Is anybody as organized as they’d like to be? Probably not, but still, we all know at least one person who’s such a red-hot mess they make us look like a model of minimalist precision in comparison. There are so many disorganized folk out there, in fact, that getting yourself organized is consistently one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.
Last year, we asked some experts how to get yourself more organized. This year, we’re looking at what it’s like to actually transform yourself from shambolic to orderly. For help, we very methodically reached out to professional organizer Ashley Moon Stanfield of Creatively Neat.
What It Does to You After a Week
“New Year’s is like seeing a motivational speaker who pumps you up, but within a few days, you’re back to your old ways,” says Moon. It’s true — you’re gonna be excited at first: Whether you’re excited to start using a planner to keep track of your meetings and appointments or you’ve simply cleaned out your closets, you’ll be running on a high at first.
Of all the resolutions, in fact, this may be the only one where you’re likely to be feeling great right away. Being disorganized is a huge mental burden, so the feeling of weight being lifted makes you happier and optimistic that — someday at least — you’ll be able to organize other parts of your life that you hadn’t even thought about overhauling! (Well, a man can dream.)
What It Does to You After a Month
If you’re coming into this unprepared for the maintenance, or just as a super messy person, there might be some shock at the amount of upkeep required. It’s pretty easy to get yourself organized once, but the trick to being an organized person is to, well, stay organized, so if your place is looking messy again just four weeks after clearing it up, you may start losing faith in yourself. According to Moon, being organized is a way of life, so if you grit your teeth and see this part through, it should get easier to stick with it.
Making things tougher is the fact that right about now is when whatever urgency you had, or perhaps the novelty of the effort, might start to wear off. “Once there’s no longer a sense of urgency, people often get comfortable again, and then before you know it, things are unmanageable,” says Moon. “People sometimes give up or lose motivation once they’re comfortable.”
What It Does to You After Six Months
By now, you may have witnessed the knock-on effects of being organized. Good things tend to happen when you take a giant step and “unblock” something in your life — Moon tells us that she had a client who took the difficult and emotional step of getting rid of her ex-husband’s stuff, and within a week, her boyfriend proposed to her. The way Moon saw it, it’s as if her client were literally making space for him.
Plus, if you’ve stuck with it this far, you’ve probably added some other things to the list of things you wanted to clean or organize: The garage, the spare bedroom, the stuff in your parents’ attic that they always bug you about. Or maybe you’ve gone ahead and done them. With the practice you’ve had so far, it doesn’t seem so daunting to take on a new project.
What It Does to You After a Year
By now, being organized is a lifestyle. Maybe it’s led you to the path of minimalism, for which there are a million blogs and resources online. It could be you’ve simply evolved into a savvy person who knows the value of the things you decide to hold onto, and what to let go of. You’re now aware of how much mental space that clutter can take up in your head, and how much stress that causes.
It’s a real difference maker: Moon had another client who started off as anxious but is now the polar opposite, a veritable paragon of chill. He started by cleaning out his business’ warehouse — this allowed him to relax and better manage his staff and his clients. He ended up hiring more staff, and his business improved — he then moved on to his own house and overstuffed garage. He has since had another baby with his wife. It’s amazing how, with organization, one thing can lead to another.
“Getting organized changes lives, literally,” says Moon. “It changes our finances, relationships, confidence, and I would even say, the clarity of our life purpose and the courage to live it.”