Today we again welcome the phenomenal Monica Ricci as a guest author on Unclutterer. She’s the organizing adviser for Office Depot and Beazer Homes, and you may have seen her on HGTV’s Mission Organization. A professional organizer hailing from Atlanta, I’m happy to call her a friend and to have her share her uncluttering wisdom with our readers.
Some time in the late 80s, my first husband taught me to golf, and I discovered something countless people already knew: Golf is hard! In fact, it’s the most difficult sport I’ve ever learned, with the possible exception of hang gliding, but that’s a whole other (horrible scraped-and-bloody-legs) story that maybe I’ll tell sometime after I’ve had too much to drink. But I digress…
What Joe taught me about golf is that to be a successful golfer, you have to learn a bunch of new skills and combine them properly to get the results you want. Your stance, your grip, your head position, your back swing, your swing, and follow-through all have to be just right to get the ball to go where you want it to. If one of those skills isn’t right, the ball will hook, slice, or burn some worms. In short, you get a less than desirable result. To be a good golfer, it’s important to learn proper fundamentals and combine them well, so that when you practice, you’re practicing good habits rather than deeply ingraining BAD habits.
The same is true in life and organizing. Your success is deeply dependent on the habits you create over time. The way you manage your time is a habit, and all the daily routines you’ve developed to manage your life and your work are all just habits. If you look objectively at the state of any area of your life from the condition of your home, office, or car, to your relationships, your finances, or your health and fitness, what you see are the results of your habits. If you love what you see, then do more of whatever you’re doing!
On the other hand, if what you see isn’t so terrific, sorry to say, that’s also the result of your habits. If your habits haven’t created the life and results you want, it’s time to change them. Here’s how to make a change in three simple steps…
- Pay Attention In The Moment. If you mentally “check-in” with what you do on a daily basis in the midst of your routines, you’ll notice that you do things without even realizing it. Some of those ingrained habits are positive (putting the cap back on the toothpaste or putting the seat down without even thinking) while some others aren’t so great (throwing the mail on the kitchen counter and ignoring it for a few days, trying to throw together meals on the fly, writing phone messages on scraps of paper that you end up losing, trying to keep up with multiple calendars).
- Choose a Different Thought In The Moment. Once you notice what you’re doing, you’re halfway there! Your thoughts created those habitual behaviors, and therefore your thoughts can create new ones. For example, change your thinking from: “I’ll just put this here for now and handle it later” to “I’ll take a minute and handle this now.” Change “I’ll remember that appointment in my head” to “I’ll add that to my calendar now so I don’t have to remember it.”You’ll be AMAZED at how powerful this one specific change is! As long as you just pay attention to yourself, you’ll be able to hear those thoughts that precede the ineffective behavior.
- Choose A Different Behavior In The Moment. Habits are the behaviors generated by thoughts. If you change your thoughts, you can change your behaviors. This is where your power lives. You can change your thinking (which is GREAT!) but unless you ACT on that change, your results will stay the same.
The secret sequence to change a habit is:
- Pay attention.
- Choose a new thought.
- Act on that new thought.
Once you apply that sequence to a few of your negative habits a handful of times, your new behavior will begin to be the new “default” — you’ll replace your old habits with powerful new ones, which will create a totally new result in your life.