This Is The Year
By Kathy Braud
As the wave of New Year celebrations travels around the globe this time of year, millions of people are reflecting on the changes they want to make in their lives. January 1 represents a fresh start, a clean slate.
What began as a tradition of performing simple good deeds, modern-day New Year’s resolutions often involve behavior modification—or a lifestyle change—to achieve a healthier, more peaceful, “balanced” life. New habits require commitment. So, instead of creating a list, why not start with just ONE that is truly attainable and will make you happy. Establishing a timeline for achieving your goal or “resolution” will help prevent what often occurs around the second month: self-sabotage. Only eight percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. A goal with no deadline usually never gets accomplished.
One of the most common New Year resolutions is, “I have to get organized!” It’s second only to, “I have to lose weight.” Many people think that “getting organized” or “being organized” requires a huge time investment, as well as tackling complicated tasks.
Maybe you’re organizationally-challenged or you lack time management skills. It doesn’t really matter. You just want it to change, right? If so, let me give you some great advice. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are a series of steps that anyone can incorporate into their lives, regardless of their lifestyle. Simply make the choice to start. Integrate one organizing plan at a time. For example, start with your email inbox, your bill paying system, or daily mail sorting.
Paperwork or clutter?
First, organize on your own terms; don’t just go out and buy a bunch of containers and then throw all your stuff in them: that’s a short-term, “Band-aid” solution. Second, think about when and where you use things the most; then place the items accordingly. Third, if re-arranging things affects others, let them assist you in the planning phase of your new and organized life.
As a professional organizer, I know that a cluttered environment contributes to our already cluttered minds. The more tasks and information that we try to absorb and process, the more clutter we accumulate—literally and figuratively speaking. Disorganization can cause, among other things, arguments, frustration, lost opportunities, embarrassment, and stress. You can’t find things when you need them. The list of negative results from disorganization is sad and long. However, when your life is organized, you can have a life that is free of clutter and stress and full of time for the people and things you love.
If you suffer from a common phenomenon known as “C.H.A.O.S.” (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), like thousands of other readers, you’re most likely overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Here’s a trick that has worked wonders for many clients:
- Pick the room (or closet/area/project) that causes the most frustration.
- Set the timer for 15 minutes (or longer if you’re feeling ambitious).
- Sort into pre-labeled bins and toss as much as you can until the timer goes off. Do this every day, if possible, or until you feel it’s under control.
Lessons learned—the hard way.
If I had to choose one piece of advice to share with my clients—especially here in Louisiana—it would be this: Be prepared before the next disaster. Compared to every other item on your To Do list, consider these questions:
- If you had only a few moments to evacuate your home or business—and were away for several days or even weeks—would you have access to cash, banking services, and the personal information you need to conduct your day-to-day life?
- What would you take with you, and how accessible are those items?
- When was the last time you couldn’t find an important paper you knew you had carefully put away someplace?
- How much time do you spend trying to straighten out your household business affairs, especially at income tax time?
Hundreds of thousands of individuals, families, and businesses lose invaluable and irreplaceable items, including vital records required for everyday purposes, such as medical, educational, financial, military, and, in some cases, life and death situations. Everyone who resides in coastal Louisiana should have an emergency kit in their possession in preparation for the next emergency. As we have learned from such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina, we can no longer take the stance of “if another big storm hits.” We must be prepared for when the next storm hits. Just ask my neighbors who lost their home and everything in it because of Hurricane Katrina or the thousands of businesses that never re-opened after Hurricane Gustav.
For a complete list of supplies recommended by FEMA for your Emergency Supply Kit, see ready.gov. As previously mentioned, the kit should also include such vital family documents that require safekeeping such as proof of identity, ownership, and medical records. These should all be kept in a waterproof, portable container.
While photographs and personal belongings do not fall into the category of “vital records,” they too should be stored in a waterproof, portable container alongside the Emergency Supply Kit.
In addition to the original documents, it is highly recommended that all vital records be scanned and/or placed on a flash drive in the event the originals are misplaced or destroyed. If possible, either the originals or the backup/flash drive should be placed in a safe deposit box at your local bank.
The bottom line.
Whether your New Year’s resolution is as enviable as using all of your vacation time or as tedious as getting out of debt, my advice to you is still the same: get your house in order first. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone to another accomplishment. You’ll have less “mind clutter” when tackling other goals, knowing that you’ve accomplished what is arguably the highest priority for you and your family: security in the storm.