We’re midway through January now and this is usually the time many New Years resolutions have petered out. But why is that? We all start them with the best of intentions. We really do want to get in shape, read more, and get organized. But in order to do these things, we need more than the ideal in our heads. We need reasonable, attainable steps and the willingness to complete them.
What is it you want to accomplish? Getting in the habit of planning your meals for the week? Making it to your appointments on time? Clearing out the clutter in your closets? Great! It won’t happen overnight. Whatever your resolution is (or was), it’s not too late. Pick a manageable number of times to try it (Hanne Blank, author of “The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise & Other Incendiary Acts” recommends 100 days) and let it take hold before you give up.
For example: If you want your desk to be more organized so you’re more productive and less frazzled, start small and work your way up. Give yourself 100 tries and you'll make a difference.
Start: Pick one section of the desk- a drawer or inbox, it really doesn’t matter. Just getting started is the main thing. If starting with the smallest, easiest section is what works for you, go for it! Once you have one section down, move on to the next.
Remove: Take everything out of that designated section. Sort out the things you don’t need, use, or love and either recycle them or throw them away. Or give them to someone who can really use them.
Sort: With the remaining items, put similar things together. All office supplies should be in one place, customer paperwork should be together, etc. You will likely find subcategories are helpful, but be careful not to fall too deep into that rabbit hole. For example, file categories don’t need to be so specific that a folder only has one piece of paper.
Assign Homes: Put these newfound categories in homes where they will stay and are easy to access. Things you use often (perhaps pens or printer paper) should be close at hand, things you use rarely (maybe certain books or files) can be further away or even in another room. Current projects go where they’re visible and quickly completed and they need designated homes when they turn into completed projects.
Practice: When you use things at your desk, put them back in their new homes when you’re done with them. You don’t have to do it perfectly all the time, but taking 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to put things back will save you time and headaches at the end of the week (or month) and keep them from piling up again.
Not all of this has to be done on every part of your desk (or whatever space you’re organizing) the first day. If you do some of it each day for 100 days, you’ll see something change. Getting things sorted and into their homes won’t take as long as 100 days, but building the habit of keeping them there can. You’re free to adjust things however you see fit as you play-test the new setup. If it’s a goal you truly want, give yourself the gift of devoting the time to try it out.