I absolutely love the beginning of a new year – there are so many possibilities – and the feeling of freshness just radiates from that first clean calendar page. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I know that many of you resolved to get organized in 2011. Here are some tips to help you get the results you want:
Keep track of your To-Dos
Getting those to-do items out of your head and onto paper is a great way to feel in control. Trouble is, if you’ve got multiple lists going you have to check multiple places to make sure you covered everything. I strongly believe in having all your to-dos consolidated in one master list – whether it’s set up digitally (there are some great Apps like Remember The Milk
, but a running Word doc would also work), or manually (in ONE notebook - perhaps with dividers/sections for the areas of your life that require to-do lists).
The trick is to find the format that works for you. I go manual because I love the physical act of crossing something off my list. Deleting from a Word doc simply doesn’t give me the same satisfaction. Plus, when an item is erased, it’s gone forever – but when it’s crossed off, you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished.
A master list is a great source of information, but overwhelming if you want to use it for the day-to-day. That’s where the daily sticky-note comes in. Each evening, plan for tomorrow. Using a combination of deadlines and general whim, peruse the larger list and decide what will get done the next day. That gets listed on the sticky, stuck to the master notebook, and thrown out at the end of each day. Then make your master list cross-outs for the day, and plan for tomorrow. Something you didn’t get to today? That’s OK, it can move to tomorrow’s sticky. Find yourself with extra time? Peruse the master for a task to fill the hour.
Keep a Calendar
It’s is a remarkable tool really — when kept up to date, your calendar tells you what’s happening today and what you’ve got coming up a week, a month, a year from now. When kept in a central location, it let’s your family know where you’re going to be and when. It tells you about your responsibilities, but it also tells you the fun stuff that you have to look forward to (to reward you for living up to those responsibilities). In an age where it seems everyone has a SmartPhone, I’m a big proponent of keeping your calendar digitally. Why?
Keep the Clutter Under Control
- Software such as Outlook and iCal (as well as online/sharing options like GoogleCalendar) allow you set up multiple calendars (home, work, birthdays, travel, holidays, etc.), each assigned a different color making it visually clear which projects should be prioritized on a specific day.
- These programs make it easy to remember an occasion – set up birthdays and anniversaries to repeat every year. If it’s a date that’s really important, set an alarm (set it a few days in advance — it’s a good reminder to drop the card in the mail).
- Want to know what date Memorial Day will fall on in 2012? How about game days for your favorite sports team? There’s a subscription calendar for that! Whether you use iCal or Outlook, you can subscribe to an internet calendar that will import that information directly to the calendar you use everyday.
- It’s automatically backed up – because you sync your SmartPhone to a computer, your calendar exists in more than one place. If you lost your paper datebook, are you confident you could re-create it?
Ben Franklin said it best – “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Keep clutter at bay by assigning a home for the things that you own. Some homes are easy to define – clothing belongs in a dresser or closet, food items belong in a pantry or a refrigerator. But what about things that aren’t so clear-cut? The idea is to store like-items together and to store them where you’re most likely to use them. Usually charge your electronic devices on a table in your entryway? Use a drawer or decorative box on that table to house the cables. Always looking for a pair of scissors when you’re wrapping a gift? Store an extra pair with the rest of your gift-wrapping supplies. Make a concerted effort to put things away in their assigned home – not only will you know where it is when you need it, but you’ll be able to tell someone else where to find it!
Keep at it!
Remember that getting organized is not a task you complete once and cross off your to-do list. It is a process of adopting habits and keeping with them. But keep at it long enough, and these routines will stop feeling like work – and you’ll be able to confidently say that you’ve met the challenge of your New Year’s Resolution.
Dayna Brandoff is the founder of Chaos Theory Inc., a professional organizing company located in New York City. For further organizing tips or hands-on help, visit www.ChaosTheoryNYC.com or call (917) 576-1267.