Ask my husband and he’ll tell you I never drive the same route twice. I argue with the navigation system about alternative (and in my mind faster) routes. My nature is to rebel against the idea of routine, which when driving around locally can become monotonous. The truth is if I would drive the same route repeatedly I could predict how long my journey would take, I wouldn’t have to worry that I might arrive late at my destination or become stressed when road works send me off-course.
Routines, and their subsequent habits, are necessary for our brain to predict our future actions. These repetitive actions allow us to process information faster and maintain low stress levels through their predictability. When we have a daily routine and create healthy habits for ourselves we achieve more without demanding extra energy from our mind and body.
If you have ever admired another for their ability to be organized, ask about their routine. Most often they have implemented a set of habits to their routine that keep them on task and up to date; they empty the dishwasher before breakfast, lay-out their clothing the night before, and sort and action the mail when it arrives. These habits, built into their daily routine, help them stay level-headed, stress free and organized.
This week we celebrate the end of another year and usher in 2016 filled with promise and new possibilities. It is a time of self-reflection, recognition of our achievements and making resolutions for the coming year. Experts will tell you that in order for your resolution to succeed define a realistic habit to your daily routine. Top those habits up with realistic milestones and soon those habits will become second nature. It is easy to say I want to run more in 2016 but you are more likely to succeed if you say I commit to running 30 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday and to sign-up for a 5K run in April.
So what resolution does a professional organizer make for the New Year? What would I like to have better organized? – Our family photos. We have thousands of digital photos from the last ten years, all stored on an external drive, sorted by year and month. Sound organized? Yes, but what good are they doing on a device in a closet never to be accessed, viewed and enjoyed. What is the point of capturing memories in photographs never to be viewed? I’ve talked about printing photo albums for years, yet the digital photos increase by the day and I haven’t printed a new album in years. Therefore I have made the following commitment to myself for 2016: 1) I will reserve maximum two hours every week to back-up all new photos, delete duplicates and make a selection for printing; and 2) I will commit to creating and printing an annual photo book each month. Since I am about 10 years behind I aim to be caught up by October.
If you have being better organized in 2016 is on your resolution list begin by looking at your routine and habits. Start small, don’t say I am going to organize the whole house, rather commit to tidying for 15 minutes before bed every day. Set a realistic and obtainable goal and share it with someone that can hold you accountable. If you need extra guidance structuring your resolution, Gretchen Rubin the author of the Happiness Project has written a new book on habits, Better Than Before. According to Rubin “when we change our habits we change our lives”. Here are six questions she poses you to ponder when creating your resolutions.
Whatever habits you look to change and resolutions you promise to make I wish you health and prosperity in 2016.
Happy New Year!