New Years: A Good Day To Start Getting Organized

By Shara Koplowitz

New Years: A Good Day To Start Getting Organized

Happy New Year!

Many people begin the New Year with resolutions. I am one of them. I like the idea of being able to start fresh with a built-in system to count the days of success.

I imagine “Getting Organized” is a popular resolution and probably means a variety of things to different people. To me, Being Organized means:

  • Always being able to find what I am looking for
  • A permanent place for everything I own in my home
  • The ability to clean up quickly

These 3 simple things took me many years to master. I have had ADD all my life and being organized was always just out of my reach. I have figured out the systems that work specifically for me through many trials and many errors. So, for those who intend to get organized in 2013, I say congratulations and don’t give up.

How To Start Getting Organized

Plan: Like most things, Getting Organized should start with a plan. I recommend asking yourself what “Organized” means and looks like to you. If you have tried before, ask yourself what didn’t work the last time. Also, see if there’s any area in your life that is consistently organized and figure out why you are able to maintain it.

Decide: Whether you are organizing a closet or an entire room, decide what the function of that room or object is and stick to it. If the “To File” folder on your desk starts to build up with unopened mail and receipts, then your file is no longer serving its purpose. I recommend taking the time to create a file for receipts and another few minutes to create a separate area for your mail—then you create a place for your incoming items, your mail and your receipts.

Start With: I advise getting started with the area that is bothering you the most. If you are frustrated with never being able to find something in particular, identify a space for that item, label it and always replace that item to that spot after you use it. This is organizing.

I used to go nuts when I needed to mail something and could not find the stamps I had just bought. Knowing that they were somewhere, I would tear my desk, bedroom and purse apart looking for them. I usually ended up running out and buying more stamps and then finding the original purchase days later in a place that I thought I would remember putting them. Today, I know stamps are in my desk drawer in the desk divider in the section labeled stamps. The excess time, energy and money I spent in the past is now used for other more useful things.

Buy What You Need: There is an element of excitement to getting organized. I remember how much I loved buying school supplies for the first day of class, laying them all out and carefully organizing them. That was always the best part of starting a new school year for me.

Buying organizing supplies can be a very similar experience. I used to make the mistake of running out and buying a ton of containers because I was so excited to get started. I suggest waiting, as difficult as it may be, until you have sorted through your things and have decided what you want to keep, toss, donate and sell before buying anything. This way allows you to clear out the things that you no longer need and will give you a better sense of the space and the products you will need to house your stuff.  Often a shelf full of sweaters becomes a manageable collection of 5 items and no longer requires that much room.

Let Go: Sorting and letting go of things can be the hardest part for some people. I know I hold onto things for a variety of reasons and ultimately I have to make the hard decisions when it comes to getting rid of items that either have sentimental value or I think I will need down the line. I think it’s my ADD that has me convinced that I will eventually use every scrap of ribbon or fabric I come across—and I never do.

Divide and Conquer: The next little piece of insight I can offer is to focus on a little bit at a time. Rather than thinking about the huge project ahead, break the project up into manageable tasks. For instance, if you want to organize your bedroom, you might consider going through one area such as your drawers one day and then moving to your closet another day.

Organizing requires physical and mental strength and it can get overwhelming and really exhausting. It’s like losing weight, it’s more important to do it the healthy way over time than quickly if you want to maintain the results.

Organizing is a general term that means something different to everyone.  There is not one correct way, system, approach or answer to getting and staying organized.  There are however methods that have worked for others in the past that may work for you too.  It may take trying a few of these methods before you find your way.  Try not to get frustrated and pay attention to what you may be learning about yourself in the process.

When I realized that I will never be able to keep things sorted the right way if I use the wrong type or size container, I wanted to figure out why (Today I know that anything I use for clothing cannot have a lid because I will throw things on top of the lid rather than take the extra 2 seconds to lift it up and replace it when I’m done.  It sounds silly, but that little lesson has kept my bedroom and bathroom clean for years).  I started to ask questions and researched attention disorders and I realized I had ADD all my life.  This knowledge actually came with some relief.  By identifying and addressing the issue, I have been able to find the right solutions for me and I am more productive then I have ever been before.

The New Year has begun and I am going to work hard on my resolutions.  I wish you a happy and healthy one and hope you remember that every little bit counts.



Author: Shara Koplowitz

Date Published: January 2, 2013