Habits Articles

7 Ways to Break Clutter’s Emotional Grip

Friday, March 20th, 2015

5-effective-ways-to-curb-clutterExcept in cases of compulsive hoarding, the word “clutter” is associated more with annoyance than with addiction. Yet as with all dependencies, the piling up of possessions, obligations or worries creates a powerful comfort zone. It also brings pain at any thought of major change.

There can be an emotional tug-of-war between the longing for better things and the dread of climbing out of our rut to walk forward. It’s hard to make progress when you’re weighed down by and emotionally attached to clutter:

  • You never have time to write that book.
  • You can’t take that vacation because impulse purchases eat your budget.
  • You’re getting nowhere losing weight because you run back to comfort food at every frustration.

What Habits Are Best for Channeling Creativity?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

paintbrushwithcolorsWhen I tell people that I’ve been working on Better Than Before, my book about habit change, one of the questions that people most often ask me is: “What habits are best for creativity?” They want to know what habits help people think creatively — and also, actually produce.

Often, people make the case for adopting a particular habit by pointing to a renowned figure who practiced that habit, with great success. For instance:

How Anxiety and Guilt Affect Your To-Do List

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

to do list

Do you keep a running to-do list that never seems to end? Do self-directed commands such as “send emails” or “write resume” or “buy salad ingredients” always end up on tomorrow’s list because of a lack of time today? You may even find yourself saying, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!”

A new study, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, brings encouraging news for those of us who feel we can never get it all done: It may not be more hours that we need, say the researchers, just an emotional readjustment of sorts. In other words, if you were to break down each item on your to-do list into minutes or hours, you would probably find that, yes, timewise, you could squeeze everything in this week.

25 Productive Things to Do When You Have Just 5 Minutes

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

MeditatingI’m slow to do most things. Getting out of bed. Taking a shower. Getting dressed. Writing articles. Reading. Washing the dishes. Cleaning the house. So when I think of being productive, I think I need long stretches of time.

But in reality we can do quite a bit with just five minutes.

A few years ago, journalist and author Laura Vanderkam penned this piece on Fast Company about 17 productive ways we can spend five minutes — instead of checking our email yet again.

3 Simple but Significant Strategies for Shrinking Self-Criticism

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

what-happens-when-we-grieveMany of us say mean things to ourselves on a regular basis. I’m such an idiot. I’m such a failure. I can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake! Oh, wait, yes, I can. I can’t believe I get anxious over the smallest things. Why can’t I do anything right?

We berate ourselves constantly. The negative dialogue becomes so automatic we don’t even realize we’re doing it. It becomes the soundtrack to our lives, insults playing in the background between breakfast and lunch, during work and all the way to bedtime.

How Laura Ingalls Wilder Got a Rebel to Learn His Lessons

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

thesehappygoldenyearsI’m a huge fan of children’s literature (in fact, I’m in three reading groups where we read children’s and young-adult literature), and Laura Ingalls Wilder has always had a special place in my heart.

So I was thrilled when I found out that her book Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, was being published. I raced through the book last week; so fascinating. For instance, it turns out Nellie Olsen was an amalgam of three annoying girls.

What Self-Care Looks Like

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

goodbye-weekends-connected-world-ruining-themSelf-care has many faces. The definition really depends on who you ask. That’s because self-care is personal. But there is an overarching theme: Self-care is critical, for ourselves and others.

Ali Miller, MFT, a therapist in private practice in Berkeley and San Francisco, Calif., likened self-care to putting on your oxygen mask before helping others on a plane.

“I see self-care as a way of … refueling and tending to my own needs because my needs matter, in and of themselves; and because I like how I show up for others better when I am coming from a resourced place.”

Struggling with a Ruminating Mind? 5 Strategies to Help

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Whats in a NameRuminating is replaying mistakes you’ve made. It’s replaying the times you might’ve failed. It’s thinking over and over again about all the reasons why you’re not good enough. Ruminating is dwelling on the decision you should’ve made but didn’t.

It’s thinking a litany of what-ifs: What if I screwed up the interview? What if I don’t get that job? What if I don’t get any job anytime soon? What if I won’t be able to pay my bills? What if I’ll lose my home?

Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re stuck in a ruminating cycle. It’s become all too automatic — a playlist of personal regrets, failures, inadequacies and anxieties.

Spring Cleaning: Surprising Strategies for Finally Organizing Your Space

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Tough_Love_BSPThis spring you might be planning to declutter. Because after multiple attempts to get organized, you’re still not seeing much progress.

Or maybe you decide against decluttering because you think you’re disorganized by nature. Maybe you think you don’t have time to make big changes in your home.

One Way to Use Someone Else to Strengthen Your Good Habits

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

hospitalnightIn Better Than Before, my book about habit change, I outline twenty-one strategies we can use to change our habits.

Don’t be alarmed: twenty-one may seem like a huge number, but it’s actually good — it means that each of us has many options from which to choose. In different situations, at different times, different strategies will be most helpful.

It’s clear, however, that one of the most popular and effective strategies is Accountability.

Rewriting the Script: What if You Dropped Your Usual Roles?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

life newI often feel like my husband always gets to be the good guy and I have to keep the balance by being the bad guy. I have to be the one to naysay. Ask him to dinner, but he’ll check with me before answering.

“My wife says we’re doing something that night.”

That’s me — Mrs. Joykill.

Signs You’re Stuck in Unrealistic Thinking

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

How to Decode Your AnxietyOne of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is to become self-aware. When we’re self-aware, we take notice of our thoughts and feelings. We observe them. We examine how they drive our decisions and shape our lives.

And we have the opportunity to make decisions that are genuinely helpful for us — from how we spend our days to how we care for ourselves to how we relate to others.

Often, our thoughts are inaccurate. And they might sabotage our goals or aspirations. They might trigger undue stress.

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