I've found that Winter is an excellent season for revamping the personal organization system. The brisk, cold air reinvigorates me, and for some reason instills a need to brush up on my organization, especially around the house. This could partially be due to the weather, or the fact that the busy holiday season requires that I've got all my ducks in a row, or I won't survive my social calendar.
Here are a few ways to help you get ready for the busy end of the year.
- Sweep the Calendar
If you're like me, you've got miscellaneous things on the calendar that were planned a long time ago in the Summer that never actually happened. Sweep the Winter months and make sure that everything on your calendar is an actual event. Once you've got everything off the calendar that you won't need, go through and add those events that you haven't gotten around to yet. This may be a little tricky finding all the hidden events, but usually for me they're either in my email, on various bits of paper around the house, and elsewhere.
- Slim Todo Lists
For many people, todo lists have become a place to put stuff that you might do, as opposed to things you're going to do. Instead of showing immediate action, the lists are weighed down with extra tasks that you might never do. Dump all of your todo items that you might do into a "Someday/Maybe" file. You'll feel great once you're clear of that extra stuff. It's much easier to get motivated to get things done when your list of things to do has 300 items on it.
- Pack Up Summer Clothes
Closet clutter can be a very ugly thing. Put those clothes that you're sure you won't need this winter into storage. And if you've got clothes that you hardly ever wear any more, dump 'em off at the Salvation Army. Giving away stuff you don't use is still giving.
- Optimize Your Garage or Shed
If you've got a garage or shed that you use for your maintenance equipment, you'll probably want to put up the rakes and other lawn equipment, and start pulling out the sidewalk salts, snow shovels, and other winter weather equipment. (This will vary depending on your location.) If you own any tools, Winter is an especially great time to organize the "shop". While there are probably still some weatherproofing and miscellaneous Winter "handy man" jobs around the house that you could do, the bulk of the outside projects will probably be put on standby until Spring rolls around. Until then, it's an excellent opportunity to put everything in its place.
- Declutter Your House
The holiday season typically encourages people to clutter their house even more than usual with Christmas decorations. However, there's no time like the end of the year to really evaluate what's needed around the house. Try going through every stack of clutter and think carefully about the usefulness of each item. My personal rule of thumb is pretty extreme, but it works pretty well to silence the inner packrat: "When in doubt, throw it out!"
- Track Down Your Finances
While April 15th is a few months away, it doesn't hurt to get your books in order early. Start by tracking down receipts and purchases from the last year early on. You don't have to wait until 10pm on April 14th to file your taxes, you know ;)
- Pick One Thing To Change In 2008
People often try to change waaaay too many things with New Year's Resolutions. But let's be honest here: How often are resolutions actually kept? More often than not a list of resolutions is quickly forgotten after the first month. Why? Because effective change is a slow, steady process. Instead of trying to change a slew of things about your life when the new year rolls around, how about just changing one aspect? Pick one thing to improve on next year, and once you change it move on to another.
- Review 2007
Taking a look back on what you did this year, what you accomplished and what you learned, is one of the best ways to make the most out of the year. Plus it gives motivation to do great things next year.
- Toss files
You've got a drawer or two full of files you don't actually need anymore. Toss them out. Do the same with your computer files.