Houses & Homes: 2018: Your Year to Get Organized... For Good!

What’s not to love about the New Year?  We get to start off with a clean slate, a blank canvas, endless possibilities.  We get to dream about what we’ll accomplish this year, and getting organized is generally in the top 5 favourites depending on what poll you look at.  

Except, not everyone feels so good about the New Year and the resolutions that some like to associate with it.  This is most likely due to the fact that while 40% of our American neighbours make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% of those people actually achieve their New Year’s goals according to a study done by Scranton University.  Then on goes the spiral about feeling crappy about ourselves, unless maybe this year is the year we’ll reach our goal?  Did you know the average person makes the same resolution 10 times without success?  No wonder some people see this time of year coming with fear in their hearts!

What if part of these dismal stats are due to some of us reacting more positively to expectations than others?  Have you ever noticed how some people naturally follow rules while others will react by doing the exact opposite of what’s being asked of them?  Author Gretchen Rubin came to the conclusion that depending on how people react to external and internal expectations, they will fall under one of four tendencies.  And that’s where things get interesting!  What if we looked at our resolutions through the lens of our tendency to better reach our goals? You can take the quiz here!  

The Obliger responds well to outer expectations but has difficulty sticking to inner expectations.  What’s another word for inner expectations?  Yeah, goals or… resolutions.  The Rebel is all-around resistant to expectations, both the ones others put on them aaaaand the ones they have for themselves.  The Questioners find it easier to meet their own inner expectations but unless outer expectations make sense to them, good luck getting them onboard your project.   The Upholder on the other hand responds well to both internal and external expectations but let’s face it, everyone could use a little help from Rubin’s research to make their life easier at checking off their goals and modifying their habits.  

Gretchen Rubin speaks to my heart when she writes ‘’Outer order contributes to inner calm” so let’s take a look at how I would recommend you apply the knowledge we have about the Four Tendencies in order to reach your New Year’s resolution, pertaining to organization.  While there are 21 strategies Rubin has found, each tendency reacts more favourably to certain strategies than others.

Obligers - Rally with an accountability partner!

Let’s start with Obligers, both because they represent the largest piece of the Four Tendencies’ pie but also because they have greater difficulty doing something for themselves than they do for others.  For Obligers, the magic sauce lies in finding a way to set up external accountability.  Whether you call a professional organizer to offer both technical help and motivation (think of us like a personal trainer but for your home organization goals. You go to the gym when you have an appointment with your trainer.  You get your home organized when you work with a professional organizer, because you’ve committed to this task and to the person you’re working with!)  Remember if your budget is a bit tight, many organizers offer virtual organizing services in one hour blocks, to get you to focus on one project at a time, offer the ideas to put in place yourself, and then continue at your own pace.  If a professional organizer is not yet part of your budget, you can also declare to a friend or family member that your goal is to organize the pantry by January 31st and to hold you accountable to it or else you’ll do the dishes all week / take them out to the movie of their choice or whatever commitment motivates you to reach your goal instead of paying up!

Rebels - Find your distinctive edge!

Rebels resist all expectations, but find great pride in choosing a new path or at least one that’s not very popular.  So don’t even think about Konmari-ing your way into organization.  She’s way too mainstream!  One thing you could do is list all the areas you want to organize in your house, and then to respect your freedom needs, choose what you want to do today.  You can trust yourself and your intuition to do what you need to do.  To increase your chances of success make sure your Why is very clear ‘’I’m organizing my home so that I have more space and margin to do the creative projects I’d like to do but don’t have enough space to do right now.”  Finally making sure this project becomes part of your identity, who you are - “I’m someone who always knows where to find her keys because I always hang them on this hook right here when I come home”.

Questioners - Let me prove it to myself!

The most important strategy for Questioners is to have a strong Why.  Your clear Why will act like a rudder.  Monitoring will also act favourably to help you reach your goals.  You can monitor how much money you made by selling your extra unused stuff on Kijiji or write up a huge bucket list on a chalkboard wall with each space you want to organize and why.  Crossing off each space as you get it done will give you great satisfaction.  The strategy of Distinction is another interesting one, where you can decide to try a method, for example the Konmari method ‘’as an experiment’’ and then decide to tweak it so that it suits your needs.  For example, in my case (Hi my name is Mylène and I’m a Questioner.  Hi Mylène.) the Konmari method works wonders for my book collection.  But don’t ask me to thank my socks.  That makes no sense to me, although I respect you if you choose to thank your socks nonetheless!

Upholders - The Golden Children of resolutions!

While Upholders are already internally set up to meet expectations all around, they can set themselves up for boosted success via the strategy of Scheduling.  Put it on your calendar and watch the magic operate!  If you put the task of cleaning out the fridge and re-organizing it this coming Saturday, you can bet your booty you’ll get it done.  Much like the Questioner, you’ll also find great success with Monitoring and Clarity.  You’ll also find you can use the Pairing strategy: ‘’I’ll only hang up my coat once I’ve hung up my keys on the hook.’’

So what’s your Tendency?  And what Strategy are you going to use to crush this year’s resolutions?  For more tactics and inspiration on the subject I highly encourage you to go pick up Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies.  Happy organizing!

Mylène Houle Morency is a Professional Organizer, Speaker and owner of Zen :: Organisation familiale, which specializes in organizing families with children ranging from newborn to the teenage years. She has the firm conviction that organized homes help parents become the parents they want to be, by freeing up time and diminishing stress. She has the privilege to lovingly test all her theories and organization inspirations on her husband and three children!