The New Year has begun and there are a few rituals that I naturally gravitate towards around this time of year. After a week immersed in family gatherings away from home and off my normal routine, it feels good to get back to a schedule. Upon returning home with gifts from family and friends, and more cookies and baked goods left over from gatherings than I know what to do with, I always find myself a bit overwhelmed by the whole thought of shifting gears back to normalcy. I find a little reset by cleaning and organizing gets me reoriented for the coming year.
For many of us, the holidays come quickly and leave behind a mess in all aspects of our lives: work was busy, so when I left for the holidays, my workspace was a complete mess. Stacks of papers to be filed, to-do lists strewn in every corner, and the whole house in need of a deep clean. An environment can really set the tone for work and life, so it is very important for me to intentionally create a space that will help to ground me and help me to refocus for the New Year.
If this sounds like something that you go through, either when a New Year begins or at any point in the year, these are the guidelines that I use to make sure that this process is both enjoyable and productive.
1. Make a list.
Writing down all of the areas in your workspace or home that cause you stress can really help you prioritize where you need to spend your time. Do you have a stack of papers that need to be filed? Is there a drawer filled to the brim of random unknown things? Have you been gifted some clothing, however you find you have no room for it in your closet? Identifying the places in your home or workspace that cause you stress is a really important step in organizing yourself.
Some tasks will take hours while others will take minutes. Take stock of what you would like to organize—is it a closet or a drawer, or is it the whole kitchen? Plan to tackle only one thing at a time and allow enough time for each task to be completed fully. Running around and doing everything at once will likely result in a more frazzled experience of feeling like you will never get it all done. Creating small goals and celebrating each one as they are ticked off your list will keep you inspired as you tackle your tasks.
3. Take your time.
Allowing yourself to be thoughtful during the cleaning and organizing process is so important. As you organize, it is essential to think about how you will sustain your new found organization. Think about what you hope to gain from cleaning and organizing: are you looking for a certain aesthetic or would you like to just make your house more easy to navigate. Consider how you go about your everyday life so that you can create a system of organization that will make your life easier. The way a home or office is set up is so important to the way you live, so make it unique to you and how you approach life.
4. Enjoy the process.
One task I set for myself this year was to clean out my trunk of random art supplies, journals and other miscellaneous items. During the process, I allowed myself to revisit my journals, read passages and remember moments from my past. It is so special to be able to remember moments like these through your own saved artifacts. While saving things like journals and small trinkets can get overwhelming, taking time to organize and store them in a way that is easy for you to revisit is so satisfying when you know that you will have many moments like this in life where you reread old journals and remember what it was like to be in at moment.
5. Revel in your work.
The best part of all this organizing is the moment you finish and know that your life is just a little bit less complicated. Yes, you have lots of things on your to-do list for both work and life, but at least you know where your long-lost favorite sweater is and it is easy to find a pair of scissors when you need them.