Even when the holidays are over and all the leftovers have been eaten, the task of putting away all the holiday decorations may still loom over your head. Perhaps your annual tradition is to throw your lights, ornaments and garlands into boxes or plastic bins with little or no organization. However, this can lead to a few other annual traditions that take place in late November -- nights spent untangling holiday lights and gluing broken ornaments back together.

But there are ways to avoid these tedious rituals. This year, you can resolve to get your holiday decorations organized. Putting in a little extra time and effort now can mean less wasted time several months from now, when you are ready to get all of your decorations out again. Think of how pleasant it could be to pull your untangled, unbroken decorations out of their boxes and place them around your home, with a cup of tea in one hand and music playing in the background. Getting organized now can potentially increase your enjoyment of many holiday seasons to come.

However, keep in mind that there is a difference between "getting organized" and "being organized." The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) emphasizes that organization is an ongoing effort and involves changing old habits into new ones [source: NAPO]. However, "getting organized" is the first step in this process, and that is what you will learn more about as you read this article. First up: taking an inventory.