Starting early – making it easier to decide & do

Planning for NEXT Christmas
(What better time than when the weather blusters?)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Habits, Decisions, Attention Series

Reviewing a Planning Concept using Christmas as a model

If you ever hope to live your life as an organized person – or even a more organized person – you need to think in terms of making sure you jettison the dead weight – those things that are working against you. Begin with a vision of where you’re going and the “somethings” that are keeping you from “gettin’ up and gettin’ on it.”

As I told you in several earlier articles

the further away from the moment of need the decision is made

  • the easier it is to make . . .
  • and the fewer the distractions that will disable you.

It’s always a good idea to front-end the decision-making process for any task you can’t seem to make yourself do early enough to avoid the last-minute scramble.  Planning in January is about as far from next December as possible.

Be sure to write it down, write it down, write it down. On paper.

Handwriting uses a different part of the brain and activates different pathways than typing into one or the other of our devices.

It also feels less like “doing” so is less likely to set you up for activation agita.

Most of us can follow simple “directions” fairly well – one at a time. Planning is like leaving breadcrumbs for yourself to follow later: directions!

Christmas Planning Lessons

Since, for many of us, it’s too cold to play outside much anyway, lets play an indoor game: planning.

Grab a planner, a pencil with a decent eraser and your favorite pen or hi-lighter, then snuggle in with your favorite cup of something warm and wonderful. Let’s plan next Christmas.

I can almost hear some of you moaning that Christmas comes too early already, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I start thinking Christmas the first time the temperature dips below 70 degrees.  January weather is clearly colder than that – where I live, at least.

Anyway, what better time than January to review the Christmas in our rear view mirror before it disappears from sight: what worked, what did not, what you wish you’d done, and where you put everything you just took down?

If you wait much longer you probably won’t remember much of anything very clearly – except the very best and the very worst.

Let’s use planning for next Christmas as a model for up-front planning for other things in our lives (like packing for a trip, finally organizing your kitchen so that it works for you, labeling the boxes and bins that you’ve stashed ladder-high, no longer sure what’s up there, and so on).

Christmas still up? Even better!

  • That means you haven’t stashed things away before you considered how best to store the items (and whether anything you used this year isn’t worth storing at all).
  • You can also still use your eyes to jog your memory. Since our emotions leave tracks, pay attention to any tightness in your body to tip you off about what didn’t work well this year.

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Part Two of the Stuff – and Nonsense Series
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,

Repeat after me:
OHIO is a STATE, not a system for handling stuff!

You know the term, right?  OHIO.  Only Handle It Once.  Pick up the first piece of clutter and move it to its final resting place in one swift masterpiece of organizational wizardry.

Get a grip!  If we’d had it together enough to only handle it once we would never have been in need of clutter management to begin with!

Edited excerpt from: Stuff – and Nonsense: an organizing miracle cure that doesn’t start by making
you throw out your stuff!
   ©1998, 2002, 2011 – Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC; all rights reserved

Part 2 of the Stuff series – CLICK here to read Part 1 first

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STUFF – and Nonsense!

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Hover before clicking for more info

Content in the stuff series has been excerpted from the upcoming book: Stuff – and Nonsense: an organizing miracle cure that doesn’t start by making you throw out your stuff!
 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, All rights reserved.

From Chapter 1


Nobody NEEDS all the stuff we collect.

IF they were brave enough to be perfectly honest, not even those who can barely walk through their houses because the sheer volume of all their stuff makes it tricky to maneuver would argue about that one.

HOWEVER, professional organizers and organizing systems that work from the premise of usefulness and need miss the point entirely.

Stuff is not about need, it’s about CHOICE.
And personal preference.  

Just because a large majority of professional organizers agree that life runs best from a base camp that looks to me like a vacant room in a Motel Six, that doesn’t make their paradigm, ipso facto, The Gold Standard for A Life Worth Living.

“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.”
~Anatole France

DISTINCTION: Preference vs. Policy

While those who prefer the stuff-less lifestyle would never believe it, those of us who are what they might call “stuff junkies” find it just as difficult to function in their “stuff-free” environments as they claim is true for them whenever the house doesn’t echo.  (And they think we’re the weird ones?!)

We like our stuff

We find it cozy to be surrounded by our stuff. Homey. We decorate with stuff because we like to SEE our stuff.  And we think they are bug-nutty to tell us to throw out perfectly good stuff that we know we’re going to have to spend time and money replacing when we need it later.

The only things we don’t like about our stuff are:

  • Hunting for it when we need it
  • Tripping over it when we don’t
  • Listening to complaints about it the rest of the time, and
  • Trying to come up with logical reasons why we won’t throw it away!!


Good!  Because, seriously, we still have to talk.

Somewhere between the black and white divide separating “so much stuff nobody can breathe for the clutter” and “throw out your stuff” is a nice, functional, gray zone that I promise you will like better. Hang with me here.

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