January resolution wrap up, and introduction of February resolution

In 2011, I’m trying out small, monthly resolutions instead of large, annual New Year’s resolutions. My public resolution for January was to be more organized in the kitchen, and create and use more nutritious meal plans for my family. If you read SimpliFried, then you know I even made one of my meal plans downloadable for anyone who wants it.

The small goal worked well for me, and I’ll try to continue it into February along with my new resolution for the second month. I think the first resolution was successful because it was:

  • Scheduled. Every Monday I had “Meal Planning,” written on my calendar between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. The block of time on the calendar helped me to commit to it.
  • Prepared. I had the Harvard Medical School’s guide to healthy eating Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy as my nutrition guide, a blank meal planning worksheet, a pen, a stack of cookbooks, and my favorite recipes from the internet with me every time I made the plan.
  • Concrete. My goal to make and follow a weekly meal plan wasn’t lofty or ambiguous. What needed to happen was clear from the beginning and it was easy to break into action items.
  • Achievable. I knew it was possible to achieve the resolution, I just had to take the time and invest the energy to make it happen. Additionally, with fresh food in the house, I knew if I didn’t stick to the plans I would be wasting my money.
  • Accountable. By telling my family and the readers of this website that this was my resolution, I felt a greater sense of responsibility to carry out the goal. I’m not sure this was necessary since I wanted to do it, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

My plan had been to make February my Super Simple Month again this year, but it unfortunately looks like it’s not going to work. I’ll have to rearrange things on the calendar to try for it in March or April. One of my extended family members is very ill and I need to do some traveling this month related to her.

As an alternative, my public resolution for February will be to go through everything — absolutely everything — in my office. There will be uncluttering, organizing, rearranging, and a lot of paper processing. I spend the vast majority of my day in about 150 square feet of space, and this room needs my attention. To a visitor, my office doesn’t look cluttered, but I know what lies beneath. I know how stuffed my filing cabinet is and how many things are ready to go from this space.

Tonight, I’ll kick off my monthly resolution by splitting the room into zones and scheduling when I will address these zones on my calendar. One shelf a day, followed by one drawer a day, and so-on-and-so-forth until I’ve tackled the entire room.

Do you have resolutions? What are you doing to achieving them? Can you do something today to get one step closer to your goal?

15 Comments for “January resolution wrap up, and introduction of February resolution”

  1. posted by Lynn on

    Love this. We’re having another snow day at work, which gives me a whole day at home to spend as I please. I have a new printer/scanner/fax machine, so I am going to tackle one of my file drawers and see if I can give my shredder a good feast. I’ll reward myself with knitting breaks. One of this year’s goals (I do not make resolutions) is to pass both two-drawer file cabinets on to somebody who needs them and cannot afford them. I’ve already made noticeable progress, and now when I bring in the mail, anything I need to keep gets scanned within a day or two and then shredded for recycling.

  2. posted by megan on

    With Mozy’s latest announcement that they will be killing their Unlimited Backup service, I have a new resolution to streamline my data. The writing on the wall indicates that our data is going to start costing us more and more… especially as services start orienting to The Cloud.

  3. posted by Sue on

    The reason my desk was piled with papers was the lack of convenient filing. DH bought me a 2 drawer file cabinet, removed the shallow desk drawer, jacked up the desk and slid the cabinet under the desk. Since we are snowbound in Indiana, I spent yesterday sorting, purging and filing papers. My desk is CLEAN and can remain so, since it is now easy to file papers.

  4. posted by Rachael on

    My husband and I rarely use our office, so it has become a dumping ground for anything we can’t find a home for or that we want hidden before company arrives. I’m looking forward to updates on your office decluttering!

  5. posted by Lose That Girl on

    I try to make my resolutions one day at a time. Just get things done today, then try again the next day. Smaller bites works for me.

  6. posted by WilliamB on

    I see how one can clear out trash one small space (drawer, shelf) at a time. Please explain how one can organize a whole room one small space at a time? I’ve seen this recommendation frequently, but while I know how to reorg a whole space (even as big as a whole-house attic) I don’t know how to do it a little at a time.

  7. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    I had cleared off my desk and made a pile of stuff that needs to be filed, several weeks ago. I have been procrastinating because I now need to go thru my files before I add more stuff to them. I have never been happy with my filing system, alpha vs topic, vs reference vs records. So I just freeze and there it sits, lol!
    Maybe reading your posts will get me motivated! Bring them on!

  8. posted by christopher on

    Meal plans are easy to neglect but when I sit down with the family and plan meals, or just about anything else of significance, it seems that that part of life flows more easily.

  9. posted by momoboys on

    kudos on the meal planning. i agree–my whole week goes better when the food is selected in advance. it anchors our family, plus i love looking thru and strategizing which nights call for “quick” meals and which ones i can spend some time on. stretching ingredients, such as this week’s roast chicken morphing into chix dumpling soup, certainly does stretch the family dollar. not so much a concern in our household, but it does make me feel more free to “splurge” on a night out when we really need one.

    my goal for the year includes not taking any work home. ever again. have taken work home every night and weekend for 11 years i’ve had this particular job. was it necessary? no. i just felt compelled to. so i’m freeing myself of the compulsion. and man, you should see the flurry of activity in the afternoon to finish the workload i set for myself each day! the reward is i’m a less stressed out mom and wife. it’s good for all of us.

  10. posted by laura_ve on

    I think I will do something similar for my February aim. I need to unclutter my wardrobe and my office space (which is in the same room as my wardrobe), and I have some free time before my next row of exams at university comes up!
    So, one drawer per day, that’s what I’ll try to do.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  11. posted by EngineerMom on

    @WilliamB – I am in the middle of reorganizing each room in our house a little at a time. With a 2.5-year-old, I can’t pull too much out at a time!

    This has been my strategy, using my living room as an example:

    1. Have a general plan for the room. We’ve lived in this house for 1 year, and the living room has had about 5 different furniture arrangements, so we finally have a good sense for what works and what doesn’t. We moved the furniture into its current layout two weeks ago. That is my base. I don’t plan to move the furniture.

    2. Pick one area, such as a single bookshelf. Have five categories: Trash, Give/Sell, Another Room, Another Part of this Room, Replace (put back on whatever you took it off of). Take everything off the shelf, out of the drawer, or off that surface and put it into one of the categories.

    3. Clean the shelves, drawers, or surface. At this point, put in any additional organizational supplies, such as nonskid lining in drawers, bins on shelves, etc. If you don’t have what you need on hand, make a list of what you think you might need, but move on to the next step. DO NOT STOP.

    4. Put back everything in the Replace category.

    5. Put everything in the Another Room into its appropriate room. If you’ve already organized that room, find a spot for it right now. If you haven’t gotten to this room yet, just set the items down in the room somewhere.

    6. Either put the Give/Sell box in your car to take to your favorite charity, or write today’s month and year on the box, then store in a basement or attic. If you haven’t taken it out in 6 months to sell something, take the box directly to the charity. If you haven’t bothered to sell something in 6 months, you’re not going to. Just get it out of the house.

    7. Take the Trash bag out to your dumpster or trash can.

    8. Sort through the Another Part of This Room box and put items in their appropriate places.

    9. Move on to the next area and repeat the process.

    Working with this process, I was able to declutter, clean, and reorganize two bookshelves, two overly-full drawers, and my son’s entire toy collection in our living room. I did it in 30-45 minute segments over two days, with lots of breaks to care for a toddler. I’d say I spent about 4-5 hours total on this room.

    I started on the kitchen today, using the same process. The key is not to pull everything out all at once, but to finish each area you start. That way, if you get interrupted or just tired, you’ve still made progress and it’s not so overwhelming.

  12. posted by ecuadoriana on

    I did a monthly plan/goal for this year. And I got done EVERY THING I had planned for the month of January! It really worked.I didn’t just have things like “Get bedroom closet organized”. I also had career goals, and personal goals I wanted to meet. Felt really good to look back and see what I got done and achieved last month. Now I am even more motivated to get February’s plans/goals met. So far, one has come to fruition and it’s not even been a week into the month! I find that putting the word out there about what I want/need really helps get the ball rolling- so I have a support network. Last month I had announced to not only myself, but to everyone I came in contact with, that I was looking for a few more photography jobs and suddenly people started calling me! Power of suggestion really helps one achieve their goals!

    So I guess my point is: If plans and goals are only written down on a diary, or calendar, or a “list of things to do” and they don’t go any further than that, well then they won’t go any further than that! Gotta tell everyone that it’s going to happen. And it will.

  13. posted by Jadielady on

    One of my resolutions was to do less compulsive shopping. I’m a knitter, and in the social media world my other knitting friends are CONSTANTLY “enabling” eachother for great yarns, needles, bags, you name it.
    When I read your book, the bit with the questions to ask yourself before you buy something really spoke to me. i am proud to say i did not buy any yarn or knitting related stuff in January (or so far this month!)

  14. posted by ecuadoriana on

    @ Jadielady- oh! I hear you on this! I have a similar problem when it comes to fabric and sewing supplies! I like to make quilts and bags for fun. Every time I am in or near a store that has sewing notions I HAVE to look through the discounted or discontinued bin and would inevitably come away with a bag of fabric or thread because “Well, it only cost a couple of bucks! I couldn’t pass up the deal…” Yard sales, Goodwill, name it and I’d always find some cool cheap fabric that “I am SURE I could use for making a bag or quilt.” Consequently….

    So I was forced to make a deal with myself, hardcore style! I went “cold tofu” on buying anymore fabric, etc until I made at least 3 queen size quilts and 3 bags using up ONLY the stuff I had on hand. No “Just gonna run out & get some blue fabric to complete this…” NO! Use ONLY what I have and make the best of it. A great opportunity to spread my creative wings.

    I came up with several insanely patterned and colored quilts and bags (more than I originally planned on) and they were a hit with everyone who saw them! Even got some orders to make similar pieces. I thought “Wait, someone wants to PAY me to make something that looks like I scrounged around the bottom of my fabric bins?! HA!”

    So, sometimes even though it’s hard at first, making do with what you have on hand to use it all up is a fun and creative way to go. I can’t knit or crochet, but I am sure that you and your circle could just swap with each other the bits that you don’t want or need and all of you use up every bit of yarn you have to make some cool (and strangely patterned1) projects. Could sell them off at charity events…

    I’m now in the situation where, since I DID use up almost all my fabric, I only buy scraps from discount bins with a plan in mind and I won’t make another purchase until I’ve used up the stuff from the previous purchase. If I need some particular amount or color to finish a project I just call all my friends and ask if they have any scraps to give or swap. That keeps me from driving to the store for the purpose of buying only a yard of fabric, but then coming home with 20 yards!!!

  15. posted by cottonsocks on

    what a great idea, thanks for sharing.
    i’m starting on the 1st of april – tricks or not.

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