[2010 Theme] Break Your Theme Down

It’s officially February. If you remember the study I cited at the beginning of the year, most of you with New Year’s resolutions have already let them go by the wayside.

How about those of you who picked a theme instead? How is your theme coming along?

I ran out and bought three books on organization. And all of them sit, partially skimmed. If I looked around myself, at home or at work, and said, “OK, organize it” then I wouldn’t know where to start. It would overwhelm me.

You don’t have to do it all at once.

That’s the great thing about a theme – you have all year to work on it. I don’t have to get it all done right now. Every time something is disorganized, my boyfriend likes to say with a smile, “It’s the year of organization!” And I like to say right back, “It’s the YEAR of organizationnot the JANUARY of organization.”

The problem with resolutions is that once you’ve missed a few days of working out or had a few too many trips to McDonald’s you feel like you’ve failed and you quit. The theme doesn’t let me quit. It’s all year, baby! If I don’t fold the laundry for two weeks, it’s OK. I’ll get there. It’s only January.

Your theme is probably a huge honkin’ goal. Break it down. Pick a small portion of it and make it the theme for that month.

Here’s how the Year of Organization looks for me:

January: Home Office

February: Kitchen

March: Car

April: Bedroom

May: Outdoors

June: Laundry room

July: Living room

August: Bathrooms

September: Hallways & closets

October: Bedroom closet

November: TBD

December: TBD

Plan to fall behind… a little.

I’m allowing myself leniency and flexibility in the last two months. I know that I’ll find behind, and I also know that I’ll find something I didn’t expect that needs work. This takes a little pressure off of me – I won’t be doubling up on things because I forgot about this or that, and my year isn’t so full that if life gets in the way (as it so often does) I can take a break.

Don’t forget the little things.

Overarching all of this are the intangibles of organization – organizing my time, schedule, finances and expectations. I work on those things every month. I don’t work hard at them. I keep up the work I did last year (the Year of Finances), making a budget and sticking to it every two weeks. I keep a calendar with important dates, etc. That’s not the sort of stuff that can be done in a month, nor can it wait for a particular month to be scheduled for it.

It works!

The interesting thing I’ve found just by organizing my home office in January, is that when my physical space is organized those intangible organization problems are lessened. Rationally I know that if my documents are where I can find them, then things will go faster. But I think it’s interesting that my work schedule feels less cluttered and claustrophobic because my office is not cluttered and claustrophobic.

There just might be something to this organization thing!

Stay tuned for an update on January’s mini-theme, the Home Office. I’ll be posting photos.

Photo credit: Sarah and Mike… Probably via Flickr

3 comments on this post.
  1. Akirah:

    Thanks so much for this…it really does work!

  2. Ryan Stephens:

    A couple of things to note that I like about this approach:

    1.) It understands that change takes time, and it’s disciplined enough to understand barring unfortunate circumstances most of us have relatively long careers that span half our lives (if not more).

    2.) Because of that these changes that take a year or more may seem like FOREVER while they’re happening, but if they enable you to form a habit that will stay with you the rest of your career, it is totally worth it.

  3. Gen X Girl:

    I loved your post. My January started with me organising my kitchen. My pantry is divine. Here’s a post on it I was so proud. http://www.genxjourney.com/2010/01/31/fancy-pantry/
    Last weekend it was the study. I love the plan you’ve outlined, might go with that with variations. Keep up the good work!

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