By Susan Layden,  Owner, SOS
By Susan Layden,
Susan’s Organizing Solutions

With the start of each new year people set resolutions or goals about one thing or another or even multiple goals, but for most of us, it seems they have gone by the wayside within a few weeks. We all know that one of the keys to achieving success with these goals is that they are specific, measureable and actionable. However, that is where the whole thing seems to break down. I think people often set goals that are too broad or too far-reaching. Therefore, within a short time, if it is taking too long or it is too difficult for them, at this stage of the game they just give up. It is an all or none attitude.

My feeling is that one needs to start small. You might have multiple goals to lose weight and get in better shape or to get organized or to increase a sales goal – whatever. But if you want to achieve those goals you need to break it down into smaller, more achievable steps. If you want to lose weight and get in shape, for example, then set a goal of walking every day or every other day for 15-30 minutes at a quick pace. Some days you may do 15 minutes and other days you may walk an hour. If you miss a couple of days, so what, get back on track and walk as much as you can, vary your pace, but do it. The important thing is to not give up on your goals and to continue moving forward. Add other small steps like cutting back on sugary sodas, juices, beer and wine. Be a label reader and know what is going into your body. Eventually you will take off 5 pounds or more and you will be healthier overall. This should be celebrated and should be the catalyst to continue on this path to lose more unwanted pounds. The most important thing is to continue doing positive things to achieve your goal in small increments. Just keep doing those positive steps. Reward yourself with how your clothes feel looser, or you generally look and feel better or get a pedicure or share your success with a friend.

I view “getting organized” a little like losing weight, but in this instance, you are losing the weight of unnecessary items or papers that are bogging you down, taking up space in your home or your office and generally keeping you from a more peaceful and productive life. Think of all the times you have thought, “I know it is here somewhere” or “I’m so overwhelmed I just don’t know where to start”. Well, take the time to think what it is that needs to be cleared up, sorted and organized, disposed of, etc. What areas or categories are causing you angst? The place to start can be what you consider the smallest and easiest to tackle so that you have a quick victory to give you forward momentum. Or you can choose to “take a bite of the elephant” and work on that which would give you the greatest relief, if it were organized, as you would like. The important thing is to start and don’t give up. I tell my clients that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. And so it goes, start with one pile, one drawer, one box, one closet, one shelf, wherever you choose, but just start. Finish that and then move on to next pile, drawer, box, closet, shelf. It will get worse before it gets better and you will likely make a lot of comments like, “So that’s where that is” or “I knew I had that somewhere” or “Now why have I hung on to this”?

The best way to begin is to actually schedule some time in your calendar. You need to treat this just like a doctor or hair appointment. Commit to the process. You don’t need to focus on everything that needs to be organized. Just focus on the area that you have decided to handle first. If you look at everything that needs to be done, it puts a lot of pressure on you and that is where the overwhelm and bad feelings about yourself begin. Keep things simple by starting with one thing and sticking with it. This will reduce your stress. Every time you spend time on your project give yourself a pat on the back. Years ago I had a boss who told me, “Susan, look at yourself in the mirror every day and pat yourself on the back because it is likely that you are the only one who will”. That has stuck with me over the years and has been a real motivator for me to celebrate all of my victories whether large or small.

So, your overall goal may be to go through your clothes and get your closet organized or to get your paper piles under control and have an organized office, but the short of it is that those big goals will be accomplished one step at a time over a period of days or weeks. Committing to the time in the process is what will make the difference. You can do this!