7 New Year's Resolutions To Organize Your Life If 2018 Was Kind Of A Total Mess

Is it just me, or is the phrase “new year, new you” not only tired, but also wildly outdated? Times are changing, friends. The world is (slowly but surely) progressing, and so is the concept behind New Year’s resolutions. What was once seen as a time to completely change who you are at your core is now an opportunity to refine that persona, to enrich your sense of self. So as you start brainstorming the changes you’d like to make in 2019, rather than trying to completely rearrange your entire lifestyle, why not set New Year’s resolutions for better organization? That way, the next 12 months can (hopefully) run relatively smoothly and allow you to live your best life — who knows, it might even give you the opportunity to learn more about the type of person you are.

There’s something about the infinite possibilities of a clean slate that make me so excited for the new year. To me, Jan. 1 marks a new beginning, a fresh chapter, a blank page that invites you to add to your life story. OK, I’m getting cheesy, but for me personally, New Year’s resolutions have always been important because they set the tone for the year ahead — at least initially.

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According to U.S. News & World Report, about 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail, and fail fast. In fact, in an interview with Elite Daily back in November of 2017, Dr. Steven Levine, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and founder and CEO of Actify Neurotherapies, told me that, because “it can take weeks to months to start to see any benefit” from the resolutions people set out to achieve, most people will give up on their goals as early as February.

But that was then, and this is now. 2019 is yours for the taking, my friend, and I fully believe that setting an intention to become more organized in the new year is doable. To set you up for success, I reached out to a few experts in the space, who offer their best tips for decluttering the mess that 2018 made.

Make To-Do Lists Daily

In college, my most prized possessions were my planner, wall calendar, and desk calendar — all of which I'd update on a daily basis. Some might call me a control freak, but I like to think I'm just super organized. These days, I don't own a zillion different calendars, but I do own a day planner, and I draft a to-do list in the notes section every morning.

Having a tangible list in front of me as a reminder of everything that needs to get done is extremely helpful because it keeps me accountable and focused on my goals. But, as ACE-certified health coach and behavior change specialist, Ali Zabel, BSBA, tells me, you can't necessarily let lists consume your life, because changes do come up when you least expect them to. So the best way to create and refer to a to-do list, Zabel says, is to use a method she calls the "brain dump."

"[A brain dump] is where you take absolutely everything from every part of your life that you need to do in the future both near and far," Zabel tells Elite Daily in an email. "Once you have everything listed out, then make categories of the three to four most common areas you see on your list. Now take everything from your 'brain dump' list and put them into the appropriate categories."

From there, Zabel explains, you can prioritize what needs to get done now, and which to-dos might not be as pressing. "Sometimes we get consumed with things we need to do in the future and overlook what needs to get done soon," she adds.

In terms of how you should go about planning your days, I personally love planners, especially this one from Savor Beauty that breaks the year down into 90-day increments. But, if you prefer using the computer to get organized, Zabel recommends signing up for Trello Boards.

De-Clutter Your Closet

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I recently did a major clean-out of my entire wardrobe, and I can honestly say I've never felt better about that part of my bedroom. What can I say? I love clothes, but I've also gotten into the habit of hoarding them over the years, and sometimes a closet cleanse is all too necessary.

If you know for a fact that you currently own pieces of clothing or accessories you don't and do not plan to wear, do yourself a favor by grabbing a few garbage bags, and get to organizing ASAP.

Don't know how to start? Dr. Raj Gupta, wellness expert and founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center, tells Elite Daily the first step is simple (and kind of invigorating): empty your entire closet. Next, rummage through the pile and "remove clothes that you haven’t worn in over a year." From there, Gupta says the easiest route to take is to make separate piles of what you want to keep, and what you want to throw away.

You can organize your clothes by season, pack ones you won't wear now away for later, and a good general rule of thumb moving forward would be, for "each new item that you put in your closet, donate another one," Gupta suggests. That way, you can avoid another massive clutter-bomb in the near future.

Finally Organize And File All That Scary Paperwork

I don't know about you, but the amount of paperwork that #adulting entails makes me cringe. There are bills here, receipts there, and important documents, like car insurance contracts and apartment lease agreements, you should really hold onto. The problem is, where the heck do you put them all?

"One item I can say completely changed my organizational life is the Freedomfiler," Corrie LoGiudice, a life coach, author, and speaker, tells Elite Daily over email. "I used to absolutely hate filing bills and other paperwork, and this system makes it super easy to organize my paper clutter in a way that's easy for me to sustain."

Pro tip: If an entire filing system is way too intimidating, a good ol' fashioned folder has never steered me wrong.

Meal-Prep And Set Designated Workout Times That Fit Your Schedule

If your closet is already under control, and all of your important papers are tucked away in a drawer, maybe 2019 is going to be about re-organizing your health and fitness routine, instead. Keep in mind that balance is key, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to always stay consistent. Let yourself indulge once in a while, and listen to your body. Trust me, it knows best.

That being said, Eric and Ryan Johnson, co-founders of the fitness platform Homage, tell Elite Daily over email that things like "meal prepping at the beginning of the week, having a training program for the gym, sticking to [a] workout schedule, and sometimes even using a rotation of the same meals you’re familiar with," can help you stick to your goals in the long run.

Be Honest With Yourself About What You Can Accomplish

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Remember, Superwoman is a fictional character, and IRL, no one can actually do it all and still be able to function properly by the end of the day. In other words, continue to make your to-do list first thing in the morning if it helps you stay on track, but don't forget to be realistic about how much you can actually take on. It's admirable to be ambitious, but you don't want to over-exert yourself to the point of exhaustion.

"So many people overload their daily to-do lists when, in actuality, only one to two things are actually time-sensitive," LoGiudice explains. "Take care of the time-sensitive stuff first, and then tackle the rest, giving priority to the tasks that bring you closer to your set goals. If it doesn't, it's not worth having on your to-do list at all."

Create A Morning Routine You'd Gladly Wake Up For

You don't have to be a morning person to be successful, but a lot of jobs do require you to wake up early and get the day started before noon. So rather than moan and groan your way through the mornings of 2019 like you did in 2018, consider switching the script. Get in the habit of going through a morning routine that makes you feel good about the day ahead, no matter how early you're forced to rise and shine for it.

Despite all the leisurely, hours-long morning routines you might see on social media, "all you really need is a good 10 minutes to yourself," Zabel tells Elite Daily. "Find something that helps you connect to yourself and setting your intentions for that day. Whether it is meditation, journaling, visualization, breathing exercises or a light workout, find something that helps you be the best version of yourself and connect with how you would like your day to go."

Get Ready For Bed With A Soothing Bedtime Routine

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Unless you're superhuman, which I am willing to bet none of us are, you can't function properly during the day if you haven't clocked in enough shut-eye the night before. Similar to how creating a morning routine is essential for waking up and feeling ready to take on the day, establishing a calming bedtime routine that brings you high-quality sleep should be a priority, too.

Karla Starr, a public speaker, coach, and author of the book Can You Learn to Be Lucky?, says the first, and most important step in your nighttime routine should be ditching your phone, laptop, TV — whatever device you're attached to that emits blue light. This is because blue light actually messes with your melatonin production, keeping your body alert and your mind awake.

From there, Starr tells Elite Daily that she personally enjoys taking that newfound extra time to review her day. "Think about what went well, and what you could have done better for others," she says. "I use those ideas to think about my day ahead and how I can make it as good as possible."