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Tips to Get Organized in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions tend to run toward the grand if not the grandiose. We make vows about shedding pounds and shedding toxic friends, about smelling the roses and living in the moment. And, of course, about cleaning out the attic (and the basement).

“When it comes to resolutions, people tend to be wildly overambitious,” said Julie Morgenstern, the organizing and time-management expert. “The trick is small, doable concrete resolutions that give you huge rewards in terms of time, energy and control.”

Here are a few specific tips:

  1. “Pick one or two of the smallest areas you spend the most time in and tackle those first,” Ms. Morgenstern advises. Think sock drawer, medicine cabinet, refrigerator, front closet, brief case or purse. “You can get them done in an hour, two hours tops,” she said.
  2. If your goal is, say, to get rid of the old, the torn, the obsolete, the ill-fitting and the duplicates in your closet, get an image of what you are decluttering for. “Don’t think of it as making room for more stuff,” Ms. Morgenstern counseled. “It’s about making room for new relationships or peace of mind or new experiences.”

    That might mean greater ease in getting ready for work and a newfound ability to exit the house on time because at long last you can actually find things in your closet.

    If you reorganize your kitchen, that could mean more home-cooked meals. If you tackle your CD collection, you could come home in the evening and put your hands on exactly what you are in the mood for

  3. Think kindergarten classroom when you’re organizing. You won’t find a tambourine at the sand table or in the arts and crafts area. Learn from that. “Store things where they’re used, not where they fit,” Ms. Morgenstern said. “In the kitchen, for example, group all food-prep items together: the food processor with the cutting board, measuring spoons, spatulas, whisks, et cetera.”
  4. Become a realist about time. For anything you want to do or need to do, be honest with yourself about how long it’s going to take. “Don’t go into denial and wishful thinking,” Ms. Morgenstern said. “We get into the biggest trouble when we’re over-optimistic about how long it’s going to take to write a report, for example, catch up on expense accounts or navigate Costco, and then we over-plan. And then we feel defeated when we don’t get everything done.
  5. Work from the inside out, whether you’re organizing your closet, your kitchen or your schedule, Ms. Morgenstern said. In other words, come up with a system based on the way you think, your natural habits and your goals.

Source: “Five Tips From an Organizing Expert,” The New York Times, Dec. 24, 2015