Category Archives: habits

Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds.

Feeling uprooted? Plant new seeds.

Are you feeling uprooted? Like this pandemic has turned everything in your life upside down? Me too. I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been home. And although our city and state have lessened restrictions, we’re still staying home as much as we can.

I can sense that people are aching to get back to normal. But I don’t think things are ever going back to the way they were before this pandemic hit. And I’m ok with that. Why? Because now is the time to rethink everything. It’s a blank slate. A time to start fresh.

A time to plant new seeds.

Where do we start?

We have some work to do first. We need to grieve the life that once was. So many people have lost loved ones, jobs, livelihoods, innocence, a sense of security. Maybe you’ll come out of this mostly unscathed, but I bet it’s touched you somewhere in your life. Spend some time grieving.

I’m grieving my youngest having her preschool graduation without her friends. Surrounded by her teachers, her sister, and her parents, it was only her, wearing her cap and gown. During a timed ceremony so we wouldn’t interact with too many others. I can only imagine how parents and kids who didn’t get their high school or college graduation ceremony feel. These rituals bring such closure.

I’m grieving the last few months of spending every Tuesday with my daughter before she heads off to kindergarten. I’ve spent every Tuesday of the last 7 years with one or both of my girls. Although I was tired of figuring out how to entertain a small child every week, Mommy and Ellie days were special.

What do you need to grieve? Spend some time sitting with it and working through it. Mourn the memories that never were.

Once we’ve grieved, we can begin planting new seeds.

Next comes the part I’m most excited about. There is such an opportunity here. It’s time for a shift in thinking. Instead of longing to go back to the way things were, let’s reinvent. Let’s look at our schedules and priorities and figure out what really matters. How do we want to be spending our time?

I want to see our society have some big, deep discussions about so many things. Work, education, the division of housework and parenting. Generally, the way our society functions.

I’m not looking to have a big political discussion here. But we need to start with learning how to have deeper discussions. Instead of constantly complaining about how things aren’t working or dismissing someone who thinks differently, we need to listen and work to understand each other. Maybe once people start feeling heard, we can come together to fix things. People won’t dig in their heels and refuse to hear someone else because they won’t feel attacked. One place I’ve started is by reading Crucial Conversations and taking this quick mini-course.

Let’s start with work.

I do understand that not every job is flexible. You have to show up for a shift at the grocery store, hospital, just about every job in the service industry. Maybe there are ways to put more flexibility into these jobs. I’m talking about knowledge workers here. There are plenty of jobs focused solely on how much time you spend at your desk in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you do while you’re there. But you better be in your seat.

My husband was let go from a job many years ago because he wasn’t in the office by 8:30am every day. He was working close to 70 hours a week, but some of that was at home. He had young kids and wanted to be around to see them. This company couldn’t see that the amount of work or the quality of work is what mattered. It didn’t take the time to notice anything but when he was at his desk.

The shift in thinking here comes from defining success for these positions. Then, setting expectations and a deadline, and letting employees make it happen. I bet there will be a lot more creativity that comes from that freedom. Plant some new seeds.

Also, take a look at how many meetings are necessary and how people are communicating. I’m guessing some things can change there too. Does every meeting end with defined next steps? Or are they just a waste of time? Watch this quick 1-minute video about one thing you can do for more productive meetings.

The workload for women.

And what about the workload, both at work and at home, for women? Why is it that women are asked how they balance working and parenting but we never ask the dads? Why is it women are expected to do it all but we don’t expect it from the dads? Don’t tell me it’s because women are better at multitasking (I’ll get into that some other time). Think about what we’re teaching our kids – that it’s ok for the men not to help and the women need to do it all because no one else is capable.

There needs to be a shift in thinking here. A shift that we’re all in this together. That we all succeed or fail together. We need to stop with this thinking that we need to do it all by ourselves. Plant some new seeds.

Let’s rethink how we spend our time.

Have you created new routines during this pandemic? Maybe you’re walking the dog every morning or taking family walks before dinner. My husband and I are taking one night a week to play cards after the kids are in bed. I’ve wanted to cancel my gym membership and have more flexibility in when I work out but never made it happen. I’m exercising more now that I’ve made space for it in my living room.

Are you finding yourself enjoying more leisurely family dinners? Taking the time to watch your kids play in the backyard? Is it nice to not be rushing from one activity to another? Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed by work and remote learning and having the kids home that you’re exhausted.

I hope there’s been more quality family time. I hope that as activities begin to resume that you don’t go rushing out signing up for everything. I hope you find some peace in not rushing from one place to the next. In having family dinners (or breakfasts!) on a regular basis. Before you start filling up your schedule, figure out how you truly want to be spending your time. Commit your time carefully. Plant these new seeds meaningfully.

What about our stuff?

You’ve likely spent the last few months surrounded by your stuff. Is it driving you crazy? Are you finding it useful? Have you spent time sorting through and organizing it? We’ve rearranged toys to make them easier for our kids to use. We have a table just for arts and crafts now. We have a charging station for tablets and computers. We have learned more about how we use our space. That we really don’t need a big house and that when every toy is on the floor, it feels like a lot.

When we have less stuff, it’s easier to maintain an organized home. And it’s easier to use things because it’s not so overwhelming and we can find what we’re looking for. If our house is too cluttered, we can’t find what we need.

So take a look around your space, figure out what you love and need, and let the rest go. How do you want to feel when you are in your space? Comfortable? Content? Happy? Work towards getting your space to create that. Plant some new seeds with your space.

And related to our stuff, what about our spending?

Since you’ve been home, have you saved money because you’re not wandering through stores buying things you don’t need? Or are you just overbuying on Amazon? I’ve loved not spending money buying things we don’t need. It’s been nice to think about repurposing something we have in our house to fulfill a need. Or knowing that we don’t need more stuff in our lives. Plant some new seeds around spending. It relates to clutter as well. Retail therapy leads to short term relief. The stuff you buy takes up space in your house. It needs to be maintained or it just creates clutter. Take some time to figure out what’s behind that and find new ways to fill your cup. Plant some new seeds.

Time to plant some new seeds.

We need a shift in thinking. Let’s do things differently. Let’s move forward into something better. Let’s plant some new seeds.

If you’re ready to plant some new seeds in your life, let’s talk! And, if you’re an overwhelmed working mom, ready to take back control of your time, join Chaos Contained, an online community providing support in productivity.

Change Anything: Structural Motivation and Structural Ability

How to Change Anything

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.

change anything

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.

Structural Motivation

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.
Structural Ability

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! If you’d like to talk more about how to apply these in your life, schedule a call with me. Or send me a message.

Change Anything: Personal Ability

I hope you enjoyed my last blog on 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 looking at Personal Ability.  

When wanting to make a change in your life, there’s often more than 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.

change anything

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! And if you want some support in identifying your personal ability, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

Change Anything: Personal Motivation

change anythingI 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 saying you’ll deal with it all later? Then you find yourself 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 to 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.

Create a personal motivation statement. Create something to remind yourself why you’re doing this. You can glance at this 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. And if you want some support in identifying your personal motivation, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

Using Bins for Organizing Your Stuff

Today I want to talk about using bins or baskets for organizing stuff. I’ve recently switched my kids’ bookshelf to 2 white bins. My youngest likes to pull books off the shelf and this way she can pull one book at a time and the whole pile doesn’t come crashing off the shelf.

Bins should never have lids unless they’re storing something in a dusty room or aren’t in regular use. Keep the lids off hampers so you, your spouse, and your kids can easily toss clothes in them. Open bins for kids’ toys are also a good idea. I use bins of various sizes for my kids toys. My daughter’s legos are all in 1 open bin. It’s easy to get them out, easy to put them away. Her baby doll stuff is all in 1 bin. She likes to dump the whole bin on the floor, but we make a game out of putting them away. We simply see who can toss the clothes in the quickest.

I have a collection of weights and bands I use for physical therapy for my shoulder. I recently put the items in a bin so they’re not cluttering up my desk. I can easily pull them out when I need them and put them back when I’m done. We use bins in our pantry to keep onions separate from our potatoes. In our bathroom, each person’s toothbrush/floss/etc, are in separate bins in a drawer. It keeps them organized within the drawer and makes it easy for everyone to find their own stuff.

Bins are an easy way to keep stuff organized and collected. How can you use bins in your life? If you need help getting organized, call me today!

organize with bins

organize with bins