the New Year’s Resolution Madness
By Kayla Lemar
Processes are my lifeblood. I spent most of my childhood summers
organizing “summer school” lessons for my younger siblings, a sure sign
that I longed for the order of school life. Changing classes, a
balanced load of assignments, easily defined due dates and
expectations—that’s what I live for.
My need for organization hasn’t changed. I took a position at a
non-profit organization this year that didn’t have an instruction
manual. I almost died. By the time I resigned, I’d written
one. It was one of those jobs where I hope I left something
behind to bless others, but more than anything was a blessing to me as
I learned skills like organization.
Organization, I learned, is arranging parts in such an order that they
are easily found, utilized, and replaced. The reason we organize
is to protect important things from being misplaced or damaged, and
that the key to any system of organization is that it speeds up or
de-stresses the process of accomplishing something.
That’s why there’s that slot at the top of your school desk for
pencil’s, instead of a jar on the other side of the room.
Organization should be like hitting the Staple’s Easy Button, and it is
really that simple, if you recognize the habits that might botch the
One such habit is collecting. I am a gifted collector. I
don’t say that because I have whole shelves full of porcelain dolls,
although I do. Rather, exams indicate that one of my greatest
strengths is input, the talent of pulling in.
You know a collector when you walk into your Aunt Bee’s house and it
looks like a museum or a library. The most talented collectors
utilize their gift to create something insightful and memorable.
But most of us start with the compulsion to admire, pick up or buy, and
place in our pocket—anything, like pop tabs, leaves, or fifty-cent
books from garage sales.
For collectors that don’t harness their talent, there tends to be a
build-up of junk. Rather than collecting useful things and
organizing them in meaningful ways, we collect things that clutter and
cut us out of our own space.
The shadow of a collector is the Fear of Not Having. Collecting
should be about the happiness finding and tending a treasure brings,
but sometimes we collect through a lens of fear.
The first key to organization is realizing that you only have so much
space in your life. There’s only so much time: 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, 52 weeks in a year. You only have so much
emotional energy, and it has to be split between yourself, boyfriend,
parents, siblings, friends, and that mangy dog you convinced everyone
would look good braided and bowed. You only have so much physical
strength, no matter how many Monster’s you drink. And there is
only so much space in your bedroom, probably 20-20 at best, maybe a lot
There’s no point in trying to organize things that don’t have value,
and take up space where valuable things should be sitting.
Start off your organizational process by sorting through your life and
deciding which things are worthy of your precious space. Things
you keep out of fear should be the first things to go. While a
collecting niche can be a blessing, the Fear of Not Having is
distressing and a waste of space.
If you find yourself organizing and re-organizing and re-arranging and
re-organizing again, you might have a problem other than junk
collecting. It’s called perfectionism and boredom.
Pick a system, and stick with it. Get a date book, an address
book, some filing cabinets, and storage tubs. Label it, and don’t
change the labels. Small adjustments here and there will of
course be needed, but take it from someone who rearranges her bedroom
and her life each week: too much organization is almost as bad as not
having any at all.
Remember the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If
your system works for you, leave it be. The need to constantly
tamper means you’re stressing over something that’s intended to
de-stress, or maybe you’re just bored, in which case go join some clubs
so you have commitments to organize.
I won’t tell you how to organize, because organization is a way to
streamline your time, energy, and talents into the most productive
areas, and I don’t know what those are for you. But Junior High
and High School is the perfect time to find out, and to practice.