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Get organized for the new year

A cluttered photographer's studio
A cluttered photographer's studio
LC Handy

Last year, I wrote about how you need to develop good habits in order to keep your new year's resolutions. Being in the habit of doing something means you don't have to work so hard to remember it.

How are the resolutions going so far this year?

If you chose to get more organized as one of your resolutions, you'll do better if you select specific and measurable goals. If you just think, "I'll be more organized," your brain will ping pong around trying to figure out what that means and how to know whether it's been accomplished.

Also, if getting organized has been on your list for many years, you'll have a backlog of unsuccessful attempts that you're dragging forward with you, even if you aren't completely conscious of it.

So, pick a few simple, well-defined goals. Start with only three if your life is fairly busy. No need to overload yourself, especially at the beginning of the year! If you think of more, write them down and stash them somewhere for later in the year.

Here are some examples:

Sort mail daily
Depending on where you are with this, your goal could be to get rid of the junk and pay your bills on time. If you're further along, it could be to take regular time to handle the action items you receive so mail decisions don't pile up.

Daily tidy up
The vast majority of clutter comes from things someone sets down "just for now." Granted, it's not always possible to put something in it's spot the moment you're done with it. But this kind of clutter gets out of control fast. If you spend just 5-10 minutes a day, after dinner for example, you can keep clutter at bay.

Keep donations cycling out
Put a grocery bag in your closet labeled "donate." The moment you come across a garment you don't want anymore, toss it right in the bag. When the bag is full, take it to the donation center of your choice. Then get a new bag.

This method connects decision making to action. Too often, people know there are clothes in the closet they want to get rid of, but that action gets put off and they forget, or think of some reason they can't do it now.

These three ideas will get you more organized, guaranteed. They aren't difficult or time consuming. Enlist a buddy to help you stay on track, or hire an organizer to set up simple systems for you. Make 2014 a more organized, happier year.

For more tips on getting the most out of your new year's resolution, read my blog post here.