It’s time to clean off your computer!

The 2nlaptopcoffeeflowerd Monday of February is clean out your computer day. When was the last time you went through and cleaned files, apps, and photos off your computer?

I’ve been working on cleaning
off our computer for the last year. We have thousands of pictures, old files from planning our wedding, old school papers, so many unncessary items. And our computer is old, we’ll likely need to replace it in the next 1-2 years. For me, simply moving files from one computer to the next is like moving boxes from one house to another without seeing what’s inside!

Here are 4 tips for cleaning off your computer.

  1. Take 15 minutes a day and start reviewing files, deleting those items you don’t need, and making sure everything else is properly labeled and filed for easy access.
  2.  Review any apps or programs that you never use and delete them. They’re just taking up space!
  3. Make a plan for keeping your files organized in the future. Create folders as you need them. I have a file called ‘Photos to Sort,’ where I put photos I don’t have time to deal with just yet. Once a month, I take a few minutes to go through these photos, delete the blurry ones and file the ones I want to keep.
  4. Ensure everything is labeled and that the label makes sense. You want to be able to find something when you need it.

Build some time in your schedule to start cleaning off your computer. Even if it’s just 1 hour a week, you’ll keep it organized and uncluttered.

Change Anything: Structural Motivation and Structural Ability

This week we are wrapping up my series looking at the six sources of influence found in one of my favorite books, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

The last two sources to cover are structural motivation and structural ability. Structural motivation looks at bribing ourselves to change. Instead of believing you can simply make the change on your own, try something to entice you toward change. Structural ability looks at making changes in your structure or space to make your goals easier to reach.

Let’s start with structural motivation, which the authors describe as ‘inverting the economy’. Change your incentives to help you toward your goals. Here are a few tactics to use.

Use carrots and the threat of losing carrots.

  • Find an incentive for making the changes.
    • Take 30 minutes to read your favorite book when you turn down a commitment.
  • Give money to a charity you hate if you don’t meet set goals.
    • Maybe you give to a charity you don’t like if you say yes to a commitment you really wish you had turned down.

Use incentives in moderation and in combination.

  • Use small rewards, not big ones.
    • Taking yourself out for coffee each week you successfully deal with incoming mail and paperwork.

Use rewards in combination with social and personal motivators.

  • If you’re trying to keep your kitchen table uncluttered, maybe a family dinner or hosting book club is your reward.

Reward small wins.

  • Break your goals into smaller steps and reward those steps as you meet them.
    • Spend 15 minutes a day dealing with paperwork, instead of a Saturday afternoon.

The final source of influence is structural ability. This source looks at controlling your space. It’s tactics include:

Build fences

  • If you are saving money, don’t go into stores where you know you will spend money, unless you stick to a predetermined list and budget.
  • Don’t sign up for any magazines or mail subscriptions.

Manage distance

  • Create a distance between yourself and temptation.
    • Delete Internet bookmarks to make online shopping more difficult.
    • Deal with your mail somewhere other than your kitchen table.

Change cues

  • Create cues in your environment to remind you of the changes you are making.
    • Use your phone or photos on your fridge or car dashboard to place notes or checklists.

Engage your autopilot

  • Find a way to put something on autopilot or into a default mode so you don’t have to think about it.
    • Schedule regular appointments to deal with paperwork or to spend time with family members.

Use tools

  • Regularly post your progress on Facebook.
  • Commit to nightly family dinner or breakfast.
  • Ensure your electronic devices are working for you in your change.

We have now covered all 6 sources of influence. Remember that you need to use all 6 sources, not just a couple, if you want to make real progress towards change.

I hope you have found something useful in these posts and are able to use this information as you tackle some changes in your life!

Change Anything: Social Motivation and Social Ability

The last few weeks we have been looking at the six sources of influence found in one of my favorite books, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. I hope you’re finding the information useful! This week we are looking at social motivation and social ability.

Whether you identify it or not, the people in your life influence you in many ways. Some influence you towards the positive (the friend who meets you for a morning run) and some towards the negative (the friend who tells you to buy that shirt or eat that dessert because you deserve it, despite the fact that you’re trying to save money or lose a little weight).

Here are some ways to identify these influences and how best to change them towards the positive.

  • Identify the accomplices and the friends in your life. Who is leading you astray from your goals? The friend who always wants to go out for nice lunches followed by an afternoon of shopping? The roommate or partner who is constantly signing up for catalogs (which just clog up your dinner table)?
    • Who is helping you in a positive way? Who are your coaches or fans as you work towards your goals? Do you need a financial counselor? A professional organizer? A life coach? A therapist? An accountability partner?
  • Redefine  Normal. Stop comparing yourself to others. How do you want to live and who do you want to be?
    • Stop trying to keep up with everything your neighbors are doing. Sign off of Facebook for a few weeks. Just because your Facebook friends are constantly posting pictures of the latest adventure they’ve had doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong if you’re not out there doing the same thing. You are not them!
      • I’ve made Sundays my Facebook free days. If I have to, I’ll sign out of it so I’m not tempted.
      • Whenever I find myself comparing my life to others, I look at whether it’s something I would do. I’m not someone who wants to be traveling every weekend, so I can reframe it to ‘that’s not who I am or who I aspire to be.’
  • Have a transformative conversation. Talk to those you’d like to have as friends or coaches and tell them what you are doing and what you need from them.
    • Talk to your roommate or partner about how you’d like to get your mail organized or keep the clutter from your dining table.
    • Talk to your friend about how you’d like to spend time with her but you’re also trying to save money. Are there other things you can do together, like join an exercise group or meet for coffee instead?
  • Add new friends.
    • Join a social network or organization that supports your goals. Do you need a financial counselor? A professional organizer? A life coach? A therapist? An accountability partner?
    • Distance yourself from those who are unwilling to support you in your new endeavors. If you’re trying to save money, stop spending time with the friend who only wants to go shopping.

This week, take a look at your social motivation and social ability influences. Who in your life is helping you reach your goals and who is slowing you down? What can you do about this? I’m going to look at the social networks I am a part of and ensure they are helping me reach my professional and personal goals for the year. Public speaking through workshops on organizing is a goal of mine. I have joined Toastmasters as a way of building my public speaking skills and the members of my group are the friends in building those skills.

Next week we’re going to wrap up this series by looking at the structural motivation and structural ability.

Change Anything: Personal Ability

I hope you enjoyed my last blog on the personal motivation, one of the 6 sources of influence discussed in Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This week, we’re going to look at Personal Ability.  

When wanting to make a change in your life, there’s often more than just willpower working against you. Sometimes, you may not have the skills to make the change. Maybe you never learned how to manage your money or how to deal with incoming mail and paperwork. Maybe you never had a problem with managing your time until you became an adult and had a house to manage, a full time job, a dog, and a new baby. Often, this lack of skill sits in what the authors call a blind spot. You simply didn’t know it was a problem!

Let’s look at some tactics on identifying your personal ability to tackle this change.

Start with a skill scan. Start looking at your ability to do what you need to before getting started on making changes.

  • You ignore your bills because you don’t understand how to track your finances. Unpaid bills coupled with your shopping habits, you may never end up paying down your debt.
    • Make an appointment with a financial advisor or take classes on managing your finances.
  • You say yes anytime someone asks for help (joining a committee, taking on extra work that requires extra hours) because you are worried about hurting someone’s feelings.
    • Take a class on assertiveness or create a rule that you always say ‘let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you.’
  • You don’t know how to set up a file system or what to do with all the incoming mail or if you can even stop it.
    • Call a professional organizer, take a class or find a book on managing paperwork.

Apply deliberate practice. 

  • Practice saying no, practice saying ‘I’ll get back to you.’ Practice scheduling time for yourself.
  • Break it down into small steps. Put your mail in the same place every day. Put a shredder right next to where you sort your mail. Put a recycle bin for your junk mail next to where you sort your mail.

Learn the will skill. Willpower can be learned and strengthened.

  • Can you avoid temptation when faced with your most tempting scenario? Can you avoid the situation altogether? What about distracting yourself, reviewing your personal motivation statement, or finding a trusted friend who can act as your coach.
    • Suggest a lunch and a movie instead of shopping with a friend.
    • Look at your calendar and think about your priorities before you say yes to something.

This week, take a few minutes to see what outside help you might seek and what you can practice. I’m practicing saying no to things I know I can’t fully devote myself to. And I’m breaking tasks down into small steps (emptying the dishwasher when I first get up so I can put dishes away throughout the day instead of spending a bunch of time at the end of the day).

Join me next time as we look at social motivation and social ability!

Change Anything: Personal Motivation

I hope you read my last blog about my favorite book,Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This week we’re going to look at Personal Motivation.

Let’s start with your crucial moments. Do you get sucked into the $1 bins at Target (I’ll admit, sometimes I have to drag myself away from them)? Or do you come home from work so tired that you drop everything at the door (or on the kitchen table) saying you’ll deal with it all later (only to be scrambling to get out the door the next morning)? Or maybe you say yes anytime someone asks you to help or join a committee, even if you know you don’t have the time!

With your crucial moments in mind, think about your default future. Where are you headed if you keep living this way? Imagine your worst case scenario if you don’t change. Overwhelming debt? Exhaustion, illness, or missing out on time with your family? Resentment? Not being able to find anything in your house when you really need it?

Ok, now that you have your default future in your mind, let’s look at changing the way you make choices or learning to love what you hate. Yes, you can do that. You need to see and believe in the future you want.

Here are some tips on learning to love what you hate.

Use value words. Why are you making this change? What good will come from this change?  

  • You want save more money or quickly find clothes to wear, clothes that are clean and ready to put on. You want to eat dinner at your table with friends and family or be able to host Thanksgiving.

Make it a game. How can you make this change fun? Break your goal into small tasks, compete with a friend. What can you do to provide yourself encouragement along the way?

  • Get rid of 2 pieces of clothes each day, spend 5 minutes every day sorting through the mail, put on some music, set a timer, set a deadline, sing a song, make it fun.

Create a personal motivation statement. Create something to remind yourself why you’re doing this that you can glance at during your crucial moments.

  • Find a picture of something you aspire to such as a family dinner, an organized closet, or a trip you want to take and need to save money for.

This week, choose one or two of the above tips and figure out how to incorporate them into your change plan.

Next time, we’ll look at Personal Ability.

Change Anything!

One of my favorite books is Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This book discusses how to make changes in your life and how willpower is not the answer. I like their philosophy because it has you look at 6 sources of influence in your life. It helps you identify these sources that are working against you and shows you how to turn them into positive influences. And, just like each organizing solution I provide is unique to that person or family, your path to change is unique.

Here is an overview of the 6 sources of influence. We will get into much more detail over the next few weeks.

Personal Motivation: Personal motivation is all about how you think about your future and why you’re making these changes. It’s all about the ‘why’. Maybe you want to be able to have people over for dinner and are tired of the dining table always being covered in paperwork. Or maybe you really want to save money for a vacation but keep buying stuff you don’t need.

Personal Ability: This is all about the skills you have to make changes. Do you know how to set up a place (and routine) for all of the paperwork coming into your house? Do you need to figure out how to set up a budget or understand what’s behind your desire to overspend?

Social Motivation and Social Ability: Social Motivation and Social Ability look at those around you and whether they are a friend or an accomplice. Do you have a friend you have lunch with every Saturday, who also likes to shop? Who is influencing you in a positive way? Can you make more friends who help and talk with those who don’t?

Structural Motivation and Structural Ability: This is about creating incentives and controlling your space to help you reach your change goals. What is going to motivate you along the way? Reward small wins and find inexpensive ways to motivate yourself. How can you change your environment to keep you on track?

Many of these sources of influence are invisible to you. Until you become aware of them, you will be unable to change them. This means you get to be both the scientist and the subject in your life. You learn what influences are at work in your life.

Here are some other things to think about as you begin to identify these sources of influence in your own life.

  • What are your crucial moments? Where is it that you fall short of your goals?
    • These moments may be physical, emotional, or involve certain people or places. Start becoming aware of these moments.
  • What are your vital behaviors? What actions do you want to take when you are in a crucial moment?
    • These actions or guidelines help influence your behavior.

When making a change, it’s important to use all 6 sources of influence, not just pick a few. Also, just because something doesn’t work or you have a bad day, don’t quit. Just use that information to your advantage and turn it into a learning experience.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll get into more detail of each source of influence. I’ll share a few examples and I want you to think about how these 6 sources of influence can help you reach your goals for the year.