Colette Robicheau is a jack of all trades, and master of many things. Organization, decluttering, productivity are among her enviable areas of expertise; on top of being a speaker and author she also runs Organize Anything, a company aimed at helping people get their ducks in a neat and tidy row and to help them kick ass in their home, work or online lives. Because a new year is a logical time to refocus your goals and ambitions, she offers up some advice for making and breaking habits and getting your affairs in order.
Set realistic goals
“Striving for perfection is not a good place because there’s a no win there,” says Robicheau of the common mistake of setting goals too big and broad. She suggests focusing on smaller tasks (as small as remembering to put your keys in the same place every day) that are specific to your individual needs. “Go smaller and lower your expectations. It’s about habitualizing and working on tasks. It’s hard to create new things, and it’s hard to undo things, too.”
Don’t shy away from routines
If you’re constantly picking away at small, achievable goals you might not find yourself having to completely reset every time you ring in a new year or season (plus, celebrating small successes more often is never a bad thing). Robicheau suggests piggybacking new habits on to ones you already have. “If you’re tying it to something you always do, you’re going to get it done,” she says. Pair your laundry night with your weekly grocery shopping, purge summer clothes when you pull your winter coat and boots out of storage, get your annual physical on your birthday or have a standing ladies’ night on pay day.
Build in marginal time
Setting aside a weekend to dig out is one thing, but are you leaving yourself enough time to do everything you need to do on the daily? “We get off track by booking our schedule too full and not leaving time for catch up. In the work place especially,” says Robicheau. “People go to meetings all the time and have stuff that they have to do afterwards, but they don’t build in marginal time. Even the marginal time to drive to the meeting.”
Look forward to what’s next
Even if you’re absolutely dreading something, Robicheau says it’s important to keep a constant eye on the commitments, assignments and appointments that are coming up in your calendar. “One of the things that’s really healthy for us is looking ahead in our schedule,” she says. “It’s proven that if you finish the end of your day by looking ahead not only to what you have the next day, but glancing ahead to the week, that you will actually sleep better that night.” And couldn’t we all use that?
Obey the law of subtraction
You cannot pile on to your schedule without paying for it eventually. Practice weeding out what you can—even if it’s as simple as unsubscribing from unnecessary email newsletters, or making less time for toxic relationships. “A lot of times people think of being organized as a stuff thing, but it’s more than that,” says Robicheau. “It can also be a too busy thing. If I want to do a zumba class something’s gotta go. When we add in new things, we have to think about what has to let go.”