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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« 3 Tips to Feed the Possibilities | Fall Organizing Giveaway »

5 Tips to Eliminate Your Excuses

What happens when we let ourselves make excuses? We all do it at some point, don’t we? Whether we can’t move ahead because we’re stuck, tired, sad, time poor, or unenthusiastic, we can be really good at coming up with those “can’t dos.” I will fess up that while typically I’m excellent at activating and doing, there have been darker periods when it’s just harder to think of the possibilities and moving forward.

One way to stop the negative cycle is to pay attention to the excuses. Be an investigator and use the excuses as clues to figure out how to move past them. In the spirit of this fall season, with colors and temperatures changing, why not use this time as an opportunity for opening up the possibilities and get over of the excuses? Here is the short list.

5 Tips to Eliminate Your Excuses

1. I’m stuck.

Tip: What is making you feel stuck? Is there too much information to choose from? Are you unsure about what to do next? Think about narrowing the choices or putting parameters around the amount of research you need before moving forward. Make the next step very small. If that's a challenge, ask a trusted friend or confidant to help figure out the one small action to take that will move you beyond stuck.

2. I’m tired.

Tip: Being exhausted makes it more difficult to focus, plan, and act. It’s important to take care of basic needs. If you are tired, then pay attention to your sleep habits. Is it time to revisit the amount of sleep you’re getting? How about the quality of your sleep? For example, I need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to feel rested and ready for the next day. If I get less than that, it takes me days to get back my energy.

3. I’m sad.

Tip: Life is filled with high and low points. It’s normal to experience periods of sadness. Sadness can occur for many reasons including grief, divorce, seasonal affective disorder, emotional contagion, or hormonal shifts. If however, your sadness is extended and unshakeable, consider reaching out for professional help from a therapist or other medical professional. You can feel better, but you may need outside help to get there.

4. I’m time poor.

Tip: As far as I know, time is a level playing field. We all have 24 hours each day. It’s true that some of us pack more into those 24 hours than others, but it still comes down to choice and self-management. For every “yes,” you make, “no” gets said to something else. This isn’t a quick or easy process, but begin examining your values and needs. Once you’re clearer on those, build your choices and schedule from there. What is most meaningful and important will become integral to your daily experience. You will be more purposeful in your choices of how your time is being managed.

5. I’m unenthusiastic.

Tip: This is a huge indicator. When you’re resistant about doing something or moving forward, very often it’s because there is a “should” involved. This negatively effects our motivation. When I notice this happening, I stop to do some soul searching to make sure that the activity in question deserves my time and energy. Very often, I realize that letting go or making a different choice is the better option. Follow your passions and the enthusiasm and energy will be there to sustain you.

Do any of these seem familiar to you? What other excuses have you heard? What tip can you share to help? Come join the conversation.

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Reader Comments (20)

Being stuck can be a big one for me. Deciding WHAT to do so I can get on with doing it.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- I hear you on that one. Being "stuck" is huge. Sometimes it's difficult to know that next step. What has worked for you in the past when you get stuck?

October 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

what a wonderful post and great timing for me to read this. I needed to read this to get myself back in gear after a sluggish last few weeks! :-)

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElisa Cashiola

Elisa- So glad that you joined us. Wonderful to know that the timing of the post was right for you. I needed to hear these words too, which is what nudged me to write it. Isn't it amazing how easy it is to excuse our excuses? I'm paying attention to some of mine and challenging myself to move beyond them. Wishing you all the best in gearing up for your next step.

October 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, your posts are always so thought provoking. The exhaustion one really resonated me. There are so many types of fatigues that prey on our senses-- physical, emotional, environmental, that we truly need to pay attention to the signs and cues. So important! Very easy to confuse fatigue with feeling overwhelmed.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Josel

It really helps to have an accountability partner. The act of telling her about my plans forces me to be clearer in my own mind as to what it is I need to do.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Leslie- I love the distinction you make with the confusion between fatigue and being overwhelmed. When we are exhausted, it becomes harder to manage everything from our bodies to our emotions to our spaces. From their the overwhelm can take over. Getting the right amount of sleep or rest becomes essential for optimal living. Thank you for bringing "tired" to the next level.

@Janet- Brilliant idea about having an accountability partner. The psychology of how that works is extremely effective for minimizing excuses and moving ahead. In my coach's training, we worked on how to effectively use accountability. When it's done well, the results are truly amazing. Thank you for bringing this to our conversation.

October 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I am a great planner. Execution tends to overwhelm me because there is so much to do.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrace Dobson

Grace- What has worked for you to shift the "plans" to action? I know how overwhelming it can be to have a big list of to dos.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love the "be an investigator of excuses!" I wonder what my investigator would wear and be whistling or singing! And what an insightful list of excuses and solutions.

I sometimes hear: It's my ADD. It's my boss. It's my husband. We don't have...(time/money, etc.).

I read these points in each of your bullets above: taking responsibility for our choices, working on what we CAN manage and letting go of what we cannot manage or control. As always, really insightful thinking and beautiful writing - very useful to share.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersue west

Hey Sue- Nice add on about the "whistling" or "singing" investigator. I'm imagining whistle blower or maybe eye roller. I love the other excuses you've added to this list as ones you've heard.

And yes, it's about really hearing our own and then figuring out what we can do to move beyond them. This isn't necessarily easy to do, but it is possible. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom with us. I always love hearing what you're thinking about.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love the idea of narrowing choices to get unstuck! I have a personal thing with the number 3! Three choices of anything is what makes me move forward. Thanks for sharing all the ways to eliminate our excuses.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Linda, I love your posts! Always makes me think about them. I am right now trying to come with a solution to my need of longer hours of sleep. My husband is a night-owl and does his studying until late while the boys are (very) early risers! What is for a mom to do? So, I've been trying to adjust my schedule to give me some resting time during the day. I also feel stuck and often paralyzed when there's much to be done. I have practiced to plan way ahead to work in small bites. Thanks for the post!

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

@Ellen- That's so interesting that three is your magic number when it comes to making choices. It's fabulous that you know what you need to move ahead. I can't say that my personal number is as specific, but I do know that too many choices completely overwhelm me.

@Helena- I hear the challenge that you are describing. You want to be there for your family and everyone is on a different schedule. At the same time, you know what you need to function well (enough sleep!) To top it off, there are many things on your to do list and it doesn't feel like there's enough time to do everything. It sounds like you're open to trying out different schedules and plans to see what might work. Maybe also take a look at your expectations? How do they factor into the equation?

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thank you so much for this post, Linda. It couldn't have come at a better time for me. The last few weeks have pushed me behind and this is just what I needed to get back on track! I especially like your comment about "letting go". Sometimes it's just not possible to do it all and we have to decide which is the most important task, decide on it, and commit to it.

Peggy- I'm so glad this post gave you the "push" to shift you in the direction you wanted. You're so right that it isn't possible to do it all and prioritizing is part of that. But letting go is that other piece of that equation. We can be really hard on ourselves. I'm guilty of that too. I love "hearing" you on Twitter and it's so nice to see you here too. Thank you for stopping by to join the conversation.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I find Winter is the hardest for me and is when more excuses come up to not attend to what needs doing. some of the way I manage this is as you suggest get enough/more sleep and use my specialSeasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.'s) sun lamp -(no it's not like a tanning lamp! :) ). I have to monitor my supplement intake and often need to increase a few things I take to help maintian adequate energy levels. I have to obvisouly watch my diet and keep writing those to do lists to keep me on track.
Great tips Linda!
Claire McFee

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire McFee

Claire- It's wonderful to "hear" your voice! You are not alone with being affected by the darker days of winter. I know many people that use the SAD lamp and it helps them so much. I too find that I feel lighter and more positive on bright sun-filled days. It's harder for me to activate when it's dreary out. I love the wonderful ways that you practice good self-care by using the lamp, getting more sleep, increasing your supplement intake, being mindful of what you eat, and using your lists. Thank you for sharing with us. How is life in Australia?

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Life is brilliant in Oz thanks Linda -especially now it's Spring. I love Spring. I have soooooo much more energy. Garden is looking lovely. ....Flowers in the house - which bring a smile to my dial. Trust you are fighting fit?
C x

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire McFee

Claire- I love all the seasons, but I find spring particularly magical. It just rings of hope with blooms pushing up from the earth and the scent of growth at every turn. I can imagine how beautiful your garden must be. "Fighting fit!" What a fabulous expression. All is well here. Very much enjoying the gorgeous visual feast as the leaves change from green to oranges, reds, and yellows.

October 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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