Eating an elephant one bite at a time

By LISA PHILLIPS / Guest Columnist

Now that the excitement and motivation has lingered with our New Year’s resolutions, are you on track or have you swept those dreams and goals away? The first 21 days are crucial for developing a habit in changing behavior. Sometimes we grow impatient when we have a goal and do not see immediate results. The most common resolutions are to lose weight and get organized.

We all know you can not lose 20 pounds in the first 3 weeks of going to the gym, just as we know your time and space will not be magically organized overnight. What we know works are small, incremental changes. Here are five tips in making small tweaks to your daily routine that will produce less clutter, help prioritize activities, and will be easy to remember.

-Deal with mail daily: iRAFT: Immediate, Read, Action, File, Trash. Immediate means deal with it within the next 5 minutes, set up a place for all reading materials, have a basket for your action items, file away the items that need keeping, and throw away the rest.

-E-mails: Turn iRAFT into electronic form. Immediate means Reply; Read means move to a folder marked “To Read;” Action can be left on screen; File means move to appropriate folder; Trash means hit Delete.

-Prioritize: Start (or end) your day with the six most important things to do. Divide into four categories: Family, Personal, Work and Other. Focus on the 24 things that are most pressing each day.

-Clear your desk or kitchen table off completely each Friday: If you are not disciplined to do this every day, promise yourself you will do it once a week.

-Take 5: Remove (trash, recycle, donate) five things from your space each week. The No. 1 reason why we are not more organized is that we don’t have time. While it may be hard to devote a whole day or weekend to cleaning your garage or office, you can break it down into small tasks.

It is not too late to pull those New Year’s promises back out and tackle them with small changes. Eating an elephant can be done as long as you focus on the next bite — just like your New Year’s resolutions!

Lisa Phillips, owner of SimpleWorks, can be reached at lisa_phillips@bellsouth.net, or 981-7733.