Is “get organized” one of your new year’s resolutions? We can help.

Spinning plates: Photo credit: Flickr/lissalou66

Photo credit: Flickr/lissalou66

Happy New Year! Ah. Felt good to have a break. Feels GREAT to be back.

The word that keeps popping into my head is "renewal." Renewed energy, renewed focus on goals and priorities, and the peace that comes when you give yourself permission to reboot.

I'm rebooting my commitment to being organized. My time, my space, my stuff, (and hopefully) my mind. I've made fine strides over the years by embracing my calendar and to-do list, breaking tasks into smaller bits, and managing distraction. But by December I let everything crumble just because I wanted a break from efficiency and planning. I wanted to wake up and live life without a list or a schedule. And it felt great.

For about three days.

Abandoning my organizational tools was refreshing for a moment, but soon enough I felt scattered, frustrated, and a little embarassed by my reliance on my "crutches." I ended up enjoying my free time less (and having less of it) because I had a harder time maintaining the daily routine. The plates I usually kept spinning started to drop. Some rolled away silently, but others shattered with a noisy, dramatic CRASH.

This was not fun. Nor was it relaxing or restful, which was the whole point, right?

I've learned that being organized makes it easier to be spontaneous. Think how much more enjoyable your impromptu lunch date will be when you've got the rest of the day's responsibilities pretty well mapped out. Or how much easier it will be to say "Hey, kids! Let's play in the snow!" when you can find the gloves, the snow boots fit, and the jackets are hanging in the closet.

It takes time to get organized. Time to do the work and time to develop the habits to keep it going. Time you probably don't have. But I promise: you're losing more time to disorganization.

If you stay strong during the uncomfortable (but temporary!) period of overlap — when you're working hard to get organized and form new habits while you're dealing with the time-sucking effects of disorganization — you'll arrive at a marvelous breakthrough moment. You'll look around, you'll see all the plates spinning…and then you'll take a moment for yourself. Because you know they'll still be spinning when you get back.

Are you ready? Dig into the Getting Organized archive and get going! For starters, you'll find tips on:

There's more. Looking for something specific? Give the Parent Hacks site search a good workout. The Search field sits in the navigation bar at the top of every page.

You can do this! I know, because I did. And then I fell behind. And now I'm rebooting. And it will be easier this time because "falling off the wagon" doesn't mean un-learning the skills. It just means renewing my commitment.

What's your best "getting organized" hack? Send it to me with the subject line GETTING ORGANIZED and I'll fast-track it.

This is the year we succeed in getting organized! Let's do it together.

I wrote about developing the organizing "habit" on my Babble Voices blog, The Accidental Expert. If you're looking for a little guidance, it may be a good place to start.


  1. Claire says

    Last year I made a to-do list to track all my recurring house chores (cleaning the bathrooms, changing the air filters, etc…) There are a lot of apps/websites out there for this; I used Remember the Milk. It seemed a little obsessive at first, but it’s made my life so much easier – I no longer have to remember what chores need to be done, or stress about “ugh, when did I last clean this bathroom” because now I know the answer.

    Best of all, my husband asked the other day how he was going to keep the house running in the weeks after I deliver baby #2 – and I got to say “It’s easy, I’ll just give you my list!” Okay, that part is probably wishful thinking :)

  2. says

    Congratulations, Claire, on the accomplishment, and on your growing family! You’ve got the right idea about delegation. Your husband is ready and willing to help, and your organization will make it so much easier for him to do so.

  3. Jennifer says

    I am a very organized person but I like to be able to let things go a few days if I want to or need to. My number one organizing “hack” is what I call my desk. It’s a small countertop in my kitchen, about 2 feet by 2 feet. I put all my paperwork there. On a very small shelf above, I put bills to be paid – all my high priority stuff in one small spot. The rest (paid bills, receipts, coupons, etc.) goes on my “desk” to be dealt with when I have the time. Usually I clean my desk about once a week. The bills always get paid on time, and best of all I don’t have paper clutter anywhere else in my house.

  4. says

    Okay, you’re motivating me. We are having to let our once a week housekeepers go in a month due to financial setbacks. I am going to make a housekeeping list and delegate. I’m a neat freak and end up doing all the work myself, but the kids are 7 and 9. It’s time to kick their butts into gear.

  5. says

    Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of myself several years ago when I worked hard to get organized and formed new habits! Obviously my life is much easier when I have managed to get everything organized. Thanks for sharing!