Basic Organization https://basicorganization.com Professional Organizers Washington DC Mon, 18 Mar 2019 19:34:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 https://i1.wp.com/basicorganization.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/cropped-BasicOrganizationFavicon.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Basic Organization https://basicorganization.com 32 32 155933567 What Are Your Obstacles? https://basicorganization.com/what-are-your-obs/ https://basicorganization.com/what-are-your-obs/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 09:06:59 +0000 http://basicorganization.com/?p=6803 Often when people try to organize themselves, they come up against obstacles that stop them in their tracks. They get discouraged and then give up. Identifying some of these obstacles beforehand can help you avoid this situation. Do you have clear goals? Before you start an organizing project you need to be clear of the finish…

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Often when people try to organize themselves, they come up against obstacles that stop them in their tracks. They get discouraged and then give up. Identifying some of these obstacles beforehand can help you avoid this situation.

Do you have clear goals? Before you start an organizing project you need to be clear of the finish line. Take some time to write down what you want in the end or else how will you know when you have achieved your goal?

Are you sure you can do it? If fear of failure is keeping you from getting started, take a deep breath and jump in. If you move forward, you haven’t failed.

Do you need perfection? If you are trying to “do it” perfectly, you must realize that this is un-achievable. You will never find the perfection organizing solution, just one that works for you right now.

Are you a sentimental fool? Having a strong attachment to your things doesn’t make you a fool. It make you sentimental, but it can keep you from achieving an organized space.

Your space is very personal. This is way it’s easier to help someone else organize their space rather than your own. There are no obstacles in a space that is not your own. It’s the same for an organizer. I come up against obstacles when working in my own home, but I know to keep the finish line in sight and move forward.

By identifying the obstacles in your way, you can work around them as well and you will also end up with an organized space.

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Ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? https://basicorganization.com/ever-heard-of-the-eisenhower-matrix/ https://basicorganization.com/ever-heard-of-the-eisenhower-matrix/#comments Mon, 11 Mar 2019 09:01:51 +0000 http://basicorganization.com/?p=7114 President Dwight D. Eisenhower had his own system of getting things done. As a highly organized man, he devised a system of prioritizing his tasks that is simple enough to be executed with pencil and paper and effective enough to run the free world. It’s called the Eisenhower Matrix. The system is a formal process…

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President Dwight D. Eisenhower had his own system of getting things done. As a highly organized man, he devised a system of prioritizing his tasks that is simple enough to be executed with pencil and paper and effective enough to run the free world. It’s called the Eisenhower Matrix.

The system is a formal process that helps you determine what tasks on your to-do list are urgent and what tasks are important. It answers the age-old question “Is this worth doing?”

“What is important is seldom urgent

and what is urgent is seldom important.”

When your tasks are plugged into the matrix it’s easy to identify what you need to work on first and what can wait until later. Here is how it works:

Make a chart that looks like the example below, with four quadrants. Label each quadrant with the categories shown. Now decide which of your tasks go where.

matrix

Chart from Lifehacker.com

 

  1. Important and urgent. Tasks in this category are both urgent and time sensitive. They must be completed as soon as possible.
  2. Important and not urgent. These tasks are to be handled immediately after those in quadrant number one. They are less sensitive, but need to be completed after any crises have been solved.
  3. Not important but urgent. These tasks are things that are not life changing but need to be dealt with soon.
  4. Unimportant and not urgent. Tasks that need to get done, but with no time-crunch in place. These things can be scheduled for another time.

There are apps that you can use to create the matrix for yourself. You can find out more information at Eisenhower.me.

I use this prioritizing method when I get overwhelmed with my to-do list and don’t know what to do first. Try it and let me know how it works for you.

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Creating A Family Safety Plan https://basicorganization.com/creating-a-family-safety-plan/ https://basicorganization.com/creating-a-family-safety-plan/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2019 09:28:23 +0000 http://basicorganization.wordpress.com/?p=1445 Accidents and disasters can happen to anyone, at any time. You will sleep better at night knowing that you are prepared for the unexpected. Use these simple 10 steps to prepare your entire family to act if an emergency occurs. Create a list of emergency telephone numbers. Include contacts that you would need if you…

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Accidents and disasters can happen to anyone, at any time. You will sleep better at night knowing that you are prepared for the unexpected. Use these simple 10 steps to prepare your entire family to act if an emergency occurs.

  1. Create a list of emergency telephone numbers. Include contacts that you would need if you would not be able to use your cell phone. Post the phone list in a central location in your home. Make a pocket size copy for each family member to carry with them, in their wallet or backpack.
  2. Create a written inventory of all medications used by family members. Have a central location where all medication is stored.
  3. Teach your children how and when to dial 911.
  4. Look for possible hazards in your home, such as things that are located high up and are in danger of falling. Make sure exits are clear and poisons are locked up.
  5. Learn how and when to use your fire extinguisher. Make sure they are up to date and have not expired.
  6. Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should have a detector on each level of your home, especially near all bedrooms. If you do not have adequate detectors, purchase what is needed.
  7. Teach all family members how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity in the home.
  8. Identify all possible ways to exit your home in an emergency and find safe spots inside your home for shelter in a disaster.
  9. Determine several evacuation routes out of your neighborhood, office building, or school. Choose a location where your family will meet a distance from your home, in case of emergency and you are not able to make it home.
  10. Have a separate plan for anyone with special needs, including children, seniors, disabled and pets.

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How to work from home and be productive. https://basicorganization.com/work-home-productive/ https://basicorganization.com/work-home-productive/#respond Mon, 25 Feb 2019 09:05:59 +0000 http://basicorganization.com/?p=7111 With increasing commute times and better technology, more and more people are beginning to work from home. If you are lucky to call you home address your office (even some of the time) how do you stay productive with all the distractions of home? Here are 5 tips to be your most productive while working…

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With increasing commute times and better technology, more and more people are beginning to work from home. If you are lucky to call you home address your office (even some of the time) how do you stay productive with all the distractions of home?

Here are 5 tips to be your most productive while working from home.

Stay Focused. Managing the demands of work, staying motivated and keeping a positive attitude is up to you when you are the only one in the office. Have a work schedule and make sure that your family knows the hours that you should not be distributed. Have a specific/dedicated space where you do your work. Use it for only work. Take anything out of the space that could distract you from the task at hand.

Stay Connected. You’ll need to stay connected to your colleagues and customers, so have a good cell phone and reliable internet. You can’t work in a vacuum all the time. Check your communication avenues (email, voice mail, texts) a couple of times a day, preferably at regular times of the days.

Manage Your Time. Budgeting your time is vital to being your most productive. Have deadlines, even if you have to create them yourself. Create a schedule. What time is lunch? What time do you start and finish you work day? Do you need to set aside time for reading or reviewing reports? Schedule it. Reviewing your activities at the end of each day to see what you accomplished can help you identify your unproductive activities and help you stay accountable.

Stay Energized. You’ll need to get out of the house (and away from the office) once in a while. So plan something active; take a walk, go to the gym. You don’t have to spend a lot of time away, just enough to clear your mind and stretch your muscles. Also plan social activities that will keep you connected with the outside world.

Get Support. Ask for support from your boss and co-workers if you need it. Go into the office to get some face time with others. If working on a team project, regularly check in with your teammates to get and give feedback. Consider joining a professional organization or group where you can go and talk shop with others to clear you head and get some motivation.

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10 Tips to Organizing Digital Photos https://basicorganization.com/10-tips-to-organizing-digital-photos/ https://basicorganization.com/10-tips-to-organizing-digital-photos/#respond Mon, 18 Feb 2019 18:39:55 +0000 http://basicorganization.wordpress.com/?p=780 If your collection of digital photos has grown over the years, as mine has, there comes a time when knowing what you have and finding what you want becomes difficult. There are lots of electronic tools to help you stay organized. Check these tips out! Set your camera to the correct date and time. Delete…

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If your collection of digital photos has grown over the years, as mine has, there comes a time when knowing what you have and finding what you want becomes difficult. There are lots of electronic tools to help you stay organized. Check these tips out!

  1. Set your camera to the correct date and time.
  2. Delete as soon as you take a bad photo.
  3. File your photos correctly.
  4. Use sub-folders, as with other documents.
  5. Back up your photos often.
  6. Rate your best photos.
  7. Tag your photos.
  8. Tag the people in your photos.
  9. Create an annual photo book.
  10. Continue these good habits.

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What Can You Do in Fifteen Minutes? https://basicorganization.com/what-can-you-do-in-fifteen-minutes/ https://basicorganization.com/what-can-you-do-in-fifteen-minutes/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2019 10:41:37 +0000 http://basicorganization.wordpress.com/?p=347 Do you ever find yourself stuck waiting? Using that “wait” time constructively, in the doctor’s waiting room or the carpool lane can go a long way to getting you more organized. We are so busy these days that it’s a good strategy to take advantage of the spare minutes that we spend waiting. By taking…

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Do you ever find yourself stuck waiting? Using that “wait” time constructively, in the doctor’s waiting room or the carpool lane can go a long way to getting you more organized. We are so busy these days that it’s a good strategy to take advantage of the spare minutes that we spend waiting. By taking advantage of this “free” time spent waiting when you can’t do anything else anyway.

Next time you grab your keys to head out the door take along a few things to better use your “waiting” time. And get something crossed off your to-do list.

A Dozen Things You Can Do To Be More Organized

  1. Menu Planning. You can plan a week’s worth of meals in minutes. Think of what is in your freezer or your pantry that you could begin to plan a meal around. Browse a cook book for a new idea, add a family favorite or two and don’t forget to plan one night of leftovers.
  2. Shopping List. Using your menu plan, not make a list of the ingredients you will need to pick up at the store. Take it one step further and swing by the store to pick up what’s needed on the way home.
  3. Make Doctors Appointments. While parked in your car, pick up your phone to make appointments. It is a great way to cross this task off your list. You may be put on hold by the receptionist – think of it as multi-tasking, waiting for two things at once.
  4. Answer Emails. Use today’s technology to lighten your load of correspondence. By responding to those quick emails, you can keep current and keep one more thing off your to-do list.
  5. Write a To-Do list. A few minutes of concentrating about what is a important for you can clarify your priorities. Write down three things you want or need to accomplish by the end of the day and plan how you will accomplish them.
  6. Pay Bills. If you pay your bills on line it’s a snap to do it on your phone while waiting, or bring along your check book and a book of stamps and you will be able to cross this task off your list. You can even drop your payments in the mail before you even enter your house.
  7. Read. Save articles from newspapers or magazines by ripping them out and stashing them in a file folder. Instead of letting them pile up on the kitchen counter, keep them in your car for times just like this.
  8. Calendar Planning. Focus on your calendar, whether it’s a planner or your smart phone. Put all your extracurricular activities, birthdays, parties, appointments, and other events into your calendar. You’ll be more organized with everything in one location.
  9. Thank You Notes. Revive the art of the hand written note. Take the time to get the thank you notes written, addressed, and stamped and you’ll be on your way to perfect manners in fifteen minutes flat.
  10. Catch up With a Friend. Sometimes the small things get pushed aside because we are so busy. Whether it is by phone or a quick email or text, it’s a great chance to catch up with a friend without the distractions of home and the family.
  11. Plan a Date Night. Once all the calls, lists and reading is done, then reward yourself by planning some fun! Think of some ways that you can spend some quality time with your spouse or family. Make dinner reservations, book tickets, reserve a babysitter all while you sit waiting.
  12. Take a Nap. Sometimes a little shut eye is the best thing for you. A few minutes of down time can help you be your best for the rest of the day.

It is not possible for you to accomplish all these quick tasks while waiting. But by getting one or two done regularly you will free up some time at the office or home where you really could use the extra fifteen minutes.

About Us

Basic Organization is a professional home organizing company based in Centreville, Virginia serving families, busy professionals, seniors and home-based business owners in the Washington DC area. Our passion is helping people achieve peace and simplicity in their lives by organizing homes, routines and lifestyles. Our team of personal organizers will help you regain control of your environment by helping to organize the living and storage areas of your home, including the garage, kitchen, basement, office, bedrooms and closets.

About Janet

A Certified Professional Organizer, and a published contributor of the book Get Organized Today, Janet Schiesl is the owner of Basic Organization–a leading professional home organizing services company in Northern Virginia. A personal organizer since 2005, Janet loves using her experience as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at the areas of a home differently. Recognized as the 2016 Washington DC Area Organizer of the Year by NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals where she served as president, Janet specializes in managing large organizing projects and working one-on-one with clients who need help organizing their home or office. Contact Janet at 571-265-1303 or click to schedule a discovery call to find out what Janet and her team can organize for you!

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How to Hire a Professional Organizer https://basicorganization.com/how-to-hire-a-professional-organizer/ https://basicorganization.com/how-to-hire-a-professional-organizer/#respond Mon, 04 Feb 2019 09:37:52 +0000 http://basicorganization.wordpress.com/?p=99 Hiring a professional organizer is like choosing a doctor. You need to mesh and feel comfortable with them. This is someone that you are going to get personal with. Think about it. If you need to organize your home office, your organizer will ask you personal questions about your finances and medical paperwork. If you want…

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Hiring a professional organizer is like choosing a doctor. You need to mesh and feel comfortable with them. This is someone that you are going to get personal with. Think about it. If you need to organize your home office, your organizer will ask you personal questions about your finances and medical paperwork. If you want to focus on organizing your closet, you are going to delve deep into your size and style.

In the new book “Get Organized Today” Natasha Packer from As You Wish, lists questions you should ask a prospective organizer:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What kind of clients do you mostly serve and what do you do for them?
  • What training of background do you have?
  • Are you insured and bonded?
  • What do you feel is your greatest strength as an organizer?
  • Will you be the only one coming to assist me or will you send or bring someone else?
  • Do you provide ongoing organizing support?

Interview a few people to find the right match for you. It will be a reward relationship you create!

Purchase the new book Get Organized Today.

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Useful Computer Clean Out Tips https://basicorganization.com/useful-computer-clean-out-tips/ https://basicorganization.com/useful-computer-clean-out-tips/#comments Mon, 28 Jan 2019 09:54:41 +0000 http://basicorganization.wordpress.com/?p=596 Here are the promised tips from iolo.com on cleaning out your computer. Delete unused, old or duplicate files, emails, email addresses, bookmarks and favorites. With System Mechanic’s “Remove Junk Files”, “Remove Internet Debris” or “Find Duplicate Files” tools, you can recover a lot of lost space – and a lot of time wasted while looking…

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Here are the promised tips from iolo.com on cleaning out your computer.

  1. Delete unused, old or duplicate files, emails, email addresses, bookmarks and favorites. With System Mechanic’s “Remove Junk Files”, “Remove Internet Debris” or “Find Duplicate Files” tools, you can recover a lot of lost space – and a lot of time wasted while looking for files on a cluttered hard drive.
  2. Organize your files. Make sure to use a logical file naming system and put them into folders that make sense and are easy to remember and access.
  3. Defragment your hard drive. While it won’t categorize your files (you have to do that manually, see #2 above), defragmentation will speed up your access to them, again saving you valuable time. System Mechanic’s “Defragment Hard Drive” tool defragments even your Windows system files, providing noticeable speed improvements.
  4. Back up your files and programs at least every month. Imagine all the time wasted if your files are lost. Back up regularly to a separate device like a portable hard drive or set up an automatic online back-up service.
  5. Uninstall programs that you no longer need or use. To make sure they are completely uninstalled and do not leave any residual clutter, use System Mechanic’s “Remove Installed Programs” to uninstall even the most stubborn components.
  6. Once you’ve uninstalled unused program, make sure to clean out your registry as well. Invalid or out-of-date registry settings can slow down your computer’s boot time. Use System Mechanic’s “Repair Registry Problems” and “Defragment and Compact Registry” to save valuable minutes off your boot time.
  7. Further improve your computer’s start-up time by removing unnecessary start-up items. Many programs lodge themselves in start-up without your knowledge. Remove them using System Mechanic’s “Optimize Windows Startup” tool.
  8. Once you’ve organized all your files into folders, make sure all the shortcuts are still accurate. Use “Repair Broken Shortcuts” to get all your shortcuts in order.
  9. For an ultimate clean out, try iolo’s DriveScrubber (a stand-alone utility for permanently wiping data from hard drives, offered also as part of System Mechanic Professional). DriveScrubber can securely wipe out all your hard drive data or you can use a more selective approach, removing only your personal files and leaving the programs intact. Definitely opt for this clean out option if you are planning on donating your computer to make sure your personal information is not recoverable.
  10. For a complete PC clean out on Clean Out Your Computer Day, don’t forget your PC’s outside. Clean the screen, dust the keyboard, clean the mouse. After all, your computer deserves some pampering too.

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Be More Productive Using the Basics https://basicorganization.com/be-more-productive-using-the-basics/ https://basicorganization.com/be-more-productive-using-the-basics/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2019 09:59:55 +0000 https://basicorganization.com/?p=7219 What does ‘being more productive” look like to you? That question could have a million answers. One size does not fit all. Actually, the answer is very personal. To start the process, identify what it is that you want to work on, then using some basic guides work towards that goal. To help you out,…

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What does ‘being more productive” look like to you? That question could have a million answers. One size does not fit all. Actually, the answer is very personal. To start the process, identify what it is that you want to work on, then using some basic guides work towards that goal. To help you out, here are my top basic rules for being more productive:

Write a shorter to-do list.

Focus on what you really “need” to get done today. Make it short and simple, but ask yourself how this list will help you to reach your goal. Prioritizing what needs to get done first, then note the “wants” at the bottom. Maybe your goal is to get more sleep. What do you need to do today to:

get to bed earlier? Maybe turn off the electronics early.

sleep more soundly? Maybe don’t drink any alcohol or spicy food in the evening, or maybe do some exercise during the day to use up some extra energy.

Be more flexible.

Have a plan, but be flexible. No one has a perfect day, but if your to-do list is short then you can deal with any interruptions in your day while still be productive. What if:

your boss has schedules a last-minute meeting that you have to attend. Can you delegate the work you were going to do then?

the kid’s carpool doesn’t happen and you have to cancel your gym visit to drive your son to practice. Can you walk around the field while soccer practice is happening?

Go offline.

This may be hard and I am not suggesting that you toss the electronics completely. But set boundaries for yourself:

turn off the distractions when you need to concentrate on something else.

set times during the day when you’ll check email and social media, then don’t do it any other time.

Make decisions.

Procrastinating on decision making will waste SO MUCH TIME! Seriously! Just make the decisions and move on. I think of this as taking control of your life. Because, often times, if you put off making a decision, someone else will make it for you. If this is hard for you, ask yourself::

why am I hesitating?

what is the worst thing that could happen if I made this decision?

Write it down.

Put yourself first.

Be proactive with your time. Make it work for you, not the other way around. You can do this by:

making sure your to-do list includes things like exercise, hobbies, or any other personal activities.

scheduling yourself on your calendar. It is your calendar, so you should see yourself on it, not just what you need to do for others.

 

Need more basic inspiration? Check out some of our earlier posts on productivity.

Be More Productive by Limiting Your Choices

Building New Productivity Habits

How to Work from Home and Be Productive

Productivity Improvement for Entrepreneurs

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Achieve Your New Years Resolution https://basicorganization.com/achieve-your-new-years-resolution/ https://basicorganization.com/achieve-your-new-years-resolution/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2019 09:44:29 +0000 https://basicorganization.com/?p=7212 Happy New Year! You are probably just getting back to work (or school) today after a long holiday weekend (or week). How are you feeling? Ready to jump in to a new year, start fresh, set some goals, focus on a new year’s resolution? OK, take a deep breath, don’t get overwhelmed. Do you really…

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Happy New Year!

You are probably just getting back to work (or school) today after a long holiday weekend (or week). How are you feeling? Ready to jump in to a new year, start fresh, set some goals, focus on a new year’s resolution? OK, take a deep breath, don’t get overwhelmed. Do you really need to make a big deal about the new year? Do you need to change something in your life?

At this time of year a lot of people are ready to make some improvement in their lives. Maybe it’s the fact that you’ll be spending more time indoors for the next few months, so you want to focus on something that will better your life. Good for you! I make resolutions too. Did you know that according to ProactiveChange.com, about half of the people who make resolutions keep them. Watch this quick video and check out the statistics.

Half of the people who make good resolutions at new year have given up on them by the end of June.

A little planning goes a long way to achieve your resolution goals. Here is how I do it. First, I look back at the last year. What were my big accomplishments? Can I build on those? Was there anything I didn’t accomplish that is still waiting? What are the things that fell by the wayside? I use my accountability group to answer these questions. We won’t be meeting until mid-month, but I’m ready. Having other people to answer to helps me become clear on my achievements and also my future goals. But you don’t need a group. Writing down you intentions is the next best thing. Studies show that people are much more likely to move forward on a goal, task, idea, project if they write it down, so do it. Schedule time to complete the next task necessary to move forward on your resolution.

After looking at last year, I ask myself, what do I want to achieve next year? I make a list for business and a list for personal. Still working on the work/life balance, so I want to have a list for both. Just brainstorm on your list for awhile. Write down anything that comes to mind. After awhile, review your list and you’ll probably find some things that are just not going to happen, for one reason or another. I’d love to travel to Bali, but realistically that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Work on your list until you feel that your goals are doable.

Now, in order to move forward you need to plan. What the saying “a goal without a plan is just a dream”. Let’s get your resolutions out of the dream category and move them into the goals category. What do you want to accomplish? What is the easiest thing you can do to move forward on that goal?

Do you want to be more active? How about parking at the end of the parking lot at work, so you  walk a little further to and from work? Maybe resolve to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Start with a small goal and then you can move on to a large goal later. What I mean is, do the stairs or walk through the parking lot for the winter. Then mark on your calendar (maybe March 1st or April 1st) the day you’ll start walking for 15 minutes after dinner each night. Whatever works for you.

People often ask me how to get started on a big organizing and decluttering project and my answer is the same scenario as above. Start by sorting you mail everyday when you come in the house and eliminating what you don’t need. Then move on to the backlog of paper once you get comfortable with your progress with the mail. Peter Walsh (famous organizer) suggests that the easiest way to declutter is to walk around your house with one bag for trash and one bag for donations. Fill those two bags – no more. If you don this everyday for a week it will make a big difference. Then you can build on your success and focus your organizing an area of a room or a closet. I like this idea – one, because it’s not so overwhelming and two, because we all have stuff lying around the house that we know we don’t want or need and we just never focused on getting it out. Taking 10 minutes each day to fill two bags sets the time for you to do it.

In a past New Year’s Resolution blog post, I made a nice little list that may help you achieve your resolution goals. Happy New Year!

  1. Be realistic – Don’t make your goal unattainable. Break down big goals into smaller ones that are easier to manage.
  2. Write it down – Putting your plan into words and tracking your progress will help you focus. If you do, you are more likely to follow through and stay motivated.
  3. Do it daily – Incorporate your resolution into your daily life. The changes you are making will become so routine that you won’t even have to think about it.
  4. Don’t go it alone – Tell someone what you goal is. Ask that person to support your efforts. Or find a buddy with the same goals, so you can motivate each other
  5. Reward yourself – Set short term goals, and then reward yourself when you reach them.
  6. Start right away – Don’t put it off.

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