The floodgates tend to open in December, with a variety of
celebrations involving gift exchanges and shopping. When I shop for
other people, no matter how hard I try, a little something for
myself always makes its way to the register. I have to admit that
my own closets and bookshelves have become a little bloated lately.
Lots of stuff is coming in, but not enough is flowing out.

The week after Christmas is an excellent time to purge, diet and
otherwise lean out before the official “Ready, Steady, Go!” of New
Year’s Day. I always like to get my ducks in a row the week before
New Year’s so that I feel refreshed for New Year’s Eve celebrations
and can hit the ground running on the first of January.

My ideal post-Christmas week looks like this:

Pull out the boxes and bins and spend a leisurely few hours
taking down the tree with a good movie or CD playing in the
background. When the holiday decorations are cleared, look around
the house with a fresh eye. Is there anything cluttering up the
space that you can live without? Now is also the time to ditch any
ornaments that didn’t work — the old tired wreath, extra unsent
cards, etc.

Make a list of what you need to look for or replace next holiday
season. Hit the holiday sales for gift wrap, cards, ribbon, tree
accessories, and other holiday items at 50 percent off or more. Buy
only what you can reasonably store.

Exercise daily and eat right to make up for holiday indulgences
and to get party-ready for New Year’s Eve.

Spend as much time as possible creating a vision for 2012,
including a business plan for the year, if applicable, and some
resolutions for areas you’d like to change or improve in the next
12 months. The more writing, visioning and planning you do now, the
more likely your goals and dreams are to become reality. The first
step in organization is imagining what you want your life to look
like. Then plan realistic action steps to make it happen.

Take care of any nagging house, family, auto, pet or garden
chores that you don’t want to carry over to 2012.

If you had any holiday cards returned for lack of a correct
address, make adjustments to your address book or contacts

Catch up on movies, books and your television queue. Discontinue
any subscriptions (magazines, Netflix, Hulu) that you didn’t have
time to utilize in 2011 and don’t want to continue in 2012. Recycle
the backlog of 2011 and older magazines that you didn’t get to —
don’t start the new year with the guilt of an overwhelming “to
read” pile.

Catch up with friends for informal lunches and dinners before
the work madness begins again.

Check your new purchases and gifts against your older
possessions. Try to abide by the “one in, one out” rule. Give your
closet a check-up and consign or donate whatever didn’t work for
you in 2011. Carry only the best quality over to the new year.

Get some sleep. The holiday madness is behind us, the challenges
of a new year not yet begun. Breathe deeply, take naps if possible,
and use this precious “betwixt and between” week to revive your
spirits and prepare yourself for a very happy, healthy, prosperous
and orderly new year.