Happy New Year! Each year brings the possibility of change. Even though we can make changes at any point in the year, each January we start out the year with a list of good intentions.

Yet, 30 days later, most of our well-laid plans for change have been set aside. We try to make too many big changes in a short amount of time. We get a good start, life interrupts, and we throw up our hands: “I give up! I just can’t __________!”

This year instead of taking on a huge self-improvement program, develop just one of the following habits to become more organized:

• Deal with mail each day. Whether it’s email or snail mail, at least 50% of it is junk. Open the mail, toss the envelopes and inserts, and move the important information to the appropriate place. Don’t make a shredding pile; shred as you go. With email, delete things you know you won’t read. Better yet, opt out of subscriptions and mailing lists. Mail is a task if you take care of it daily. Don’t make it a project.

• At the end of the day, make sure your toys are put away. Don’t start the day with a mess. Your brain (whether consciously or unconsciously) slows down because clutter is overwhelming. It’s okay to make messes during the day (you should see my office!), but things need to be put away by the end of each day.

• Never leave a room empty-handed. Put things away throughout the day. When going to the kitchen for a (healthy!) snack, put that receipt in your office. On the way to the car, drop the used magazines in the recycling bin. Teach your kids to do this. It will make clean-up easier later.

• Don’t put empty milk cartons back in the refrigerator. Like the careless teenager, we come across things we no longer like, need, or use, and we just put them back! This year designate a bag or box for donation. The next time you try on the pants that have never fit right, let them go. You won’t miss them. This principle also works in the kitchen (food and cooking items), office (pens, outdated supplies), and children’s rooms (toys, clothes, craft/sports items). When the bag is full, take it to your favorite charity.

• A few nice things are better than a whole house (or office) full of “just okay.” Quality is always better than quantity. Let go of the décor that doesn’t reflect who you are or the appliances you never use. Donate the books you don’t read (or the video tapes). Surround yourself only with items you truly like (or love) and use.

• Flat surfaces are not for storage. Yes, I know you think you need to leave it out to remember it, but does that really work? Usually people end up piling more things around the item, ignoring it. Leaving items out does not get tasks accomplished. Note the task in your planner, then put the item in a place that makes sense. Flat surfaces are areas for work, places to display a few special items, or simply places to rest your eyes. Stop piling things there.

So, are you ready to be more organized in 2010? Develop one of these habits for the next few weeks. Once it becomes a habit, add another. Remember, you are learning a new skill, so expect it to take some time. It will get easier. Celebrate your successes, and let me know how things are going. I’d love to cheer you on.

Get organized this year with one new habit. You’ll be glad you did.

© Renee Ursem, 2010

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and Consultant, is the owner of Get It Together, LLC, offering clients in Las Vegas and surrounding areas simple, practical solutions to organizational challenges. She can be reached at www.get-it-together-llc.com and is on Facebook and Linkedin.