Category Archives: habits

It’s Not That Simple

I’m standing in my kitchen. I need to empty my coffee maker. I’d like to clean it out too.

it's not that simple Toys on stair with foot about to step no them.

But I’m stuck. The compost bin is full and if I attempt to dump coffee grounds in it, the grounds will end up all over the counter.

I don’t want to take the time to empty the compost bin before I clean out the coffee maker. It’s a few steps, but it feels like too many right now. I have other things I need to get to. 

So, I do what any sane person would do in this situation, I walk away to deal with it later. 

While this is a simple (and maybe silly) problem, this feeling of being stuck, of wanting to deal with something but feeling overwhelmed by the steps, is common. 

It might be wanting to hire a housecleaner or a nanny. Maybe it’s getting your kids to do more around the house. Or you want regular date nights with your partner but don’t have a reliable babysitter.

Whatever it is, take a few minutes to figure out the steps to get you there. Whether it’s researching babysitters or asking your neighbors for their housecleaner recommendations.

Whether it’s something where you need to do it yourself or you want to delegate it, getting started is tough.

But think about what that’s costing you in the long run. If you could hire a nanny or a house cleaner, what kind of time would that get you? 

Figure out the first step and then take it.

Join my virtual community, Chaos Contained. We talk about this stuff (and more)!

And, if you’re based in Denver and that project includes offloading a chore, try https://callemmy.com/

Or, receive a free PDF to help get you started.

    The Ideal Mother

    Last week we talked about maternal gatekeeping. How, as women, we’re conditioned to believe we’re better at parenting and housekeeping than our partners. How we are the ones who need to control everything, to ensure it’s done right (or done at all). And how we need to stop letting society create these ridiculous standards. 

    This conditioning comes from what’s known as the Ideal Mother. This is the idea that a mother know’s best. We’re led to believe this from a young age. 

    Men are conditioned to believe they are the ideal worker and the breadwinner. Jobs are designed around the ideal worker. The person who is always available for their work. They don’t have a life outside of work. It’s expected that there’s someone else (usually a wife), at home making sure the kids are taken care of, the house is cleaned, and dinner is on the table. 

    So what happens when the wife works too? Life gets complicated. Women are expected to work like they don’t have a family to take care of and care for their family like they don’t have a job. 

    But this isn’t possible and it isn’t fair. And it’s time to break this expectation. 

    And it starts with a conversation. 

    Yes, this might feel like one more thing you have to do. And it is. But it’s also the only way we’re going to change things. We need to get our partners on board here. And not in a guilt and shame-filled way. But in a way that leads us to be true partners, sharing childcare and household tasks in a way that’s fair to everyone. (that is different from sharing things 50/50). 

    woman overwhelmed by too many tasks around the house. the ideal mother maternal gatekeeping

    One of the first things to discuss is an acceptable level of cleanliness and which Eve Rodksy, in her book Fair Play, labels Minimum Standard of Care. These are the agreed-upon expectations of everything in a house. Who cleans out the cat litter and when does it happen? What about the trash? What about family activities, like soccer, piano lessons, church choir, etc.? How many activities does each family member take on each season? How often do you have family dinners? 

    When my kids started elementary school, I decided we were only attending birthday parties with my kids’ friends. Not every birthday party. We were not going to sign up for every activity possible. Each person gets one, maybe two activities per semester. 

    Remember, you do not need to spend every day after school driving your kids around to activities. Pick one of their favorites. Carpool. Schedule things so it all happens on one crazy day, where you have take-out for dinner. Or where you can trade off with your partner on who does the driving. Meet a friend for a walk around the park while your kids are at soccer practice. Or spend one-on-one time with one kid while the other(s) are at practice. 

    Don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything.

    There is no need to wear yourself out. It is ok for kids to be kids. To learn how to entertain themselves. Let them figure it out. 

    If you want to talk more about how to incorporate this in your life, how to let go of all of the tasks, schedule some time with me!

    If you want a PDF to get you started down this path, sign up below.

      Overwhelmed By The Options

      As we’re coming out of the pandemic fog and intentionally rebuilding our lives, let’s take a look at our task lists. There might be piles of things that need to be cleaned out or purged. Maybe you have lists of house projects you wanted to do during this past year but never got around to. You might have activities you want to get yourself and your family back into. Are you overwhelmed by the options?

      man looking at stickie notes of question marks on the wall. Overwhelmed by the options.

      Around here, we had delayed doctor’s appointments (dentist, eye doctor, physicals, etc.). We had closets full of things we’d purged but hadn’t donated. There are projects around the house we’ve been delaying. All of these are decisions weighing on our brains that we’re not taking care of. So they rattle around in our heads because our brains wonder why we’re not immediately taking care of them. 

      We’ve been talking about what we want the next few months to look like. Our kids won’t be vaccinated for a while, so not much is going to change for us. We’d like to spend much of the summer camping. There are a few friends we’d like to see. Otherwise, we’re going to continue staying home, hanging out in our backyard. Making homemade ice cream and playing in the sprinkler.

      Last week I asked you to start thinking about the things you want to keep or shift going forward. How’d that go?

      Are you diving back into everything or taking it slow? 

      One of the things I’ve most appreciated about this past year is how it forced families to slow down. To stop running from one activity to another. Families are no longer spending their weekends attending birthday parties and soccer games or other sports. And no longer reaching Sunday night exhausted and not ready to start the next week. 

      I think society has us conditioned to believe that we must say yes to everything that comes our way. Our kids won’t get into a good college if they’re not playing multiple sports in elementary school. That our kids are going to cause trouble if every moment is not scheduled. 

      But what does that do to our family time and our own sanity? When we simply become activity directors and drivers for our kids. Scheduling playdates, music lessons, sports, etc. for every minute of the day? When do our kids simply get to be kids and learn how to entertain themselves? It is possible for your kids to learn how to entertain themselves. It might take some time, but it can be done. 

      As you discuss what you’re going to start doing over the next few months, think about creating family meta-decisions. This is an overarching guideline used to make decisions. It could be that each family member gets 1 activity per semester, including parents. Maybe it’s one sport and one other activity. One could be that each parent has one night each week where they are out of the house. Every Friday is a family movie and pizza night. Whatever works for your family. 

      Create these guidelines and they’ll make your schedule easier to figure out. These guidelines create guardrails against the craziness of diving right back into everything we think we missed. They will help contain the chaos! 

      Read more about meta-decisions here.

      If you want to talk more about how to incorporate meta-decisions in your life, schedule some time with me.

      And, if you want a PDF on how to start thinking about these ideas, sign up below.

        Coming Out Of The Fog

        We’ve all been in a fog this past year. There has been so much unknown, fear, and uncertainty. As we move forward to the next chapter, it’s like we’re coming out of the fog. Let’s make sure we come out of this fog with some intention and focus.

        I’ve heard from many moms how much they’ve enjoyed having family dinners together on a regular basis. Not rushing around from so many activities. Not being so overbooked on the weekends. I’ve enjoyed not rushing around in the mornings getting everyone ready for the day. I like that we all sit down for lunch together.

        stone steps through green grass. coming out of the fog

        Yes, moms have been overwhelmed with so much this past year. The unknown. Remote learning. Decision fatigue. Working while your kid is sitting next to you at the dining room table. The piles of laundry and dishes that seem to accumulate when you’re not looking (which, let’s be honest, is not just a pandemic thing). The fact that everyone has to eat what feels like all the time. The worrying about the health of loved ones. The laying awake at 2 am worrying about everything. Again, the unknown.

        So what’s next?

        As life around us starts to open up, what are you doing next? Take some time to answer these questions. Ask your family these questions! Use them as a starting point for what’s next.

        • What is it you want to keep about this past year? (For me, it’s Sunday night card games with my husband).
        • What from your pre-pandemic life do you not miss? (For me, it’s saying yes to things because I feel I should. I’m going to be much more intentional about how I spend my time).
        • What do you want your life to look like going forward?

        Let’s not go back to the crazy, overwhelmed, rushing around we did pre-pandemic. Say yes to what is important to us. Let’s build back better than we were in 2019. Let’s get intentional about our lives.

        Who’s with me?

        Keep reading about this topic:

        One Big Interruption

        Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds

        If you want some guidance around getting started on these ideas, schedule time with me or sign up below.

          Scientist and Experiment

          When you’re making changes in your life, it’s not just building willpower and repeating something every day until it sticks. It’s taking a look at all the activities and people in your life and changing these sources of influence to better support you.

          One of my favorite books on habits is Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

          It looks at six sources of influence and how they impact your life. 

          Let’s start with willpower. Have you heard of the Marshmallow Experiment? The one where kids are told to sit in front of a marshmallow. If they can go 15 minutes without eating it, they get a second one? The kids who were able to delay gratification of eating that marshmallow were shown to be more successful in life. 

          Most people assume that means the kids simply had more willpower. But that is far from the truth. The kids who were able to delay gratification had skills that helped them. Skills that we can all learn. 

          This means that your struggle to get up early every day, stop eating chocolate, or stop shopping at the $1 bins at Target has very little to do with willpower. When we blame our failures on willpower, we ignore all of the influences around us that impact our ability. 

          We try the latest fad to lose weight (it doesn’t stick). We follow the KonMari method of organizing and get rid of everything that doesn’t bring us joy (then go out and buy more stuff). We wonder if we’re ever going to stop procrastinating or reach any of our big life goals because we can’t seem to get a handle on our to-do list. 

          One thing that’s missing here is that everyone is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. We need to try things, see what works and tweak where necessary. We need to constantly examine what we’re doing. 

          Be The Scientist and The Experiment

          Try being both the scientist and the experiment in your life. Start thinking about the behaviors you want to change. Where do you struggle?

          Answer the questions below. These answers will help you on this journey. 

          • 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.

          Keep reading about these ideas here.

          If you want help with building new habits in your life, contact me!

          Busy Is A Four-Letter Word

          Yes, I said it. I think busy is a four-letter word. And not a good one.

          Are you constantly doing something? A task on your to-do list? A commitment or activity?

          busy is a four-letter word

          Is everything that you’re doing moving you forward personally or professionally? Or the required parts of living, like dishes and laundry? 

          Or are there things on there that you do but aren’t really necessary? You’re going through the motions, without thinking about what you’re doing? (It’s ok, be honest with yourself here). 

          I think our society treats being busy as a badge of honor. 

          We’re a country that doesn’t guarantee time off. Most companies who do offer vacation time only offer about two weeks. And those of us who have vacation rarely take that time. And if we do, we’re checking emails and taking calls. 

          We never really rest. 

          Outside of work, we have ourselves and our kids signed up for every activity under the sun. Every minute is a scheduled play date, sports, or music activity. Weekends are full of birthday parties, more play dates, more sports. 

          We can’t let ourselves or our kids ever utter the sentence I’m bored. (Side note here, I’ve read isn’t actually that they’re bored, but that they want connection with you. And giving them connection, and sitting with them in their boredom for a few minutes, moves them out of it). 

          We never stop that constantly running list in our head. When we’re working, we’re thinking about the house tasks and if we’ve spent enough time with our kids. When we’re with our kids, we’re thinking of all the other tasks we’re not doing. 

          So we’re never really present in our lives. This is part of our overwhelm. This constantly feeling like there’s something else we need to be doing.  

          And we complain about it, but in a way that makes it seem like there’s really nothing we can do about it. (Or that we enjoy it, maybe, we’re not sure. We’re too tired to really figure it out). 

          So what do we do?

          What happens if we say no to a few of those birthday party invitations? To all the activities? Picking one or two for each family member each season? 

          What if we make time for leisure? For rest? 

          Those to-do lists are always going to be there. There will always be something that needs to be done.

          If you have ways to manage your tasks (something I talk often about here and in my virtual community) you know that your big stuff is taken care of. It’s documented. It’s scheduled. There’s time. So you can focus on the work task or spending time with the kids.

          What are you going to do with this leisure? 

          Want to keep reading? Here’s more!

          If you’re struggling with how to make time for leisure or letting go of the guilt of it, schedule some time with me!

          Next week, we will look at how to know if you are too busy!

          Stop It

          Stop redoing the dishwasher after someone else has loaded it. Stop picking up the toys your kids needed to pick up. Stop taking on more tasks around the house or at work because you think no one else is going to do it as well. 

          stop it.

          You are wearing yourself out. 

          Sure, you might be able to fit more dishes in the dishwasher if you loaded it. But, if someone else already loaded it, then the task is done. Cross it off the list and move on. 

          In college, I had a roommate who would reclean the bathroom after I did it. Because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. So I stopped cleaning the bathroom. What was the point? I wasn’t wasting my energy doing something that wasn’t respected. 

          And I wonder if this happens in our own houses. As women, we take on tasks or redo tasks because no one else is going to do it up to our standards. 

          But how is that serving you or those in your household? What is that teaching your kids? 

          Of course, your kids aren’t going to put their toys away exactly as you would. But if they’re put away (even if they’re in the wrong boxes), does it matter? Sure, your partner does things differently. He or she is not you. My husband folds towels differently than I do. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I occasionally fold them that way now too. 

          The point of all of this is a mindset shift. Find a way to let go of the way others do things. Let them be a part of the household, helping each other get things done. 

          If it’s important to you that something is done a certain way, explain it to the rest of your family. Help them learn it. Then let go. Or, if it’s really important, do it yourself. But you don’t get to complain when no one else helps. 

          I’m not saying this is easy. I still struggle with it on occasion. But I’m working on saying to myself, Great, that’s one thing I can cross off my list.  

          And I move on to the next task. 

          Let me know what your mindset shifts need to be! What are you working on this week?

          Here’s more on this topic.

          I Don’t Have Time For That

          Do you keep appointments you make for yourself? What about making time to do those things that aren’t high priorities but are things you’d like to do someday?

          The things you know would make you happy or contribute to society in some way, but you’re too busy cleaning the house, completing work tasks, and entertaining the kids to get to?

          What if you made appointments with yourself that you kept as strictly as you would a client meeting, doctor’s appointment, or coffee with a friend?

          I’ve had several people ask me how to make time for things they’d like to do but aren’t high priorities. Taking digital classes (personal or professional), volunteering, doing things outside of chore and work lists.

          I suggest spending just 30 minutes taking a class. It’s not much, but over time you will make progress. Treat the time you schedule for yourself with as much respect as you would a client appointment or coffee with a friend.

          Another suggestion includes letting go of the need to keep up with all the household tasks all the time. I’m not saying let your house grow mold. But what if you spend one afternoon a month volunteering (when it’s safe to do so)? Your house isn’t going to fall apart during that time. Volunteering can be something social, where you meet new people. It can be something you do as a family.

          And at the end of your life, you’re not going to remember having a spotless, well-maintained home. Or how many things you crossed off your task list. You’re going to remember the things you did with your family and friends. The experiences you created.

          I’m not saying you should skip out on your priorities. But we also need to make time for ourselves and time for fun. And it’s ok to schedule it. You should schedule it, otherwise, it’s not going to happen.

          And, when you take breaks from your task list, you just might find yourself more productive when you come back to it. You might find that doing something else helps you solve some big client problem or gives you an idea for something at work.

          Are You Letting Tech Control You?

          Let’s talk about technology. It can be a wonderful thing. Caller ID. Text messaging. The ability to see the faces of friends and loved ones who live far away. Any funny meme that helps you get through the day.

          But technology is also full of time sucks and interruptions. Your phone constantly dinging with message alerts. Your email notifications popping up while you are working. Someone commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post.

          All of this distracts us from our priorities. We can’t focus on deep work when we’re constantly being interrupted. Or, we think the interruption is a priority so we stop what we’re doing to answer the phone, read the emails, respond to the text messages.

          What if you took back control of your time and focus? What if you turned off those notifications, closed the email programs, and didn’t have your phone constantly in your hand or pocket?

          I’m going to guess that the world will continue on just fine. It won’t stop spinning. And, you are likely to be more productive and not feel pulled in so many directions!

          Here are some more ideas to stop letting tech control you!

          • Respond to those messages and calls on your time.
          • Have auto-responders for your email stating you received their email and will respond within 24 business hours (or whatever your company requires for responses).
          • Have specific times of the day that you sit at your computer and process emails. Block the time on your calendar. Spend that time only processing your emails.
          • Turn off all notifications to email, text, etc.
          • Turn your phone on silent or leave it in another room when you are doing some deep work.
          • Put an analog clock somewhere in your office so you’re not looking at your phone to check the time. Plus, analog clocks give you a better understanding of the passing of time!

          What are you going to do this week to stop letting tech control you?

          If you want to talk further about better control over your tech, schedule a 30-minute phone call with me! Or read more about multitasking (which you’re likely doing with all those tech interruptions!)

          Are You Tired Of The Interruptions?

          We’re spending this month talking about interruptions. Last week we looked at how this pandemic has been one big life interruption (and 2021 isn’t shaping up to be all that different!) and how now is a great time to really examine the life we are creating. What activities, people, habits, things do we want in our lives? What is important to us?

          This week we’re going to look at a practical idea for dealing with interruptions both in your house and at work.

          interruptions, office hours

          Think about scheduling office hours. This minimizes interruptions and can be used in the office or when working at home. You get to focus on deep work, the stuff you never get to because you’re always being interrupted.

          Let people know that during certain hours, you do not want to be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. If someone does interrupt when it’s not office hours, ask if they can come back. If not, decide if it’s worth the interruption. And make a note of what you were working on so you can get back to it when it’s time.

          Find a way to mark your office door, calendar, or wherever you work so your family or colleagues know you’re working.

          Then, during certain hours, your door is open and people can ask questions and talk to you. Focus on work that can be easily interrupted, such as processing emails, work that requires less thinking, etc.

          Yes, it might take some time for your family to understand and learn to respect these boundaries. Especially if they’re used to interrupting you and having you respond immediately.

          But hold to these boundaries. Everyone will be happier in the long run, mostly because you’ll be less annoyed!

          Want to talk more about dealing with interruptions in your life? Schedule a free 30-minute phone call!

          Stop Wasting Time

          How much time do you waste on a daily basis? Are you aware of how much you procrastinate or put off a task because you don’t want to do it or are not clear on the next steps? A 2015 time/work survey showed that 70% of people waste time because they feel stressed or uninspired. And 50% spend too much time procrastinating. Does this sound familiar?

          Stop Wasting Time

          I’ve noticed my kids fight doing something they don’t want to do. They spend more time arguing with me or coming up with excuses to get out of doing something, like taking a bath or picking up a few toys, than if they’d just do the task. In most cases, watching TV is waiting for them at the other end of this task. And if they’d just do it, they’d have more TV time. They’ll be running around the house. I’ll ask them to pick up a few toys. Suddenly they’re laying on the floor, too tired to help!

          Think of the emotional and mental drain of this!

          Stop Wasting Time!

          So how do you work through this? Here are a few ideas.

          • Identify the next steps. Break any overwhelming projects down into small steps. Then you take the next step, then the next, until you complete the project
          • Set mini-deadlines. Take the small steps you identified and set deadlines for each one. Hold yourself to those deadlines. Make yourself accountable to someone else or set up payment to a non-profit you can’t stand. If you don’t make the deadline, your payment goes!
          • Set a timer. Work for 30 minutes or any predetermined amount of time. When the timer goes off, you can stop for the day. Or, you can keep working. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

          Are You Avoiding Something? Figure Out Why.

          Maybe you’re avoiding a project or task for a specific reason. It’s boring and tedious. Sometimes, you have to power through something to get to the good stuff on the other side. Maybe it’s challenging (break it down into doable steps). Maybe it’s something you don’t like doing for your own business but you’re not at the level yet where you can outsource it.

          Spend some time figuring out why you’re avoiding something and you can likely figure out a solution. Also, think about what you could be doing with your time if you’d complete those tasks. Your future self will thank you!

          For support with your relationship with time, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

          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

          Why Should I Bother Getting Organized?

          That’s a great question. You feel like you’re functioning just fine with all of your stuff. Maybe you spend 20 minutes in the morning looking for a pair of shoes (yours or your kids), every now and then. You can find something important on your desk if given a few minutes to search for something. And you rarely miss any appointments. So why bother getting organized?why bother getting organized

          Maybe, taking the time to get yourself organized would greatly benefit you. It might give you more time with your family. Or maybe your mornings won’t feel so hectic and you’ll get to work focused and ready for the day. Your evenings won’t leave you feeling exhausted and wanting to collapse on the couch. And you won’t spend your weekends frantically trying to get everything done that didn’t get done during the week.

          You will be less stressed. If you clean up your desk at the end of the day and prepare for tomorrow’s tasks, you can start each day in a much more efficient manner. You won’t spend the morning trying to figure out what you need to do that day, you can just dive right in.

          Being more efficient during the day means you just might get to leave work before the sun sets. So you can get yourself to the gym or dinner with friends. Or home to see the kids before they go to bed.

          When things have a home, as in your keys go in the same place every time you walk in the house, your kids know where to take their shoes off, and your pantry items are where they belong, you won’t spend so much time looking for things.

          If you’re staying on top of your tasks and clutter, you can focus on what’s important to you. You won’t spend dinner with your family thinking about all of the things you didn’t get done today and all the things you need to do tomorrow. You may still be writing to-do lists on the shower wall every now and then. But you’ll know that you have a clear path to getting those things done as necessary.

          There are many benefits to being organized. These are just a few to get you thinking about what reasons you might have to get organized this year. If you’d like some help figure this out in your life, schedule a call or send me a message!

          Procrastination

          ProcrastinationLet’s talk a little about procrastination. Have you ever just put away your to-do list because it looks like too much work. Or stepped over a laundry basket instead of taking the time to put away the clothes? How about letting the pile of mail get bigger and bigger instead of sitting down and going through it? We all do it. Sometimes we just don’t want to deal with a project, big or small. We’d rather just wait until tomorrow.

          But the longer you wait, the bigger the pile gets or the  less time you have to work on a project. Here are some ideas for working through that desire to procrastinate.

          1. Gather the tools you need the night before. Lay out your gym clothes, gather the paint and painting supplies (maybe even start taping), gather the paperwork and files, etc. Getting started the night before helps you get a jump start on the project.
          2. Tackle a project when you feel at your best. That may be first thing in the morning or right after lunch. Whatever time of day it is, focus on your most important task.
          3. Break down a project into manageable steps. Sort the mail (pulling out the important stuff), shred all of the junk mail. Then tomorrow sit down and deal with everything that needs attention.
          4. Spend 15 minutes a day on something (cleaning out photos, paperwork, emails).
          5. Do the worst part first. It’ll only get easier!

          Just take that first step. Sometimes you just need to find some motivation to get started and you’ll be able to keep going. Think about tomorrow and if you want to wake up to that dirty kitchen or that pile of mail. If you take care of it now, your future self will thank you!

          If you want some help getting started, schedule a call or send me a message!

          What’s Your Bill Paying Process?

          bill paying processNo one likes paying bills. Unfortunately, it’s something we all have to do. The third week of February happens to be National Pay Your Bills week. So I thought I’d share a few tips on making your bill paying process a little bit easier.

          1. Keep all of your incoming bills in one location. This could be a folder or inbox on your desk or a box on your kitchen counter. Where ever it is, all bills that need to be paid should go in it. 
          2. Keep all of your bill paying supplies in one place. Stamps, pens, pencils, your checkbook, envelopes, return labels, etc. should all be kept together. If you like paying your bills while watching TV, keep the supplies in a box that you can take with you to the couch and store out of the way when you don’t need it.
          3. Balance your checkbook before you pay bills. Pull out the receipts from your wallet. (We have one spot in our house where all receipts go so I don’t have to go bothering my husband about receipts when I want to balance our books.) Keep in mind any debits or credits that are going to happen in the next few weeks (such as incoming salary or automated bills being paid). This way you won’t overdraw your accounts.
          4. Sit down 1-2 times a month and pay all your bills at one time. Make these regular times, say the 3rd and 24th of each month.
          5. Immediately record all the paid bills either in your checkbook or your computer software register and (if necessary) file them.
          6. Automate payments where possible. Maybe you can have your cable bill and phone bill automatically put on your credit card. Ensure you review those bills regularly to ensure you’re not overpaying.
          7. Pay your bills online. I log on to my checking account and pay all of our utility bills at the same time. You can even post date when necessary. Maybe you’re headed out of town and need some bills paid while you’re gone. You can do this with online bill payments.
          8. Consolidate your money as much as possible. Have only 1-2 debit and credit cards to use for everything. You don’t need all those department store cards or gas cards. Fewer bills coming in means it’s easier to keep track of where your money is going.

          I hope these tips help you create an easier bill paying process!  If you want some support in creating new routines, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

          You Do Have More Time Than You Think!

          you do have more timeYou have 168 hours every week. You’re in charge of how you spend those hours. Are you using your time as best as you can? According to Laura Vanderkam, you have more time than you think. And I agree with her!

          We have dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, microwave ovens, and many other devices to help us get more done quicker. So why does it feel like you still have more to do than you have time?

          Maybe it’s how you’re using that time. If you’re watching 23-30 hours of TV a week, like the average American, that’s a lot of time you could be doing something else. Or maybe you’ve signed your kids up for every activity imaginable and you’re rushing around to 1-2 activities every night, trying to figure out how to get your older child to swim practice at 4:00 and pick up your youngest from karate across town at 4:30, all so you can get home, figure out what to make for dinner and head out to choir practice at 6:30.

          Maybe you struggle to get everyone out the door in the morning because lunches need to be made, you need to sign a permission slip for your son, your daughter needs help finding her soccer cleats for practice tonight, and you need to gather paperwork for an important meeting.

          Or maybe you feel exhausted come Sunday night because you had 3 birthday parties, grocery shopping, errands to run, a house to clean, and a family dinner to attend. You’re left wondering where your weekend went and still feel like you have a million things to do, let alone spending any time relaxing with your spouse.

          So What Can I Do?

          So how do you fix it? Can you? I’ll give you a few ideas to get started. Then read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think for even more.

          Start by keeping a time log. For one week, log everything you do and how long it takes you. Once you know how you’re spending your time, you can identify things that you can change or tweak. I’m guessing this task will be eye-opening.

          Think about your morning and evening routines.

          What can you do at night to make the morning run smoother? And vice versa. Pack lunches and gather paperwork, sports equipment, etc. at night to save time in the morning. Conduct nightly clean ups, putting all toys, books, and laundry away so clutter doesn’t pile up. Plan meals out for the week so you’re not scrambling to feed hungry family members at the end of the day.

          Don’t pack your schedules so full that there’s no room for emergencies, last-minute changes, or even spontaneity. Maybe each family member gets one activity per semester. Have one day a week with no technology, unless you’re watching a moving together. Or if your family enjoys being so busy, see if you can share carpool duties with 1-2 other families so you’re not driving all the time.

          Plan your weekends a day or two early if possible.

          My husband and I will talk about the things we need to get done (errands, groceries, cleaning) and things we’d like to do (go hiking, go out for ice cream) and anything else that’s already planned (birthday parties, family dinners). We’ll identify who’s doing what and when we’re doing it. Then we’ll check in throughout the weekend to see how we’re doing on our tasks and if anything needs to be tweaked. I by no means am saying our weekends are always perfect. I have many Sunday nights where I wonder where the time went and why it feels like I got nothing done. But planning our weekends makes them easier.

          See what other tasks can be outsourced. Can you hire a cleaning service? Find a way to have your groceries delivered? Automate your bill payments? Delegate tasks to your kids? Depending on their age, they can empty the dishwasher and help clean up meals or put away their own laundry. Maybe they can even be in charge of their own laundry from start to finish. Maybe they’re old enough to help with dinner or make dinner for the family every now and then. It may feel like a bigger hassle to teach them these things, but in the long run, it will be helpful.

          There are numerous other tips I could provide, but these should get you started. Think about how you’re spending your time and what changes can be made so you feel less overwhelmed. Remember, you do have more time than you think!

          If you want some guidance in sorting out where your time goes, schedule a call with me or send me a message!