Getting organized tops New Year’s Resolution lists each year. But why wait until January to get started? There’s never a better time than right now to get organized. Here are strategies you can use to get a jump start on your organizational resolutions so 2012 can be your most organized year yet!

Decide WHY. Before you dive into an organizational project, determine why organization is important to you. Set some goals, write them down, and share them with those around you. Spending time exploring how organization is going to improve your life increases the chances that you’ll actually do it. Will organization save you time? Reduce stress? Save money? All of the above?

Determine WHERE to start. I suggest that you start with the place that has the greatest impact on your every day life. That could be the place where you spend the most time, or it could be the place that causes you the most stress.

Gather your TOOLS. An organizer’s tool kit may include garbage bags for trash and donations, index cards or sticky notes for categorizing items and labeling what stays and what goes, permanent markers, a note pad for follow-up action items, a tape measure, and plastic totes for storage or moving items.

Use organizational SYSTEMS that work for you! An organizational system is only worthwhile if it makes sense to you, is clear to others who will have access to it, and is maintainable on a regular basis. Are you an out of sight out of mind person? Then consider using clear or open containers so you can see what you’re storing. If you need color to help you categorize, build that into your system. If you’re a piler, not a filer, go with it…but recognize that your piles need a rhyme and reason to truly function.

Look for HIDDEN STORAGE. Oftentimes the most un-utilized space is vertical wall space. Use organizational tools that take advantage of your wall space such as wall mounted paper sorters, shelving and containers. Online retailers such as The Container Store and Organized A to Z are great resources for organizational tools that make the most of your space. A great way to take advantage of hidden storage space in your attic is a new product called the AtticMaxx Shelving System. This system uses the often wasted space between attic trusses to store infrequently accessed items such as holiday décor or seasonal gear.

Create organizational RULES to live by. If you don’t need it, don’t use it, or don’t love it, let it go. Live by a one-in, one-out policy—letting something old go before something new can come in. Set a deadline for periodicals—if they’re not read in a certain period of time, they go straight to the recycling bin. If you haven’t worn a clothing item in a year, donate it to someone who will enjoy it.  

Starting is easy, but continuing is hard. Crossing the organization finish line is amazing…celebrate it! But to maintain change, our work is never done. Once you get organized, you’ve got to maintain it. Daily, weekly, annually—you’ve got to keep reminding yourself why you want to be organized and how it makes your life more extraordinary. And really…that’s what it’s all about!