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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 Seriously Funny Tricks to Quickly Get You Motivated

Motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Consider the idea that we have an internal motivation meter that influences our behavior. When your motivation is high on this scale, you’re able to activate and accomplish without much struggle. You might even feel in a state of flow as you get things done like organizing a room or starting a new venture. On the opposite side of the motivation spectrum, when your motivation is low or non-existent, you feel sluggish and like you’re pushing a wet noodle. You might feel stuck, overwhelmed, and exhausted, making it almost impossible to activate. Those are just two ends of the spectrum. There are many points in between that are less extreme.

Let’s assume that even the most motivated among us encounter times when we’ve lost our drive. I’ve been there. This can happen for many reasons, such as being in a transition, grieving, experiencing a health challenge, lacking confidence, or being sleep deprived. At these moments, becoming motivated isn’t hopeless; it just means we might need some help.

While there are numerous ideas for activating when your motivation is low, today, I’m focusing on three concepts that are great to use when you’re having motivation challenges around getting organized. Naturally, these can be applied to other situations too.


1. Porch of Indecision

On a recent trip to Orlando, I came across this humorous “Porch of Indecision” sign. Is this porch familiar? You might feel stuck because you have a choice to make and aren’t sure what to do next. Perhaps you don't know which questions to ask. Maybe you’re going in circles because you have too many options. And guess what? Any of these can create havoc with your motivation. When indecision takes over, motivation can evaporate.

If you find yourself on the porch of indecision, there are a few things you can do. First, take a deep breath. Now take a few more. This will calm your nervous system, reduce stress, and help you think more clearly. Next, refine your choices to two or three. If you’re still having trouble moving forward, enlist help from a family, friend, or professional organizer to discuss your options out loud. Having someone listen and support your decision-making can give you enough clarity and motivation to activate.


2. “What is this?” Box

During a clutter workshop that I led, one of the participants shared this idea. She explained that in their home they have a designated “What is this?” box. Each time someone finds an unidentified small piece or part of something, they put that item in the box. The components remain there until someone retrieves a “missing piece” or enough time has passed that they’re willing to let go of the part. 

What I love about this concept is that instead of spending too much mental energy on these unidentified parts, they have a landing spot, a boundary, and an expiration date.

When our motivation is low, our mental energy is also compromised. What if you created a “box” or landing spot for those organizing projects and goals that you have? Add tiny to-dos and organizing ideas to your "list"  as you think of them. Writing them down and keeping them in a specific place will clear your mind and increase your energy. Retrieve one small item at a time. Decide if you’re ready to act on or let go of that project. Breaking things down into small tasks will reduce overwhelm, increase focus, and motivation.


3. CFI (Can’t Find It)

Have you heard of CFI, which stands for Can’t Find It? A familiar scenario is that you are about to do the next thing, and you can’t find your keys, glasses, cell phone, or _______. Instead of doing the next thing, you are engaged in a major hunt for the item you can’t find. You are aggravated. You look in all the familiar and unfamiliar places. You get other people to help you search. Time passes, and eventually, you find what you were looking for. But it leaves you feeling frustrated, stressed, and annoyed with yourself. It’s easy to go down that rabbit hole of negative self-talk. It can affect your motivation and desire to change.

Instead, let the CFI experience be an opportunity to boost your motivation. Make a mindful note about the thing or things that often get lost. Develop a plan to organize a new pattern or alter a habit, so fewer things get misplaced. It’s useful to give belongings a designated home. For example, place your car keys in the same bowl, hook, or handbag compartment every time you put them down. Before you know it, your CFI will become CAFI (Can Always Find It).

Do you have a favorite motivation technique? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation!




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Reader Comments (16)

My best motivational technique is to promise myself a treat once I do whatever it is I don't want to do, e.g. once I connect with tech support about the thing that's not working, I can go play with my photography.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Ahhhh. The "treat" motivation method is a great one. I like how you reward yourself with play. That's wonderful!

July 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love the "What is this?" box. That is such a great idea... I think I will be using that with every client from here on out:) I also love the idea of narrowing your choices to two or three. When there are too many options, it is much harder to decide. That is one thing I find I do with clients a lot. I'll say, "We have two choices... we can either do this or that." This makes the choice easier. Sometimes I motivate myself by putting an item down on my list (because I love checking boxes), other times I find talking with someone else about ideas for something that is tripping me up is helpful, if only because they offer some fresh and stimulating ideas!

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- I'm with you on the "What is this?" box. I've helped clients set up "Unidentified parts" boxes before. But I love the idea of making the box title a question. It cues the onlooker that action is required. Like you, I also recognize that adding to and then crossing something off "the list" is an effective motivator. When we cross off a to-do, we get an endorphin rush that makes us feel good. Do "x", cross it off the list, and feel good with a happy hormone ping. That's a great motivation technique.

July 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Haha Love the Porch of Indecision. I am going to share this with my Facebook group.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I don't know how funny this is, but I talk (and write) about "Mystery Piles & Action Files" (paper and time management). "Mystery Pile" is at least more light-hearted than "paper pile of indecision, missed opportunities, and shame"...LOL?

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

Great post! Motivating people to take action and declutter is one of my passions. I personally, feel deep breathing helps me stay calm when feeling overwhelmed with a clutter situation. After calming down, talking about the process, and even drawing it out helps me see the process unfold. However, I can't have anyone tell me what to do; it stops my process.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I find people lack motivation when they don't know what to do next. We talk about "what do you need to know in order to make the next decision or do the next thing?" They need more information to move forward. As soon as they have more info they are motivated to do so.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

@Kim- The "indecision" sign gave me a good laugh too.

July 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Hazel- Your "Mystery Piles & Action Files" has a nice sing-songy rhyme to it. Nice! I like how you use it to infuse some humor into the paper and time management challenges that many of our clients have.

July 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sabrina- Thanks so much. Deep breathing is helpful in so many situations, including what you described- overwhelm due to clutter. I appreciate you sharing your process of breathing, talking, and sometimes drawing. It's great that you know yourself so well- your likes and dislikes, or what works and what doesn't. Most of us don't like it when someone tells us what to do. When I work with my clients, we focus on their solutions and choices. I make some suggestions if appropriate but rely on them trusting their self-knowledge. We build from there.

July 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet S.- I agree with you that lack of motivation can relate to being unsure about next. It's what makes us stuck and can also cause ruminations. I love the question you pose and gather that it helps your clients to choose one small thing or get one additional piece of information to move them ahead.

July 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Yes, that Porch of Indecision would be a stopping point for many of my clients. They would love to hang there and get a glass of lemonade. Fortunately, when we are together, the gentle art of coaching helps them move on. Thanks for sharing!

July 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

I, too, will be sharing the 'What is this' box idea with a client today. I also love the Porch of Indecision. I really like the imagery. You're stuck on that porch until you make a decision. When my children were very young giving them 2 choices empowered them and helped to strengthen their decision making muscles. Just as we exercise our body to get stronger, exercising our ability to make decisions - make wise decisions - needs strengthening also. Learning to trust ourselves and our ability to decide takes time. Offering just 2 choices to clients who need to strengthen that muscle helps get them off the Porch of Indecision!

July 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Ellen- I love how you expanded on the "porch" analogy- with your clients desire to hang out and sip some lemonade. And then how you coach them "gently" to sip and move forward. Love that!

July 2, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Diane- I'm so happy that you found something useful here to share so immediately. That's awesome. What a gift you gave to your children by helping them build their decision-making muscles. I agree with you that practice breeds confidence, it increases the ability to distill options and to make reasonable choices.

When our daughters were growing up, one of the things we did was respond to their questions with a question. This used to infuriate our younger daughter, but we understood the value of continuing anyway. In the same way that the "two choice option" helped build muscles for your kids, the ability to search for the answer using their internal guidance worked to build confidence in our daughters' decision-making skills.

July 2, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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