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Posts tagged ‘completing tasks’

Organizing … Part of Self-Care?

What do you think of organizing?  More importantly, what do you think of yourself when it comes to organizing?  This is an area that many of us either glorify or curse.  We look at the homes of our organized friends and think, “Ah, what would it be like to live like that?  My life would be wonderful if I could live in a home like that!”  Or, we just berate ourselves because our homes do not look like that, and we see our own organizing ability as some kind of shortcoming or weakness.

What about getting rid of that dream of organizing perfection and all of the negative judgments that go along with it?  I’m not saying to get rid of organizing, but to get rid of the dream of perfection we’ve had about how it works and what it “should” look like.  For many of us, because we feel so embarrassed and/or guilty about this area, we do our best to hide it from others, which only increases our isolation and makes it more difficult to ask for and receive support!

Consider this idea.

Organizing is one form of self-care.

Organizing can be one form of self-care, instead of one form of self-criticism!  However, that does require rethinking the whole area.

Instead of “perfection,” think “good enough” and “What works for me?

I am asking that you find a way to wiggle yourself out of the seductive hold that the glossy pictures of perfectly organized homes have on you.  Keep in mind that nobody actually lives in those homes, at least not in the way that they are portrayed!  Interior design experts have been in that home, not to mention professional photographers, all whose job it is to portray perfection and sell something, correct?  Just what are they selling?  And do you really want any of it?  Do you really want to live in a home that exists to look beautiful but not necessarily be very functional?

If you can suspend your view of what you thought organizing was, then you have a chance to consider something more realistic and more useful!  A way that is more fitting for you.  A way that works for you.  A way that it is good enough and is more in line with how you really live.  In that view, you have a chance to look at organizing as part of self-care, instead of as a way to criticize yourself.

“How Do I Do That?”

Here is what I have learned so far.

* Little by little.  ONE STEP AT A TIME.

Not three steps at a time.   Not do it all at once.  Give yourself a chance to be successful!

* Separate out the projects from the tasks.

Tasks are something that you can do in 10 or 20 minutes.  If it’s much longer or full of steps, it qualifies for a project.  By identifying it as a project, you give yourself a chance to make progress on it by identifying the smaller steps that are involved in it.

* Before beginning a project, break it down into tasks. 

What all is involved in getting that project done?  If it feels overwhelming, what is one small action that you can take that would move that project further along?  Most projects have more leeway than we think because there are different ways that we can move forward on the project.  Stop trying to figure out the “perfect” way.

* The bigger the area you do at one time, the more likely you are to fail.

Don’t mean to be harsh or negative here.  Actually, quite the opposite.  Straightforward compassion, learned from lots and lots and lots of experience…  Stated more simply (and related to “Little by Little”), here’s the positive spin on this:

* The smaller and more manageable the area is to organize, the more likely you are to succeed in organizing it!

My thinking used to go something like this.  “I ‘just’ want to get my desk organized today.”  However, my desk was covered with piles of paper and folders and notebooks and reminders and — you get the picture.  “Just” getting my desk organized made success risky.  What has increased my success is identifying one part of my desk or one pile on my desk and deciding to take action with that one part or that one pile.  It may seem really small, but I am so much more likely to succeed, which builds my momentum and confidence for then taking action on the next part or pile!

Coaching Can Make A Difference!

I’m making progress in learning how to approach organizing differently in my own life.  The funny thing is that I’ve been helping my clients organize parts of their lives for a long time now!  The idea that, “You can’t see the forest for the trees” certainly applies here.  All those trees can block our vision of the forest when we’re standing right in the middle of them!  That’s why I have my own coach in this area, and that’s also why I’m able to be such an awesome coach for someone else in this area! 

If you’re looking for someone to help you change your approach or be more effective with organizing, I’d love to help.  Or, perhaps you want to learn how to take a kinder, gentler approach with yourself, which might surprisingly be the key you’ve been missing.  You can contact me in several ways:

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!


Getting Things Done?

When it comes to getting things done, how do you proceed?  Do you take the “eat-the-biggest-frog-first” approach and do the biggest or most difficult thing first?  For some people, that approach can work very well.  The idea is that by tackling the “biggest frog” first, you not only get that project done, but you also free up the energy that you might have spent thinking or worrying about getting it done.  If this idea appeals to you or works for you, go for it.  Use it to get those items on your to-do list checked off!

Moving With The Flow

However, if that has not worked so well for you (or has not worked at all), there is another, completely opposite approach which can be equally effective for getting things done.  It’s the idea of “the path of least resistance.”  As the name implies, you move with the flow, not against it.  I have known about and appreciated this idea for some time now because it fits for me philosophically.  However, I attribute a better understanding and more practical use of it to Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office.  I participated in a class she offers called “The Wish Kit” in which she guided us to create not only a vision for, but also the initial steps to creating an office or studio or workspace that works for us and even nurtures and inspires us.  (Please check out the link if this sounds intriguing at all.  It’s very reasonably priced!)

Path Of Least Resistance

In “the path of least resistance” approach, the idea is to generate energy and build momentum for what you want to accomplish.  Instead of going for the “big frog,” you begin with the task or project that has the most appeal, that sounds like the most fun and/or is the easiest.

“What?”  You may say, “That won’t work!  I’ll just do easy stuff and won’t get the hard stuff done.”  Perhaps.  However, the brilliance behind this approach is that it tends to clear the way so that you can get stuff done!  Doing the easy or even the fun task has a way of lightening our mood and increasing our energy, thus creating a better environment to do those very tasks that we may be putting off or even dreading.  This approach is like oiling a rusty or squeaky part in our home.  The part becomes smoother and easier to move.  And we often feel an “Ahhhhh” sense of relief.  Using the path of least resistance allows our own process to move more smoothly and easily.

Let It Be Easy!

Next time, instead of gritting your teeth and pushing through something, why not give this approach a try?  Purposefully decide to experiment with this way of getting things done.  Pick something that you’d like to do, something that you want to do, something that is easy to do, then notice if you feel less stuck or if you have more energy or your thinking becomes clearer.  Any and all of those results are possible.  It is a tried-and-true approach!

Kiss Your Monster On The Nose

Then you are in a more effective position to “kiss your monster on the nose.”  (Doesn’t that sound preferable to eating a big frog????)  If you think about “kissing your monster on the nose,” it has a sense of peace and resolution to it, not a sense of having to “gear yourself up for battle.”  Kissing your monster on the nose may just be a matter of breaking down the project in front of you into the tasks or steps that will allow you to accomplish it.  It may be that you just haven’t stopped to take the time to think through what may be involved or that you need to do some research to get more information for what’s in front of you.  You want to make sure that you have the necessary information and resources you need to accomplish your task or project!

If you think about being your own best friend, you want to encourage yourself with positive motivation as much as you can instead of forcing yourself or giving yourself grief when what you’re doing isn’t working!  And, aside from being a “kinder, gentler way,” the path of least resistance is very effective!  You do get done what you’re wanting to get done, but you go about it in perhaps a very different way.

If you’ve been looking for an approach to increase your productivity without being mean to yourself, give this one a try.  You may very well be surprised at how incredibly effective it is!

Motivation for Change: Part 1

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao-tzu

Making a change can seem like a huge undertaking, if not completely overwhelming.  To counteract that feeling, it can help to remember that change is a process that occurs little step by little step by little step.  The cumulative effect of those little steps creates the change that you want!

Once you have identified the change that you want to make (whether it is exercising or being on time or cleaning out a cluttered closet), the next thing to do is to break it down into parts.  Often we do not move forward because our goal is in too big of a chunk.  It’s actually several actions instead of one.  Each action may be simple enough in itself, but our brain is attempting, in some way, to do them simultaneously.  It’s doing its best, but it will not succeed unless you first back up and break down your goal into simple, concrete, manageable actions.  Then, you and your brain can go for it.  That’s where the SMART goal format can come into play.

A SMART goal is an acronym for a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-based.

Specific – Take, for example, “exercise.”  That is not specific.  It is vague.  What kind of exercise?  Swimming?  Walking?  Racquetball?  Where will you exercise?  Outside?  A particular gym?  Do you already belong to that gym?  Will you be exercising by yourself, or do you want to work-out with someone?  Who is that “someone”?  Do they have an interest and time available when you do?  These are questions that seems obvious but can kill the success of a goal if they are not clearly answered!

Measurable – How often?  Once each week?  Three times each week?  And how long for each time?  One game?  Thirty minutes?  If you’re looking at a goal like exercise that is best done with a gradual progression from starting out small to building on your successes, it helps to have short-term, intermediate and long-term goals.  Perhaps you’ll start out by just walking for 20 minutes three times the first week, then building to 25 minutes each time the second week, then 30 minutes the third week, and so on, until you have built up to the amount and frequency that you are wanting.  You can increase your likelihood of success by identifying which days you will exercise on:  Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?  Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays?  Your long-term goal may be to run a 5K by a certain date.

Attainable (or Achievable) – Is the goal something that is possible for you to achieve?  Do you really believe that it is possible?  If you decide to exercise every single day but have three days each week that are already so jam-packed full of commitments that you really don’t have the time or energy to exercise on those days, then daily exercise is not an attainable goal for you!  However, by modifying your goal to perhaps three times each week, it becomes attainable.  Seems like a very simple and obvious point, but you’d be amazed how many of us tend to overlook the importance of really looking squarely at this guideline.

Realistic (or Relevant) – “Is your goal realistic?” is very similar to “Is your goal attainable or achievable?”  “Is your goal relevant?” addresses whether or not your goal fits with your vision and values and what is important to you.  How does your goal matter in the overall picture of what you want for yourself?

Time-based – If you leave this one out, your brain doesn’t have a way to wrap itself around your goal and go to work for you.  Having a definite date for getting started on your goal and a definite date for completing your goal increases the structure for your goal and, therefore, helps support you in accomplishing that goal.  Dates also help by providing you with some motivation to get going (because, for example, you want to be ready for the 5K!)

Little step by little step by little step.  But before you take any steps, put the change you want to make into a SMART goal format to increase your likelihood for success.  You want to use the resources you already have to give yourself the support you need!

Effective Wisdom

When I walked into my 13-year-old daughter’s room, the entire floor was covered — with clothes, shoes (including many, many pairs of flip-flops in assorted colors), baskets, dress-up clothes, folders, binders, pom-poms, and who knows what all else.  The sight completely freaked out my husband, who made some comment about a tornado having hit.  I, however, knew enough to know that she had finally decided to tackle her cluttered closet, which had been so jam-packed full of anything that needed a temporary place to be, that the doors would no longer close.

She was in one of those delightful moods when she wanted to share what was going on in her life.  Nothing particularly noteworthy, but appreciated by me nevertheless because, in the volatile world of a teenager, she could be completely mum all next week (of course in her appropriate desire to declare her own individuality as she makes her way down the path towards adulthood).  I took full advantage of the moment and sat down (in a small space that was not yet covered) and enjoyed listening to her relate her recent experiences with her friends at a restaurant after a gymnastics meet.

I tried not to overstay my welcome.  I realized that she was politely asking me to leave when she said that she wanted to continue to work on her room.  I went about my day and engaged in what was mine to do.

I heard the vacuum cleaner running and later walked by her room.  Wow.  What a transformation!  Every single item was not only off the floor but had been sorted — either thrown away or put in a pile to be given away, with the remaining items neatly reorganized in a closet that now had, by comparison, almost nothing in it.  Absolutely amazing.

I decided to ask her if she was aware of how she had motivated herself to tackle this project and bring it to completion, without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of it.  Here’s what she said.

1) I start by just doing one little thing.

2) I don’t let myself get distracted by other things.

3) That one thing then turns into the next thing to do.

4) I take breaks, but I make sure that I go back to finishing whatever little thing I’m working on.

That’s it.  The wisdom of a 13-year-old.  I’m so grateful when I can be humble enough to be curious and to learn from whatever experience is right in front of me.  Otherwise I would have missed the wisdom and inspiration of this experience!

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