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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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Practical Help That Will Change Your Worst Habits For the Better

When it comes to habits, we have some keepers, our good practices, and those less desirable or bad ones we’d like to see gone. Maintaining good ones and altering bad ones can be challenging. However, with some help and understanding about the science of habit formation and habit loops, it’s possible to make the changes you want.  When I think about my positive habits, they include meditating daily, walking in nature, and staying organized. Some of my less desirable habits are not getting enough exercise, eating too many sweets, and not planning meals. Can you relate to any of these?

There are two authors I’ve featured on the blog who wrote insightful and inspiring books about habit change. To learn more, click on the links below:



If you need help letting go of your bad habits, begin here. The folks at Quill just released an easy-to-understand infographic How to Reframe Bad Habits to Boost Your Productivity (see below) based on Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of HabitThe graphic concisely explains habit formation, habit change, and the three habit loop components- cue, routine, and reward. It also highlights the most common habits that can negatively affect your productivity and what to do about them. 



As Charles Duhigg says,

“Transforming a habit isn’t necessarily easy or quick. It isn’t always simple. But it is possible. And now we understand how.”

Have you had success or challenges with habit change? Have you ever enlisted help to change a habit? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I invite you to join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (20)

I love talking about habits, and both of these books are terrific sources. What a wonderful infographic! I've put together similar images of my own for presentations, but this is great having it all in one place. Definitely worth a pin!! I've always been struck by how hard it is to start a new habit in the middle of an existing routine. I once heard it suggested that if you want to make a change, try getting started when you are already out of your normal routine, e.g. on a vacation or business trip. This has stuck with me and I've found it does work because when I am away, I am already having to do things differently!

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I love the infographic! And the expression: habit loop. I have long thought about habits, particularly tasks, in terms of a circle. Thinking about a habit loop makes good sense to me. Also, having the questions to ask yourself to prompt a different behavior is very helpful. Thank you for this terrific information!

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Seana- So much of the organizing work we do with our clients is around habit change. Even in the basic way we "disrupt" how or where things have been stored is part of changing patterns. Letting go is also a habit change that we work on regularly. Shifts in perspectives too. What a great reminder you shared about beginning a new habit while out of your normal environment! I've also noticed how when I'm away, some of my good, ingrained habits tend to go by the wayside. It's like I give them a bit a freedom from the discipline. Evenso, I like how you pointed out that the disruption in location is an opportunity for change. Great stuff!

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Diane- I'm so glad you found this info useful. If you like the infographic and habit loop concept, I know you'll enjoy doing a deeper dive into Duhigg's and Clear's books. You know how it goes with good questions. They are the source of all change. When we're able to ask ones that prompt a new response or thought pattern, then the possibilities for doing or thinking about something differently emerges.

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I started off thinking about my good habits: walking daily, staying organized, using a to do list consistently, daily brushing and flossing, etc. and was feeling pretty good about myself, then I saw the infographic and two things hit me right between the eyes: checking email more frequently than I should, and doing the easy tasks first. My rationale for the latter is that it warms up my brain before I tackle the hard ones but I don't know if that's just an excuse. Food for thought...

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Kudos to you for all of your positive habits! That's a great list of and definitely one to feel good about. I'm guilty also of checking email too frequently. I don't always respond when I'm checking, but I check to make sure nothing urgent is happening. I'm sure I could do it less. Something to think about. In terms of the doing the easy tasks first thing, I understand that one too. Like you, I also do a few easy ones to get my head in gear. I referred again to the infographic and what it stresses is not so much about doing the harder tasks first, but doing them "earlier in the day." That assumes one's energy and attention is freshest and most alert then. So I'm guessing that it makes sense to time the heavy-duty tasks with your optimal energy periods. And if doing a few easy ones first, primes the pump, then it sounds like you're doing what makes most sense.

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I'm a fan of both of these books: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Atomic Habits by James Clear.

I also find that reframing your negative thoughts to positive ones is an essential first step to help with habit changing. I recently revisited a book from the 80s called "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay and she talks a lot about creating affirmations and positive goal visualization. It's a very motivating book.

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Sabrina- Those negative thought prevent us from imagining, taking action, and changing. So anything we can do to reframe them to positive ones is good. Hay's book sounds very good. It's fun to revisit a book that we enjoyed. I often see new things on a second read. It sounds like you are getting a lot of motivational wisdom from it, especially this time around.

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I guess the other drawback of doing the easy tasks first, is that you may find you don't have enough time to make good headway on the big ones. I'm usually on my computer shortly after I get up, so I use that time to review emails and knock off any quick tasks that I can. After I've had my walk, breakfast, and shower, I buckle down to the "big job" for the day. So maybe I don't need to worry about that - just stop checking email multiple times a day!

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- I hear your point. But like everything, I think we're talking about moderation. I often use my buzzer to give me "x" amount of time to do the quick tasks. When the timer goes off, I either allow some additional time, or use it as the signal to switch gears for the bigger project. It sounds like you have a good working rhythm. It will be an interesting experiment to see what happens if you alter your email checking patterns. I'd love to hear what you discover when the times comes and if you feel like sharing.

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great information. It's hard for me to change habits and I really struggle with helping clients change their habits. Moving slowly, in small increments seems to work best.

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Schiesl

@Janet S.- I'm so glad that you found this useful. I understand about how challenging it can be to change habits, but it sounds like you have a method that works- slow and steady. I loved reading both of the books about habit change and formation because it gave me some good ideas about how to make the process potentially easier. One of the things I learned is that there are certain habits called, "keystone habits." They are positive habits that are so strong that they encourage us to almost effortlessly to adopt other good habits. For example, if one focuses on becoming more health conscious in terms of the foods they are eating, a natural habit or other outcome might be starting to do more exercise, or getting into a better sleep routine.

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great inforgraphic and tips! I have read "Atomic Habits," but I haven't read "The Power of Habit" yet. I am adding it to my reading list now!

August 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Haworth

@Nancy- I'm so happy that you like the infographic and tips. I loved "Atomic Habits!" I'm sure you will get a lot from reading "The Power of Habit" too. Enjoy!

August 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I've read Duhigg's book (and Clear's follow-up), so I love how the infographic provides a bit of a cheat sheet for keeping these concepts front and center. As I'm much better at instituting new habits than breaking/modifying old ones, I think it's time to get back to focusing on identifying those cues and rewards!

August 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Bestry

@Julie- Not so bad to have a "cheat sheet" when it comes to habit formation and change. Your experience mirrors the scientific research, which says that it's easier to establish new habits than modify old ones. However, the key to change is in the cue, routine, and reward. So if we can make a small adjustment to that habit loop, we have a better chance of altering the not-so-favorable habits.

August 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Multi-tasking! So true, that people think multi-tasking saves them time but it actually makes them less productive. And being a perfectionist. That's the one I struggle with. I have lots of articles for my business website that I haven't hit "publish" on yet because I keep tweaking them. Thanks for the thought-provoking infographic!

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Jones

@Carol- Thank you for sharing two of the habits that are challenging for you. I know that many of my readers can relate to them. It's a funny thing about mulit-tasking. It became a buzz word and a call to action for so many of us. And now trends are going in a different direction, along with scientific research that suggests we aren't wired to truly multi-task. A while ago I wrote a post about "continuous partial attention." It's what we actually do; we quickly shift our focus from thing to thing. It feels like multi-tasking, but it's in fact attention disruption. It's that disruption that impinges our productivity and calm.

As far as your articles waiting to be published, kudos to you for having so many in the wings. I totally understand the desire for getting them just right before they publish. I offer you two things that might be useful. I've discovered that often the posts I "noodle less" are the ones that get the most attention and interaction. In addition, even after a post has gone "live" I will edit and amend as needed. And lastly, you are a terrific writer. I'm guessing that even the posts that you think aren't as ready as you think are still really great.

August 7, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks Linda, that means a lot coming from you! ! You're right, we are all our own harshest critics. I will check out your post on continuous partial attention!

August 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Jones

@Carol- You're most welcome. I get it about being harshest on ourselves with criticism. I can be that way too. To make it easy for you to find, here's the link to the post about contiuous partial attention:

August 8, 2019 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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