I’ve been contemplating what to blog about for the New Year. What can I say about organizing that hasn’t already been said? What piece of inspirational organizing brilliance can I come up with? After a while I realized I didn’t have anything terribly new or brilliant to say, and that’s all right.
What I do have to share is an organizing principle that I’m finding very powerful and relevant in my own life. This is my best tip for getting organized, and more importantly, staying organized, in 2009. Ready? Here goes!
Limits and boundaries. Set limits and boundaries, and hold yourself to them. If you find that difficult (as we all do), then create systems that help you stick to the limits and boundaries.
Whether it’s an inbox on your desk that limits the number of papers you can have piled up before you must sort them, or a closet that limits the number of clothes you can cram in it, that’s what organizing systems do: they put boundaries around our stuff.
It doesn’t really matter where you set the boundary, just that you set it. And that you don’t ignore it! The point of the boundary is to remind you to do something about the stuff. If I say I only want to have one basket of magazines to read, then when the basket is full, I have to do something. I either have to read some magazines, get rid of some magazines (or both), change the boundary (get another basket), or choose to live with the overflowing basket.
Every season, I sort through my closet and get rid of clothes I haven’t worn in the last year. I could just set a date to do this, every three months. Maybe I’d do it. But what really motivates me to action is the fact that my closet is getting uncomfortably full. The boundary is being encroached upon. If I don’t do something, my closet will overflow!
We often think of boundaries and limits as… well, limiting. But I think they can also be empowering, if we use them as reminders that motivate us to action.
So, what limits and boundaries are you going to set for yourself in 2009? Maybe it’s a physical limit, like switching to a smaller handbag so you aren’t constantly digging around in your huge purse. Or perhaps you need some mental boundaries, like setting a timer when you log into Facebook or Twitter, so that you don’t unwittingly while away 3 hours.
Remember that limits are gentle reminders to switch tracks, engage in an action, or change a habit. If you can set limits and boundaries, and respect them, you’ll be well on your way to becoming more organized in 2009!