As 2011 picks up steam, let's make it the Year of No Excuses. Getting organized always ranks among the top resolutions each year. The organizing goal could range from reworking your filing system to clearing out the storage unit.

If you have found yourself repeating the phrase "I've got to get organized" over the past months, or even years, make 2011 the time that it happens. Determine your excuse and then proceed to eliminate it.

The most common excuses I hear are:

A. "I don't have time."

Organization often gets put on the back-burner because everything else appears to be a higher priority. Yet, those other priorities would be accomplished so much more easily if you were organized. You have to actually book the time into your calendar or it will not happen.

B. "There's no place to put everything, so it just piles up."

There are two things to consider here:

• You are missing some areas that would make good storage. When you are in the middle of confusion, you often cannot look objectively at the area.

• You are keeping many more things than you need to have. If you have trouble determining what you should keep, enlist help from a family member, friend or professional organizing specialist. Have them talk you through why you are keeping excess or duplicate items. An outside opinion does not come with any emotional ties to the objects and can help you look objectively at both the space and each item.

C. "It would not make any difference if I organized everything because it would just be back next week."

That simply means that you have not truly created a system that works for you in the office or for you and your family at home. There is a big difference between cleaning up and creating effective systems that handle new items. If you feel you do not have the knowledge to develop the best processes, again you can enlist help. The up-front investment in time or cost will produce quick dividends.

D. "This is not all my stuff."

That might pertain to stacks of papers left by the last assistant you worked with, or your spouse's craft equipment, or the stuff you are saving for your kids. In the office, ask yourself when the last time was that you used those files. If it is another family member's accumulation, set up a time to work together on the clearing. For things you are saving for your children, be realistic. What are the chances they want that old dining room table 15 years from now versus the cost of your storing it?

E. "It might come in handy some day."

If you were to get rid of 100 stray items from the garage so that you could actually park your car in there now, and then one month later you needed a certain size board for a repair, how much would it cost to pick up another board? Contrast it with the feeling of freedom and accomplishment you get from the cleared space.

As you progress through 2011, change those excuses from, "I can't because..." to "I will because..."

• I'm worth it ... I have value to my family and friends.

• I operate better in orderly surroundings ... I'm more productive and earn more money.

• I like never losing things to clutter ... I don't have extra time to search for things.

Where there are excuses, there is clutter, and where there is clutter there are excuses. It's a good time to get rid of both.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Denise Landers is the author of Destination: Organization, A Week by Week Journey. She helps businesses and individuals accomplish more with productive office systems. Reach her at (602) 412-3876 or

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