Lisa Hess describes 3 ways to start the year off with projects whose payoff will last longer than a week.
Recently, a friend suggested that writing a post about things to organize in January might be interesting. She, for example, tackles her medicine cabinet every January, tossing expired items and restocking. I, on the other hand, am more likely to tackle that task when I go to add something new and I need to make room, or simply wonder how long a particular item has been in the medicine bin (we don't have a medicine cabinet). My friend is more methodical and consistent, but is she right?
For her family and her styles, yes, she is. Like changing the batteries in the smoke detectors when we change the clocks for Daylight Savings Time, checking a particular space at a particular time is a great habit to get into.
Another great example of this sort of structure is the pins of organizing schedules I find myself drawn to on Pinterest -- the ones that assign an area to each day with a goal of being organized by the end of the month. They're tempting, I must admit, and I'm sure they work well for some. While I find them to be a great starting point, and a really good way to assess areas of need, I need more flexibility.
Let's say the task for Day 3 is to rid my closet of things I no longer wear. That day happens to fall on a Tuesday, but the project is much too time-consuming to fit into a work day, putting me behind schedule on day three. Sure, I can switch to a different task -- one that's a better fit for the day and, if I do, I've reiterated my case for flexibility.
So, in the interest of respecting both routine and flexibility, I thought I'd share my January suggestions in categories, with examples. Here are three January organizing ideas, to help you start the year off with projects whose payoff will resound for longer than a week (yes, I mean you, clear kitchen counter).
Tackle something hidden. I have Barb's medicine cabinet suggestion to thank for this inspiration. Clean out a cabinet or a drawer (or one a day, depending on your schedule) or organize the contacts on your phone or your online passwords. Because these things are tucked away, they're more likely to stay organized than shared spaces and every time you open them or access them, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Tackle something that's been bugging you. For a long time, I had recipes scattered here and tucked away there, a situation that only got worse after my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Last summer, I finally sorted through them all, tossed the ones I knew I'd never use and arranged what was left into a binder (full disclosure: I delegated part of the task to my daughter, who was looking for a project). While cooking is still not my favorite task, it's much more pleasant when I can begin by finding what I need quickly. What's your nagging task? A spot that won't shape up? A pile of papers to file? Block out a time (multiple sessions if necessary) and dig in.
Tackle something small. We all have those little tasks we put off because they aren't squeaky wheels. For me, it's doctor's appointments. I'm quick to make them when I'm sick, but those annual check-ups, the semi-annual visit to the dentist, or the appointment to get my eyes checked? Not so great at that. Carve out half an hour and knock out as many of those phone calls or tiny tasks as you can.
Whether your organizing personality is more structured or flexible, choosing tasks that help you to let go of stuff or items on your to-do list is a great way to start the year off feeling just a little bit lighter -- and maybe jump-start your motivation as well.
About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.