At the stroke of midnight, Jan. 1, 2006, you were absolutely resolute about organizing your home.
Perhaps it was the champagne. Maybe those small animals nesting in your garage prompted you to action. And then there's the cat. You've heard the meows, but you haven't seen him since Christmas.
Unfortunately, whatever motivated you to get your house in order wound up in the pile you planned to clear.
You just need a little timely hand-holding and a few bright ideas. Coming up with the courage is still your job. So hold out your hand and consider these ideas from organizational extroverts who want to help get the orderly you out of the closet -- so you can clean it and the rest of your home.
- Optimize Your Timing To Organize. It's a good time to organize now. You are rained in, snowed in or just plain fed up with winter's mush, slush and freeze and you've pretty much had it with guests trudging through your home. After spending most of the month clearing holiday litter, you've already got a head start. It's not surprising organizing is a top New Year's resolution.
It's also no coincidence that the National Association of Professional Organizers designated January as Get Organized Month.
That's makes it a good time to easily find organizational help, hints, tips and lists as organizers market their services and the media gives you the scoop.
- Realize Your Limitations. Your home wasn't cluttered in a day. Understand cleaning, removing the clutter from and organizing a 1,500 square foot storage bin is going to take more time than it took you to come up with a promise to clean house.
- De-emphasize Excuses. The popular refrain, "I might need it someday," is little more than an excuse to put off until tomorrow getting rid of something you won't use today or anytime soon, especially if you haven't used it in six months or more. Likewise, "It was expensive and I can't stand to see it go to waste," is nothing but denial. The item is already being wasted if you aren't using it. "It was a gift." So, re-gift it. The gift giver may have already done that to you.
- Miniaturize Tasks. Start small. Real small. Sign up with "FlyLady" Marla Cilley and let her tell you what to do. Daily Missions assign you to a small task each day in one of a half dozen "Home Zones."
"These missions will take you to places you may have never been before," she says.
The not-so-bold missions are also posted online on the Flight Plan page where small Home Zone tasks are tackled individually to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the greater task at hand. Last week, for example, your mission was to grab an old toothbrush and scrub away the gunk that gathers around the bathroom faucets -- a five-minute chore.
- Systemize Tasks. Instead of a hodgepodge, willy-nilly system of bins and baskets and shelves and racks that don't mesh, consider one sane, organized, built-in or matching storage system. Do-it-yourself or hire out. The once-and-for-all proposition can be used to organize everything in a given room (say, garage or office), closet, nook or cranny.
"At first it might seem like you're fighting a losing battle, trying to get your garage organized, but by following some simple suggestions and using some of today's best storage tools, you can transform a garage from a disorganized storage shed into a fully functioning room in a matter of days," says the guy who wrote the book on garage-guilt, Bill West, author of "Your Garagenous Zone: The Complete Garage Organizer Guide" and a partner website, Garagez.com.
- Deputize Your Family. Delegate. Send the kids to their room and Pop to the garage as you take on the kitchen. Give specific instructions to your troops. Tell the kids to pick up their clothes and put them in the hamper or make their beds. Tell Pop to hang the tools and sort the trash from the recyclables. You get to choose your own kitchen job.
- Optimize Your Efforts. During hard-core efforts to organize, take a few minutes every hour to reward yourself while taking stock of the task at hand. Over a cup of joe, make a list of what's yet to be done, prioritize it, spend a few minutes on breathing exercises, hug the babies, kiss your wife and get back to work with renewed spirit, says Cilley. The exercise prevents headless-chicken behavior by keeping a plan at hand.
- Capitalize On Your Efforts. Teaching is one of the best ways to remember what you've learned. Consider becoming a professional organizer. Online Organizing offers a host of learning tools that can help you determine your organizing "personality" and if you have what it takes to be a pro. It'll also give you a lot of insight on your organizational pluses and minuses and what you'll need to know to make a living telling others how to clean up their act. Even if you don't find a career, you will find a job -- or three -- around your home.
- Capitalize On Your Junk. Among the growing number of eBay Trading Assistants (TAs), there's probably one who can take at least some of that stuff off your hands and give you some cash for doing so. TAs are sort of like online consignment shops -- inlets instead of outlets. They will help you overcome your fears of selling online or the dread of garage sales and sell that stuff you don't want to "waste." Plug in your ZIP code, find TAs in your neighborhood, call for a pick up or drop off your unwanted treasures. You may have to pay the TA a commission as high as 50 percent of the sales price, but whatever cash you net is more than you are getting for storing stuff you don't need. Cash in hand also takes up a whole lot less space. Don't expect to unload junk on TAs. They've been around the trading block a few times and they know what will sell and what won't.
- Hire An Organizer. Bite the bullet, accept that you'll never get the job done on your own and get some help. Visit the National Association of Professional Organizers for help from a service industry developed to help home owners and others organize. The association swears by the habit because, it says, organization breeds efficiency. Efficiency gives you more control over your surroundings and your life. Control allows you to get more done in less time. As you know, time is money.
It's a theory worth considering.