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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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« How to Enhance Change and Your Happiness | What Can "Blank" Do For You? »

Change One Habit With This Easy and Clever Solution

Last month our conversations were about new beginnings and fresh starts. This month we’re focusing on change. As we move into the second month of the New Year, many of us are thinking about the changes we want to make. Getting organized is often top of the list as are losing weight, getting more exercise, eating more healthfully, and creating a better work/life balance.

Any change that we desire starts with the acknowledgment and awareness that in fact, we want to make a change. After awareness come changes in thinking, habits, and behaviors. For example, I’d like to eat fewer sweets. One way to do this is not to bring them home.

At the market, I saw my favorite cookies. Oh, how I love Tate’s chocolate chip cookies! I wanted to take them home with me. However, once they were in the house, I knew it would be impossible not to eat them. To reach my “eat less sweets” goal, not bringing the cookies home or avoiding the cookie aisle all together are examples of small habit changes that will help me reach my desired goal.

At the end of a recent organizing session with one of my clients, she jokingly said to me,

“I shouldn’t read the newspaper with scissors in my hand.”

The two of us burst out laughing. In one sentence she identified her challenge and thought of a clever tweak to her article clipping habit. Read without scissors.

For her, the piles of newspapers to read and articles to clip and manage had become a burden. As someone that loves learning and sharing what she learns with others, she often cuts out newspaper articles of interest. These articles become piles. The piles become to dos waiting for action. She recently recognized that many of the articles that she had clipped were outdated and could be recycled.

After spending many days sorting the backlog of newspapers, her attitude about article clipping shifted. She questioned her reasoning for keeping them, the time it took to manage them, and the reality that much of what had been important was no longer relevant. From this awareness, she had the insight, “I shouldn’t read the newspaper with scissors in my hand.”

It’s amazing how one small habit change can completely shift an outcome. So whether it’s leaving the cookies at the market or reading without scissors, it is possible to easily change a pattern to yield your desired outcome.

What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. What small change can you make to bring about the benefit you hope for?





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Reader Comments (18)

Linda, this is so true. When we shift our thinking or change a pattern of behavior we can help ourselves to bring about the change we seek to make in our lives. For me, I try to remember that nothing changes if nothing changes. I can't make a change in my life by thinking about it I have to change something in order to effect change.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

I find when I want to change a habit I need to consciously start a new one. It is hard to replace an action with a void. When I wanted to drink less soda, I intentionally started requiring myself to drink more water... a much easier adjustment!

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Diane- You're so right that action IS required for change. I've noticed that awareness comes before that. What has your experience been?

@Seana- What a great example! I love the intentionality about it too. I've read that starting a new habit is easier to do (because of our brain chemistry) than breaking an old one. In Charles Duhigg's book, "The Power of Habit", he also talks about changing "keystone" habits (like the scissors) as a way of having a positive domino effect that automatically changes other habits.

February 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

You are right Linda, the small change and the aknowledgement of the habits we want to modify, are keys to succed forming a better version of ourselves. Seana and Diane's points are also true nothing happens if we don't start to do something, and a way to do it is replacing habits, a good one in exchange of a bad one.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

I've added the habit this year of starting the day with a large glass of fresh-squeezed lemon water. Our lemon tree took years to produce, but last year we had a dozen lemons for the first time, and this year close to 100. I enjoy the ritual of cutting the lemons and gathering them in a basket, I love the way they look and smell in a pretty bowl on my kitchen counter and I feel virtuous doing something good for my health.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlys Milner

I know I have a weakness for pastries, but I also live with 3 other people who don't have to watch what they eat, so I put mine in the freezer as soon as they come in the house. I still eat them now and again, but the action of having to take them out of the freezer and defrost them, makes me pause and ask my self why I am really eating them.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Nacho- Ooooo. I love that phrase you chose, "…forming a better version of ourselves." What a lovely perspective on change.

@Alys- The scent and taste of lemon is one of my favorites. I'm enjoying the image of you gathering, displaying, cutting, and eating your homegrown lemons. That's a beautiful way to begin each day.

@Jill- I completely understand about sweet "weakness." I'm with you on that one. You've come up with a great solution for sweets management by building in a big pause before you ingest. Brilliant.

February 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I usually add a new habit to one that's already in place (and working!). But, even then, it does take some intentional practice to get it to stick. And, I often remind myself about how happy I'll be in the end ... when I've successfully included the new habit in my daily routine.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Lee

@Deb- That's a great technique for attaching one new habit with another good habit. The intentional piece is about the "awareness" that I mentioned. That helps us to take action. I also like how you future think about the "how happy" you'll be when the habit sticks. Nice!

February 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love the thought of awareness as the first step. It's in acknowledging that something needs to change that we are ready. Once ready, we are on the way to change.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- We have to start somewhere, right? And recognizing that we WANT a change (small or large) is where it begins. And as you said, once "ready" with that mind shift, "we are on the way..."

February 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I often find myself working on weekends unless I have other plans. To make sure I get needed downtime, if I don't have plans with someone else, I'm trying to plan my own leisure activities. This Sunday I intend to work on my photography - going out on a photo shoot if the weather permits, or pursuing some other photography-related activity indoors if it doesn't.

February 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- I know exactly what you mean. Especially as solopreneurs, we COULD work 24/7 if we don't manage our time. There's always something that we could be doing in/for our businesses. I love how you are so intentional about your weekends by making plans with others or yourself to do a fun activity. Nice touch that you try to focus on outdoor activities. I miss be outside. In the winter, I tend to be indoors more...not getting as much sun or exercise.

February 4, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I, too, am trying to cut back on sweets and not bringing them home is the first step! I am still working on that. :-) It's all too temping to pick up those cookies or cupcakes as you walk down the aisles of the supermarket. You've inspired me to make that change now!

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Buckwalter

I love the idea of replacing a new habit with an old one, like Seana suggested so your'e not left with a void. Swapping out with a new positive change in its place is more likely to stick. A new call to action may be better than leaving that old routine time segment unassigned.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Borg

For me, my goal is to read more industry books. I don't read books often enough but would love too. So instead of actually taking the book around with me. I purchased it on my Nook or Kindle. Recently, I signed up for Audible and am listening to the industry books while walking on the treadmill. I am on my second book so far this year. Big difference from only reading one or two books the entire year. :)

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I was pondering your question and come up with not eating while watching TV! If I had to turn off the TV every time I wanted to consume food, I would lose 10 pounds faster than you could say "double stuffed oreo cookie." Thanks for a great post and reminding me that sometimes it is the small changes that make the biggest difference.

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

Wonderful to have you join the conversation!

@Sarah- Let me know how it works out. I still am tempted, but am trying to change my ways.

@Nancy- Oh, yes! Introducing a new, positive habit can really make a difference. There can then be a domino effect that the new habit has on other habits, so you get an even bigger benefit.

@Sabrina- Congratulations for figuring out how to use tech to your advantage. Several of my colleagues recently mentioned to me that they use Audible and their car/travel time to listen to books.

@Jaime- Oooo. That's a good one! I think there have been many studies on exactly that...and how much better it is to NOT eat while watching TV. I'm guessing that we ingest more because we aren't paying attention. If I do eat in front of the TV, I try to bring in a small portion of something (like a few pretzels or bunch of grapes) rather than entire bowl or bag of something. That helps too.

February 7, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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