Tag Archives: procrastination

Overcoming Resistance-Getting Yourself To YES


We may want to get reclaim our dining room table or our linen closet from the throes of entropy.  But that isn’t usually enough to get ourselves to make it happen.

Resistance to our goals shows up in different ways for different people… boredom, sleepiness, getting distracted, anxiety, procrastination, avoidance.  So how do you get around your own resistance to meet your organizing goals?

I’m overwhelmed!

Being overwhelmed can stop us in our tracks.  We freeze because the project feels too big and scary.  There are some techniques to managing that overwhelm. Rather than tackling the whole project, take one small step. How about:

  • Working on just a corner of a dining room table or
  • Cherry-picking only the catalogs and magazines or
  • Moving the shredding bag and recycling bin next to the table
  • Removing only the mail that looks critical and leaving the rest for now or
  • Doing a rough sort and gathering only large categories of things: for example, paper, items made of cloth, dishes, other people’s things

I don’t have time for this! I’m too busy! There’s other important things to do!

It may be very true that you are busy and other things seem more important. But this project you are looking at must be costing you something or it wouldn’t be bothering you…mental distress, distraction.

  • What value will you gain by finishing this project?
  • How is this project you’re putting off affecting your daily life?
  • What is it costing you in time, money or distraction? …late fees, family arguments, inefficiency?
  • Get clear on why you’re doing it
  • Schedule a session and see how far you get.
  • If you’re waiting for this magical block of time to appear, unless you make an appointment with yourself, you’ll always feel too busy
  • Ask a friend to keep you company while you work on it or commit to someone else to make progress

I might need it! I paid a lot of money for it! Someone gave it to me!

We all have these objections.  Not valuing your current life as much as you value money you already spent and can’t fully recoup…or letting someone else’s generosity keep you from having your home the way you want it is debilitating.

  • Save that resistance for things that are truly hard to come by, not for things that are easy to borrow or replace, like novels and cheesecake pans.
  • Ask yourself “Is it really that precious to take up valuable space in my home and my life?
  • Is the value of having it on hand worth the everyday cost of keeping it, taking up space, requiring cleaning or care?
  • Don’t let the “maybe/somedays” stand in the way of living comfortably right now. How about that specialty appliance that you have been meaning to use…Is that bread maker/ice cream machine/panini press taking up valuable space on your counter or in your cabinets?
  • To keep from getting stuck, try dividing the items in question into three categories: “YES” – “NO” – “MAYBE” to maintain forward momentum while sorting

Sometimes our resistance isn’t literal or immediately obvious. Maybe you’re avoiding that pile of papers because you have a huge bill due…or clearing out a space means facing memories of someone who used to be in your life.

Hold that vision of the how great it will feel to have made progress on your organizing goal.  The cumulative effect of slight behavior changes can improve the course of your life.  Be kind to yourself, some resistance is pretty intense. If you truly get stuck, move onto something else or reach out for a helping hand.


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Filed under Decluttering, disorganization, Perspective, Strategies

Trick Your Brain To Get Things Done

That stack of mail has been haunting you from the kitchen counter for the past week and you know you “should” go through it but somehow another day passes and it still sits there – now a day taller with the addition of today’s mail.

Do you often find yourself doing everything except the things you’re “supposed” to do? What’s happening? You actually do have the desire and the vision to not have mail piled on the counter, a part of you really wants to dig in and go through it, but something pops up and blocks you from the task.

Studies show that your “lizard brain” is likely kicking in. It is designed to keep you safe when you experience fear. Any uncertainty in our brains turns into fear and activates the lizard brain.

the lizard brain

So why can a seemly innocent pile of mail trigger this? Unopened mail represents possible decisions to make, money to spend and tasks to do. Yikes!

The key to getting started is to trick your lizard brain. You have to take such small steps that you almost don’t realize you’re actually doing part of the project. There are several ways to take steps that are so small they seem almost pointless but actually are moving you forward:

  • Set a time limit – could you tolerate working on the pile for 1 minute? Less? More? find a time amount that feels easy
  • Set an amount limit – could you tolerate looking at 1 piece of mail? Maybe 5? Again, pick an amount that feels so easy it seems ridiculous
  • Cherry pick – is there part of the pile you don’t dread at all? Catalogs, junk mail, etc? Spend a little time only focusing on the easy parts of the pile
  • Do something related but not directly part of the dreaded task – move the recycling bin near the pile, or move the pile near the recycling bin

You don’t have to be motivated. Research shows that motivation is somewhat needless. If you just start, the motivation will come behind it. The key is to keep staying below your fear response.

How low can you go?  The step you take may be TINY!

What’s the smallest baby step you can imagine for different tasks? Give us some examples!


Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, organizing, Paper, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management

Not Enough Time in the Day?

watch face

Every so often we will invite a guest writer to post. This week’s is written by Sydney Metrick, Ph.D. of Artful Coaching.

How can you fit all your tasks and commitments into a mere 24 hours, especially if you’d like to sleep for around eight of them? Just like sorting is the first step in de-cluttering, the same principle is used for time management.

The first step is to define the big categories of your life. Examples would be self-care, which might include sleep, exercise, eating, hygiene…get the picture? Then consider what would fall into the category of home. Perhaps yard work, laundry, cooking, cleaning, or even shopping. Of course you want to consider relationships with friends, family, and significant other. Next work and whatever that includes, depending on if you’re self-employed or have a job. Creative expression or hobbies might be another category.

Consider if any of the categories have “to-do’s” that must be done daily, or weekly, or whenever. Now look at your calendar and begin to design your life. When is the best time of the day and of the week for you to do each thing? Which things are recurring? How long do they actually take? Does it take more than five minutes to make the bed? More than 30 seconds to hang up your jacket? The 30 second rule is “anything that takes 30 seconds or less, why not do it now?”

Designing your day is like organizing your home or office. You decide what you use (or do) frequently, and where it will live (on your calendar and thus, in your day). Two more tips: Color coding the categories helps, and thinking of your calendar as a commitment book lets you say no to last minute enticements.

Artful Coaching works with people who have ADHD and other non-linear thinkers providing unwavering support and enthusiastic encouragement, along with practical tools and resources.  Together we target their most challenging areas, developing strategies and habits which create ongoing accomplishments.

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Filed under General Organizing, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management

EXCUSE: I might need it some day!

Holding on to things that we can't use today keeps us from being present.

We can find a reason to keep anything.

Lately we’ve been reviewing a wonderful organizing resource book, It’s All Too Much, by Peter Walsh.

We really appreciate Peter’s style of getting right to the heart of the emotional holdbacks our organizing clients face. One section of the book covers all the excuses we’ve heard for justifying keeping things that are no longer being used. Here is a great one and Peter’s response:

 “I might need it one day.”

Excuse Buster: “If I can’t use it today, right now, for who I am in the life I am living, I don’t need it. (‘Just in case’ keeps me from living in the present!)”

 It’s okay to hold on to one or two items of reasonable size that have a genuine chance of a future life.  But let’s be honest.  Is it really only one or two items?

 Or are you saving enough stuff to furnish a whole alternate universe in which a skinnier you used that dusty abdominal crunch machine every morning before inserting all your photos into a new album and then dons that old wig you’ve been storing for a costume party you’re hosting at which everyone will be lounging in the extra chairs that have been languishing in your basement for the last six years?

 Clutter stops us from living in the present.  The future is important. But you have to consider the quality of your life today and strike a balance between the life you are living today and the multitude of possible paths your life may take in the future.

We agree!

Excuses provide us with a kind of solace while we cope with a changing world. The first step to changing habits is to notice.  We hope this helps you feel more open to releasing unneeded items from your home.

Is this an excuse you use to hold on to way more than you really need? What helps you change your mind about it?

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Filed under General Organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies