posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken

Lots of us have given up making New Years' Resolutions. Not all of us, to be sure, given how crowded the gym tends to be at the New Year. I've been known to make resolutions--get rich, get famous, win the lottery etc.-- but I never followed through. In recent years the only one I really met was the "Fine Human Being" initiative. I vowed that at the end of every day, I would designate one person with whom I'd had contact that day--positive or negative--as a "Fine Human Being." I actually made it all the way through one year and well into another before my daily FHB fell by the wayside.

For 2008, I have resolved on behalf of my family to get the house in shape. Get rid of clutter. Organize. Donate or discard the detritus that's been piling up in our 35 years (36 as of March 15) in this house. If you've moved often, you have no idea how much Junque can pile up--especially if the owner has even a modicum of the TooGoodToThrowAwayDisorder, or TGTTAD. Besides which, getting general cooperation from my husband and my daughters, not to mention the three cats, is a pipe dream.

As a librarian, it's almost a federal requirement that I have the TGTTAD. My library desk area alone is locally famous for its workspace challenge. Putting me in charge of 250 years' worth of archives was either a brilliant move to take advantage of my TGTTAD or a disaster in the making. Time will tell.

On the home front, I am wont to apply my library skills to Home Economics. I was sorting books for donation to the library book sale when I came across a title I'd forgotten.Culp_book STEPHANIE CULP'S 12-MONTH ORGANIZER AND PROJECT PLANNER. Brandishing the slim volume, I reminded my housemates of our plan to sell the house and move someplace without all this snow, with the target date of mid-2010. Trust me, it will take that long to cull all our treasures into a manageable household.

I have lost count of the times I've Set Up A System for whipping the house into shape. I create notebooks, make lists, set priorities, and by then I'm exhausted and the family has wandered away from the table. Literally as well as figuratively.

So far I've gotten an agreement in place to work on one room a month in 2008 and to start with the dining room. I even spent a lot of time in December clearing out some of the clutter so we could (a) set up a gift wrapping center on the table and (b) actually eat Christmas dinner there. The bonus (c): the place was good to go for a little New Year's Eve party--although we only invited close friends who were not likely to wear white gloves or perform any visual inspections of the windowsills and the like.

I figured we were good to go, especially after I found the Culp book. Then I opened the book and realized I was still in trouble. The author has a "suggested" list of organizing projects that don't really parallel mine. For example, there is no "clean the dining room"Paper_stack month; my closest option is ...organize desk? Organize files? Organize tax records? Each of those is a one-month project in the book. I think I'll skip to July ("Sort through and catch up on reading materials") and then maybe August ("Vacation month! Time off is good for the spirit.")

Well, sure, I can make my own list, but who's gonna stand behind me on this? Where is my backup? My professional support system?

Ah, not to worry. Even if 2008 is a bust, organization-wise, we still have 2009. And inCulp_book_2 sorting another bookcase for items to donate to the library book sale, I came across a second copy of Stephanie Culp's 12-Month Organizer and Project Planner.

So here's my 2008 resolution: I will not buy another copy of Stephanie Culp's 12-Month Organizer and Project Planner.

At last--a resolution I can stick to.

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