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Guest Post: The Resolution Dilemma

By Sara Skillen, SkillSet Organizing (Owner)

Professional Organizer, Evernote Business Certified Consultant6149830_s

As a professional organizer, I get asked a quite a bit about making the New Year’s resolution to “get organized” or “de-clutter”, and I get a lot of calls for appointments during this season.  Everyone is excited to start fresh and determined to get their spaces and lives under control.  January is even National “Get Organized” Month, sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).  But really, although I’m always on board with helping people achieve goals, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions.  There is a quote I love:

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – Hal Borland

In other words, using the knowledge we gain from all times should help us to improve and continue on our journeys.  Although it’s a nice starting point, there really is nothing magic about January 1 for setting goals.  Additionally, statistics bear out the fact that most resolutions are not achieved or maintained – one source I reviewed for this post indicated that although 45% of Americans generally make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them.  And think about it…in January you can never find a free treadmill at the gym, but by Feb. 15 it’s usually a ghost town.  Sustained effort on new habits can be tough for all of us.

So what gives?  Why bother?  Are resolutions pointless?  I have three ideas to consider:

First off, I think any time is a great time to think about getting organized.  If it’s late March, maybe the weather is perfect for working on the garage (not too hot, not too cold, juuuust right).  If it’s November, getting all of the family paperwork in order might be appropriate.  And maybe you’ll finally get Aunt Marge’s spoon collection (that you inherited but never exactly appreciated) cleaned up and listed on eBay this June.  Thinking of clearing out and organizing as a year-round habit ensures better results than emptying out all the closets the first week of January, only to get discouraged and not ever finish the job.

Secondly (and along those same lines), if getting organized is a goal, be sure that the projects you choose are targeted and approachable.  “Get organized” is too vague (not to mention too HUGE for most people), but “Sort, purge and rearrange my spice rack,” is specific and easier to think through.  For my most overwhelmed clients, I sometimes suggest organizing one small thing each day – sort out the mail, put everything on the calendar for the month, go through one junk drawer, etc.  It helps to reinforce that idea that organizing is not a one-time event, but really a way of living.

Finally, have you ever stopped to think that most any resolution you make requires some level of planning and organization in order to succeed?  What if, instead of thinking of organizing as one of your resolutions, you thought of it as the framework upon which all of your other resolutions and goals needed to be built?  So if your goal is to lose weight, maybe you should organize the pantry and fridge so that they are ready for the healthier food choices you need to make.  If you want to get your personal finances in order, setting up a streamlined, labeled filing system would be a great first step.  Weaving the organization through another worthy resolution can ensure higher achievement for both.

So whether you make those resolutions or not, working for better organization, for more simplified spaces, for less stressful schedules and systems, can always be worthy goals.  If you need a the support, knowledge, and inspiration to get that process started, I’m here to help (, or you can find qualified professional organizers in this area on the NAPO Nashville chapter website.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and organized 2016!

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