Have you resolved to get more organized in 2014? The following suggestions are ways to ensure you actually accomplish the goals you’ve set.
Get a buddy or a support group
Here’s what works best for me when I’m trying to keep a resolution: involving other people in helping me reach my goal. One of my goals is to go walking daily. I have been most successful when I had a walking buddy as we’d keep each other going. Another thing that worked, although not quite as well, has been to get a Fitbit. I have friends that also use Fitbits, and we see each other’s daily step counts, and cheer each other on.
I’ve also found that having an accountability partner works well for me. For the past few months, I’ve been exchanging daily emails with a friend, telling her what I accomplished that day, and often mentioning my plans for the next day; she sends similar messages to me. Knowing I’m going to tell someone what I’ve completed inspires me to have good news to report every day. We’re each other’s cheering squad — and who couldn’t use one of those?
Be willing to adjust if necessary
If you find you’re having a hard time with a particular resolution, maybe you need to rethink it. For example, could you reach your goal using a different strategy than you originally had in mind?
Let’s say your goal was to keep up with your mail (or your email) and not let things pile up in your inbox. Maybe you intended to clear out your inbox every day. If that’s not working for you, what could you adjust? Would it work better to tackle this at a different time of day? Would it work better to set this as a weekly goal rather than a daily goal? Would it help to focus on eliminating the incoming mail, so there’s less to go through each day? Could someone else do a part of the “dealing with the mail” work?
You may find the resolution you set was simply overly ambitious. Maybe the answer is to set a new goal that still moves you in the right direction, even if it doesn’t take you quite as far, quite as quickly.
Make things easy; remove barriers
Continuing on the mail example: Do you get a lot of items that require shredding? If so, do you have a good shredder?
More generally, make sure you have the tools you need to support you in reaching your goals. For example, when I needed to get more exercise, one thing I needed was a pair of better shoes than the ones I had.
Understand the science of habits
Stopping bad habits and developing new ones isn’t always easy. If you understand more about how habits work, you may find it easier to get those new habits in place. One place to start would be The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, which looks at some recent research on this subject. Steve Silberman has an informative review of the book, as well as an interview with Duhigg.
It’s also worth realizing, as Margaret Lukens points out, establishing new habits might take longer than the 21 days or 30 days you’ve probably heard about. If it’s taking a while for your new habits to become automatic, that’s normal — and no reason to get discouraged.