91.25 hours. Over the course of a year, that’s how much time you would spend on something if you devoted just 15 minutes a day to it.

I mention this because my New Year’s Resolution last year was to spend 15 minutes a day decluttering. That might mean whittling down a stack of papers on the kitchen counter one day, cleaning out an overstuffed dresser drawer on another, and tackling an overloaded bookshelf in my office on a third.

As I look back on the year, I can report mixed results. I didn’t do 15 minutes every day as consistently as I’d have liked, but I did it more often than not. And I’m still working at it as the year comes to a close. That in itself is worth noting, since most people’s New Year’s Resolutions went by the wayside long before now.

A better measure of success, though, would be to look around my home and office and see the difference it has made. I still have more work to do, but a few places where clutter used to collect are now free and clear. And I’m trying to keep them that way.

I’m pretty sure that of the people who actually make New Year’s Resolutions, most don’t remember from year to year what they resolved to do. Unless it’s always the same thing – quit smoking, get in shape, lose ten pounds.

Since I usually devote a column each year to my New Year’s Resolutions, I have a record – in black and white – of everything I’ve resolved to do, or quit doing, each year. Which means I can easily look back and determine how successful I was. Some resolutions started out with the best of intentions, but never got much further than that. Some lasted a while before fizzling out. And a few have turned into habits and routines that I still follow.

This year, I’m going to do a variation of last year’s resolution. Instead of organizing and decluttering for 15 minutes a day, I resolve to finish one complete project every week. And it can be anything – it doesn’t have to involve cleaning up or clearing out different areas of my home. One week might be devoted to cleaning out my kitchen cabinets, another to updating my website. And by spending a full week on each project – rather than 15 minutes a day – I’ll focus more on the results than the process. I will get in the habit of looking over my list of projects and selecting one every Sunday, and on Saturday I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of having completed it.

My first project will be to compile a list of projects I want to complete next year. I’ve already started, and would like to have either 25 or 50 items – six months’ worth or a full year, figuring two weeks off for vacation – as the New Year begins. The list itself can be a work in progress that I add to or amend over the course of the year. It will also be a way for me to prioritize the things I want to accomplish. At the end of the year, it will provide a record of all that I did, as well as a reminder that I kept my word and stuck to my New Year’s Resolution all the way through December.

Feel free to join me if you want to enjoy the success and satisfaction of completing 50 specific projects in 2014. Start by compiling a list of things you would like to accomplish. Include some from different areas of your life – home and office, personal and professional. Don’t discount things that seem too small or insignificant to include on your list, or that seem daunting and overwhelming. Once you get some momentum going and some successes built up, you’ll feel more confident about taking on your more challenging goals. Or you’ll break them down into more manageable projects – the kind you know you can complete in a week.

Whether you end up spending more or less than 91.25 hours on this over the course of the year, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with all that you have to show for it by then. And, like me, you’ll be ready to set a powerhouse new resolution for 2015.

Happy New Year!

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 26, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013

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