"I've got to get organized" is like "I've got to lose weight" or "I've got to get in shape." All of these statements -- while fine in their own way -- are flawed from the outset because they imply that the goal (organization, ideal bodyweight, ideal fitness) is something that you can "get" once and be done with it. 

Life doesn't work that way. 

"Getting organized" is fine as a starting point if you know that you're disorganized. Similarly, if 40 percent of your bodyweight is fat, it's easy to figure out that you need to burn off some pounds. Or if you can't do three pushups, then, yes, you need to start building up your strength. 

Yet being organized and living a healthy life are not projects, but sustained behaviors. Projects ought to have an endpoint: saying "I've got a project to build a deck in my backyard" makes sense, because you'll know you're done when the deck is complete. And saying "My current fitness project is to lose 20 pounds of fat" makes sense, because it's measurable and finite. 

But to stay in the target state -- which is the real point of "getting organized" or "getting in shape" -- implies building a new set of behaviors for yourself, and then perpuating and growing those behaviors for the rest of your life. 

You can build these new behaviors one project at a time. For instance, your first five projects for leading a more organized life might look like this:

  1. Collect all financial papers and file by category.
  2. Clean out garage and hold yard sale.
  3. Put up new shelves and reorganize pantry.
  4. Rearrange books and DVDs in alphabetical order.
  5. Reapportion household chores among family members.

And these might be your first five projects for building your lifetime fitness:

  1. Lose 20 pounds of fat.
  2. Walk three miles three times per week for three months.
  3. Memorize 10 recipes for healthy, quick dinners at home.
  4. Learn basic weightlifting routine from trainer at gym.
  5. Buy membership in local farm co-op for fresh vegetables. 

Once these are in the books, you can add more projects or tasks over time. But you need to understand from the outset that the larger goal of being organized or being healthy will be an ongoing cycle, like eating or sleeping. Some days you'll pursue the cycle well, some days you'll do it poorly, but you'll need to do it every day of your life regardless. 

That's just the way life works, and there's no sense in complaining about it. In fact, you might as well embrace it. Once you do, you probably find that the cultivation of better behaviors over the long term is enjoyable in itself. You'll also minimize the frustrations that would plague you if you thought that "getting organized" was as simple as buying a new filing cabinet or that "getting in shape" meant no more than doing a few workouts. 

You're going to be around for many years to come, right? So start today on building the behaviors that will make those years more rewarding. 

Now over to you: What are you doing to start being organized? To start being fit? And what will you do to perpuate your progress?