Just under a year ago, I set out to conquer clutter and resolved to whip my home into shape one drawer, cupboard, and shelf at a time. This post is a continuation of a series I began on Monday, sharing an overview of five steps that I have learned along the way that have helped make getting organized a reality for me. Yesterday, I talked about how to Be Intentional With the Process; today, I am tackling how to Make Specific Goals.
Step 2: Make Specific Goals
It’s funny how much like dieting, exercising, or handling a budget getting organized can be. I touched on this yesterday, and also awhile back when I compared talked about keeping a household space budget. Mostly, this is because all these things require self-control and willpower in order to bring about positive change. However, it is also because that we tend to make these things goals of ours. We can visualize ourselves 20 pounds lighter, able to hoist heavy barbells with ease and finesse, and making final payments on our student loans to become debt-free at last. The problem is, if you only visualize the end result, you’ll get lost in the daily drudgery.
That’s why experts in so many fields recommend making specific goals and rewarding yourself for reaching them in small increments. They call them SMART goals. This means they are:
I’ve seen this used from everything from time management to weight loss and it is a good formula because it forces you to think things through and be able to track your success. To put this in perspective, consider this example:
“I want to get organized.”
Is it specific? Not really. Is it measurable? Nope. Is it achievable? Perhaps, but you’d have a hard time knowing when you had completed your goal. Is it realistic? Yes. You CAN get organized. But it is not realistic to expect that all areas of your life will be instantly organized by willpower alone. That also takes time. Which brings us to … is it time sensitive? No. There isn’t a deadline. There isn’t a goal date. You might get organized fully for one day twenty years from now, but that won’t help you this year. It will be very easy to become exhausted and discouraged when trying to reach this goal.
“I want to clean out and organize the hall closet by Thursday, so that we can fit our winter coats and easily access sporting gear for the kids.”
Is it specific? YES. This is for the hall closet. Is it measurable? YUP. If you can fit the coats and find the sporting gear, you have succeeded. Is it achievable? YOU BETCHA. Even if it takes several days and interruptions, it is a manageable task that will not be tossed aside and forgotten because it took too long. Is it realistic? SURE. A small hall closet is a great starting point for a household organizing venture. Is it time-sensitive? ABSOLUTELY. You want it done by Thursday. You can always extend the deadline, but for now it is doable and you can step back Thursday evening and appreciate your handiwork. (I’d say now is the time to reward yourself with a nice brownie sundae. That is, if you aren’t working on losing those 20 pounds.)
This is basically what I’ve been doing for the past year. Sometimes I slip up and say vague, unhelpful things like “I need to clean up this place. It’s a wreck.” Those are the days when I sit on the couch and ignore the piles around me. (Full disclosure? This happens more often than I would like.) On a whole, however, I’ve found it has been very useful to tackle bite-sized projects that I can step back and admire after I’m done. Keeping up with this blog has been a huge motivation for me to keep up the good work, and it has also helped me make specific goals by thinking about how I could write a post about my latest project!
So, take a look around you … what specific goals can you make today that will improve your household organization?