Organizing is a never-ending process. You can either get excited by this, or feel hopeless and overwhelmed. I suggest you get to choose how you feel about it. Try excitement on for size.

We can all, always, improve our organization, either by cutting clutter, refining where things go and how they are identified, purging files and stagnant resources and working on our productivity and time management. Approaching these things with excitement, “I get to!” versus “I have to” is really helpful.

There is something, however, that you must have or create in order to feel positive about organizing, and that is the time to do it. My most successful clients set aside time to organize and for maintenance and respect it as much as they would their work time or family time. You have to put it on your calendar and commit to it.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun. Put on music. Have a mindless TV show that you are sorta kinda following in the background. Or, my favorite, put on a really good series or movie and allow yourself 15 minutes of watching time for every solid 20 or 30 minutes of organizing time. The time will fly, especially if you also prepare by having some cold (non-alcoholic; we’re working after all) beverages and tasty snacks to enjoy during those breaks.

In golf, there is what’s called the “come back” shot, which is that one great shot that makes the entire time on the course worth it and keeps you coming back to the game. In organizing, a feeling of accomplishment and completion of specific projects keeps you coming back. Don’t take on the whole house, or even whole rooms. Break it down by drawers, cupboards, closets and files. You could even break down a file drawer by categories, for example, old bank statements one day, old auto records another day. When you end the day with one totally completed project it is much more effective at keeping you excited about organizing than having done a little bit in each area with nothing finished.

It’s especially important to keep your organizing projects reasonably sized if you are only able to work on them in the evening or on weekends. Watch out for “getting organized” becoming an awful weight hanging over your head, and keep a balance between some fun and some work. If you have gotten too far behind to handle it yourself, hiring help can get you started and ramp up the energy and excitement about your vision for your home or office. Often outside perspective is so helpful to take us out of overwhelm and into optimism with a few fresh ideas.

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Another thing you can do is visualization exercises and really get your goals for your home solid in your mind. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Visualize yourself walking up to your house. How does the garage look? The front porch? The entry way?

Visualize each room, each drawer, in detail. Imagine yourself living a life of ease, being able to find everything you need, being able to clean up from a meal or put away the laundry almost effortlessly. Breathe deeply and close your eyes and spend at least 10 or 15 minutes — longer is better — getting clear about your vision, then journal about it and remind yourself of it regularly.

A strong, positive vision is highly likely to keep you excited about your projects and there is tons of evidence showing that such an attitude makes all the difference in achieving a goal.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to www.houseinorder.com

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