If you're like many of us, this month means exchanging gifts with friends, family, and colleagues. We've already looked at ways of making sharing presents with others a relatively clutter-free experience (see the link below). This time around, I want to suggest four gifts you can give yourself in 2007. The best part? They cost nothing and don't require any storage.
#1: An appreciation of quality over quantity
Yes, you've heard me say this many times before; I keep repeating it because it's so true. When it comes to many things in life--stuff, experiences, relationships, tasks--there's something to be said for opting for better rather than more. This doesn't mean you need to shell out for the most expensive things you can find, drop the casual relationships you have with people who might not be in your everyday life, or focus solely on those tasks that are absolutely critical. It just means that it's worth developing an awareness and an appreciation of when higher quality will serve you better than larger quantity.
#2: A willingness to give yourself more importance than your stuff
If you devote more time, money, effort, attention, and care to the things in your life than you do to yourself, it's time to change the balance. Take back the living room that's been occupied for the past few years by things you were sure you'd use someday. Donate the knicknacks lining your shelves that take an hour to dust each week, and use that time to do something nice for yourself. Take a look around: if the things in your home or office aren't supporting your life as you're living it now, let them go and allow yourself to simply enjoy the space and the possibility.
#3: A truce with perfectionism
Forget about the old maxim "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right." Sure, there are tasks that deserve your utmost attention and care, such as caring for a sick family member or putting the finishing touches on a major project at work. But so many other tasks we're faced with each day deserve honest attempts to do them well but certainly not perfection. Vacuuming the floor, folding laundry, filing papers, doing the dishes, tidying up your office at the end of the day: by all means, do them, but give yourself permission not to have to do them perfectly.
#4: One new good habit
In organizing as in so many other aspects of life, good systems and good equipment are nothing without good habits; even the most comprehensive, logical, and well-stocked filing system will fail, for example, if you don't use it on a very regular basis. So in 2007, rather than focusing so much on the end goal of a new year's resolution, focus instead on one good habit you can develop to help get you there. Want to make better use of your commute time? At the end of each day, make sure your bag is packed with a book on tape, a language cd, a magazine, or supplies for letter writing. Want a more organized office? Get in the habit of starting or ending each day with five to ten minutes of planning and de-cluttering time.
Whatever habit you choose, the most important thing you can do is give yourself the gift of making every effort to stick with it. With enough repetition, it will soon become something almost effortless. And while that type of gift may not be as exciting up front as something you unwrap, chances are it'll be far more valuable in the long run.
Happy holidays to you and yours, and best wishes for a joyful, healthy, organized new year!