Breaking Bad

The Breaking Down of Unsuccessful Habits will lead to a
Healthier Organized Space

Clients often ask, “Why does my space always wind up like this, no matter what I do?”

The answer is: First we need to break the unsuccessful habits that lead to this result, otherwise no matter what you do… disorganization will always resurface!

If we recognize that disorganization is the underlying symptom that has created clutter, frustration and stress, then we need to find out why we continue to think and act like this. Only then will the process of complete organization have a chance to prevail.

One common example of an unsuccessful habit is “list making”... sounds confusing right? Well lists are great, if they are short, purposeful, and lead to another action step.  However the truth is a list often leads to disorganization and much more confusion if not executed properly. So many of my clients have been literally addicted to list making. They think this is the answer so they make tons of lists, lists about lists and the only thing that is being created is chaos.

For example, let’s say you’re a list maker. A great way to get to the bottom of this habit is to retrace the steps you normally take to make a list. Ask yourself, where did you first create that list? Did you do it on the fly, had a bunch of ideas on the train into work, when you got home from the gym, or did you make it at a networking meeting?

Where it comes from is more important than you think, because we cannot combat this bad habit if we don’t know where it starts. Most of the time habits are an unconscious thoughts or actions so ingrained that once we gain some awareness we now have the ability to change.

Let’s use a networking meeting as an example and let’s say the individual we will talk about is named Frank (to protect the innocent).

During the meeting Frank started hearing things that made him create a list. He’s wasn’t even sure what the list was really about. Frank was definitely confused… I had to question him, is this list all about work, what other thoughts and ideas have invaded this list? I noticed it was all jumbled up with categories? There was some follow-up needed as well. This type of list calls for different action steps, but having it all on one list just makes it more overwhelming for Frank to deal with.

His old habit was to collect these sheets and hopefully go back to them, unfortunately, when I got to him that was not the case. In fact, all that had occurred was a “list’ pile had developed. A pile filled with great creative ideas never followed through on because once they got back to the office they became just words on pieces of paper waiting for some type of action.

This is an example of why writing one list can be so perplexing. To help Frank, a system was put into place to change Frank’s approach to list making. First identify general categories. Second, create separate notes for each category. Then when Frank would return to his office, he agreed to designate five minutes to file each note in its category or put it where it needs to go. In addition, Frank has other systems to follow once everything is filed.

These new processes developed are the antidotes for breaking the “confusing” list making habit!

Most people have trouble breaking their unsuccessful habits because they usually fall into them without a thought. New ones that replace the old ones typically require more thinking and a few more steps. In order to truly change our behavior a conscious commitment is needed. If you’re serious about making changes, being willing to do the work is crucial.

Forming successful, new behaviors takes time and effort so please be patient and kind with yourself. It may seem like such a tremendous act to change, but if you follow the idea of retracing your steps, and breaking down the action with questions, goals, and direction, it won’t seem so overwhelming. These habits didn’t happen overnight so they are not going to change overnight. We all get off track every now and then; that’s what makes us human.

Breaking unsuccessful, unfulfilling, un-useful habits & behaviors takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance. Don’t give up, stay focused, one step at a time and change is possible, I can guarantee that.

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