systems. The visual aesthetics matter less than finding a system that works, whether it involves getting kids out the door or establishing a nighttime routine. Blakey stresses the importance of individuals identifying what brings them the desired sense of space and lightness.

Frustrating Parts Go First

Residing in a state of disorganized chaos can be not only vexing but also increase anxiety as you grapple with locating items and tidying up. No one wishes to associate their home with negative emotions, and often, the aspiration to cultivate peace and serenity can be a hurdle to initiation. Meg Markland from Houston’s "Neat by Meg" advises that when a client is uncertain about organizing their entire home and is unsure of where to commence, she initiates the process by asking, "What frustrates or overwhelms you the most?" This becomes the starting point, as addressing the primary source of frustration kickstarts the organizing process. Markland highlights that organization not only saves time and money but, once its benefits are realized, tackling subsequent projects becomes more manageable.

Consider Your Needs

When envisioning the systems required to simplify your home and life, take into account the specific needs of your family. According to Laura Cattano from Organizational Design, consider how you genuinely want to inhabit your home, the activities you intend the space to facilitate, and the desired atmosphere. Use this as a foundation for deciding what items to retain or eliminate. Cattano emphasizes that this approach holds more significance than the conventional advice of discarding items unused for a year. Understanding why certain items haven't been used helps prevent unnecessary future purchases.

Tackle Small Batches

Having a clear vision of what "organized" means for your family and lifestyle, it's time to embark on the process. However, the experts advise against attempting to tackle everything simultaneously. Joanna Wirick of Joanna Organize recommends focusing on a specific space or habit for transformation. Whether it's organizing the kitchen or establishing a routine for tidying up common areas daily, creating a plan with set deadlines is crucial. Quarterly goals/resolutions, being time-bound, offer flexibility, according to Wirick.

Shira Gill, an organizer and author of Minimalista, advocates for starting small to build confidence and strengthen resolve. Gill suggests achieving numerous small victories is more beneficial than taking on too much at once and accomplishing nothing. She advises dedicating just 15 minutes a day to a project for 30 days. Witnessing the positive outcomes may motivate you to tackle more extensive tasks.

Gill further emphasizes the importance of gradual progress by recommending a room-by-room approach. Instead of overwhelming yourself by jumping from one room to another, she suggests planning to organize one specific area each month. For instance, focus on the home office in January, the bedroom in February, and so on. This way, you have a structured plan to address every area without attempting to manage everything simultaneously.

Plan for a Weekly Reset

At times, despite sincere intentions and diligent preparation, life's demands can disrupt the establishment of new organizational habits. When you observe the resurgence of clutter and disorganization, how do you address it? Louisa Roberts of NEAT Method New York City reassures that this is a completely normal occurrence, emphasizing that even impeccably organized spaces necessitate ongoing maintenance. She recommends setting aside a weekly "reset" time—whether it involves sorting through mail, rearranging your T-shirt drawer, or discarding expired items from the refrigerator. Devoting a brief 15 minutes to refresh the space proves to be rewarding and is a crucial step in regaining momentum.

Erica Thompson of Organization by Design emphasizes that resetting your resolution is not a failure. If you find yourself reverting to old disorganized habits, Thompson advises granting yourself grace. She suggests evaluating whether any life circumstances are triggering the return to former cluttered routines. Importantly, she reminds individuals that organizational success is not a black-and-white concept; it fluctuates, and the process is ongoing.

To rekindle your motivation, mentally revisit the commencement of your organizational journey. According to Blakey, reminding yourself of the underlying reasons for the need to get organized, such as chaotic mornings or challenges in managing work, can provide the impetus to resume the journey. Recognizing that organization is a fluid concept, with periods of greater and lesser orderliness, is essential for maintaining a balanced and ongoing process.

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