Get organized this year and you'll likely decrease your stress.

Manage Stress by Staying Organized

The holidays are finally over – now it’s time to focus on you! You may be overwhelmed just thinking about the added stress of having yet another New Year’s resolution. But have you ever thought about how getting organized can help you simplify and meet your goals this year?

Let’s face it, our stuff takes our energy. We have to move it, clean it and maintain it. If we aren’t using it, we may be guilting ourselves over it. This robs us of our time and energy!

Clutter has also been linked to stress. Stuff tends to overstimulate our system and draw us away from what really matters. As a result, we feel like we’re working overtime and our to-do list seems never-ending.

Let’s talk about how to get started on simplifying our lives.

Start Small

Commit to one space at a time. What space bothers you the most? I want my bedroom to be my sanctuary – a soft place to land after a long day. If you find it difficult to keep within your designated area, consider sectioning it off with painter’s tape to stay on track.

Avoid beginning with sentimental items. Sentimental items take longer to process and tend to be emotionally charged.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Make it a priority. Set realistic goals and put aside the time and energy to reach them. This means adding it to your calendar and shifting habits and routines. Why not start with electronics? They say on average we check our phones about 150 times daily!

Set some ground rules to avoid making individual decisions for each item. (i.e. if it doesn’t fit, thank it and send it on its way; if it brings you joy, keep it with confidence, etc.).

Take a before picture. A visual to reference and chart progress is incredibly important. There may be times when you don’t feel like you got that much done. Compare a before and after image to reinforce your hard work – and don’t forget to celebrate the small successes.

Get the proper tools. Boxes are great for sorting. Shoeboxes work well for smaller items or parts and pieces. Make sure to have a garbage bag handy for any trash you find along the way. Sharpies and Post-It notes are helpful for temporary labels. Avoid purchasing organizing tools before decluttering! These can come later, once you have thinned out and have a better idea of your storage solution needs.

Plan your escape route. I know I’ve covered this before, but I can’t stress it enough! There needs to be a destination for those items that no longer serve you. Research consignors while keeping in mind that the value we attribute to items is often personal – and may not extend to potential buyers. To get excited about the gift of giving, read last month’s article here.

Go Time

Start Sorting. Set-up boxes and start with some broad categories, “Donate,” “Keep,” and “Family and Friends.” Also, consider having a container accessible for recycling. Other labels I use in practice include “Family and Friends,” “Sell,” “Sentimental,” and “Find Another Home.”

“Find Another Home” is intended for items that belong in another space within your residence. Setting these items aside will save time and prevent you from getting distracted. If they are “homeless,” it may mean you need to re-evaluate. Every item deserves a home!

Load up your donate/sell items immediately. You will likely be tired after you’ve completed decluttering. It’s hard work! Empower yourself to get your donate/sell items in the car and out of your sight within 24 hours. If you let them sit, you will question your decisions.

Put family/friend items near an exit or in your vehicle. This will serve as a visual reminder. Bring to a family gathering or have them come to you – but put a timeframe on it. There’s no need for these items to take up your valuable space.

Start to fine-tune and build categories for “Keep” items. Some organizers call it zoning or putting “Like by Like.” It will be easier to find a home or determine any needed storage solutions if they are close together.

And finally, my last token of organizer wisdom. Fear often gets in the way of us simplifying our lives. Conquer it. Change can be scary but it’s necessary for progress. Remember any negative feelings are temporary and they will pass. And in the end, I promise, it’ll be worth it.

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