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4 | Bulletin vol. 34 no. 1 by Gretchen Rubin New York Times Best-Selling Author gives us tips and tricks for getting organized as we evaluate our goals in the new year and look towards the next academic year. Ge ing Organized In a New Year One of my great realizations about happiness is that for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. In the context of a happy life, something like an overcrowded coat closet is a trivial problem, and yet over and over, people tell me--and I certainly find this, myself--that creating order gives a huge boost in energy, productivity, and creativity. So I'm a big believer in the value of clutter-clearing. I'm also a big believer in using outer milestones as a catalyst for action or change. Whether that's New Year 's Day, Valentine's Day, Mother 's Day, or my birthday, these dates on the calendar remind me to reflect on how I might make my life better. Spring is an obvious time to think about clutter-clearing, but I also think about clearing clutter in the fall. I haven't been in school for a long time, but for me, September still marks the beginning of a new year. Orange is the new black, breakfast is the new lunch, Monday is the new Thursday, pork is the other white meat, and September is the other January. September gives the feeling of a clean slate, when the air seems charged with possibility and renewal. Because back-to-school is a time of self-evaluation and reflection, it's also a time when I feel the urge to clean out my office. If you want to create outer order as part of the new season, consider these manageable steps: 1 Focus on a single area. Some people get overwhelmed if they imagine spring-cleaning their entire surroundings. If that's your issue, focus on just one area. Tackle clothes, or papers, or books, or toys. Often, once you start, it's easier to keep going—and even if you create outer order in just one area, that's a gain. And while you're at it… 2 Fix whatever bugs you the most. Some experts argue that we should all start to clear clutter in a specific area, such as clothes. I disagree. I think we should fix the biggest nuisance. Most of us have many areas of clutter, but one particular area causes the most irritation. For me, it's the pile that accumulates in a corner of our bedroom. For someone else, it's the car; for someone else, an overflowing in-basket. On the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, my co-host and sister Elizabeth sometimes calls me a "happiness bully" because if I see an opportunity for someone to become happier, I can get pretty insistent. As part of this aspect of my personality, I recently convinced my friend Michael to let me help him clear out his apartment. For him, a big problem was the window sills. Gosh, we love to jam stuff onto our window sills! The benefit of clearing a window sill is that not only does it create more order, it creates more light, because the window isn't blocked. Photo credit: David Cross

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