I spend my days in the messy closets, offices and homes of New Jersey’s most cluttered residents. My busiest time of year is late January when most people have abandoned their champagne-toasted resolutions and accepted the fact that quick fixes do not work. Old comfortable habits slowly creep back in and are welcomed back like long-lost friends returning from an extended vacation.
esolution breakers quickly learn the first and most important rule of organizing. Organizing is not a “one and done” proposition, but rather an ongoing process that requires every day maintenance.
Try thinking about organizing as a daily routine, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly or walking your dog. Studies have shown that good habits can be created in as little as four weeks, so you still have plenty of time to get your 2016 self in order. With a good plan and a little dedication, you’ll be on the road to organization in no time. Here are my best practices to get you started, no resolutions required.
Don’t wait for perfect conditions to exist to begin. Many people convince themselves that January 1, a weekend or a lunar eclipse is the only time to start. They fool themselves into thinking that only the perfect conditions will ensure their success. Don’t overthink it and talk yourself out of it, today is the perfect time to kick off your journey.
Release the outcome
Terri of West New York has been chronically cluttered for many years. “The place is such a mess, I don’t think I will ever finish,” she laments in our phone consultation. I find this sense of paralysis to be common with clients. They are dealing with their emotions about the task, rather than facing the task at hand. Attempt to remove your judgment from the organizing space and instead engage in positive action. I guarantee the latter will get you faster to your goal.
There is no overnight solution
Creating clutter is not something that happened overnight, nor will it go away overnight either. Understanding that the progress lies in making subtle changes every day is a big step in the right direction. Think “daily routine,” rather than “instant makeover” and getting organized becomes more attainable.
Practice makes permanent
Concert pianists and Olympic athletes are two good examples of how good habits or ritual can create positive change. Robert of Hoboken, a high-paced realtor, uses the last fifteen minutes of each day to ready his desk for the next day. He tells me the best way to be prepared is to leave your desk in order, “even if it is ordered piles.” This ritual helps him focus on his work, instead of wasting time looking for misplaced paperwork. Think of small changes like this that you can institute in your daily life.
Before you run out to The Container Store to purchase organizing boxes and baskets, edit your possessions first. There is no reason to buy a box for files you no longer need or space-saving hangers for clothes you will never wear. Make this trip a celebration of the hard work that you’ve done, rather than a prerequisite for success. My client Kristen in Westfield bought so many supplies that we spent the first hour of our session organizing her returns to Target. Purge first, purchase later.
Setbacks happen to good people
Don’t let a little setback derail you from achieving your goal. Breene of Summit told me that “Getting organized is easier with a plan and even though I can get lazy at times, I don’t let it stop me. I know that I can get right back on track quickly, simply because I know where everything goes.” Remember that the ups will eventually outnumber the downs.
About the author: Mary Carlomagno is an author, speaker and organizer living in suburban New Jersey. Her company order (orderperiod.com) helps busy people create beautifully organized spaces. She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and National Public Radio.