Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do you have trouble making healthy habits stick?

We all have something that we would like to do better or more regularly.  Sometimes it is a simple as being able to walk out the door easily in the morning and be on time for work, for others they want to create healthy habits such as exercising, taking vitamins regularly or drinking plenty of water.  Our habits are also linked to our goals and the things that we want to accomplish.  Positive habits help us continually move closer to the things that we want.  What habits would you like to start or modify?

What do you want to change?  Once you have identified the behavior that you want to change or begin take a look at the things that you are already doing.  Is there a habit that you already have that you can pair with the new habit?  For example, if you want to remember to take vitamins every evening or morning, add them to a routine that you are currently doing such as brushing your teeth.

What isn’t working?  Have you tried to begin a habit and failed to make it stick?  Most of us have at one time or another.  Habits are hard to start and even harder to quit if it is a bad habit.  Take a look at what did not work.  Do you simply forget to do the task?  Did you not have what you needed or did you simply not want to do it?  Is the task not convenient?  Habits are much easier to maintain when they are simple and easy to do.  Create routines around your preferences rather than someone else’s recommendation.   

How can you change the current behavior to make it work for you?  Take a look at the time, location and your energy level.  Are you trying to make a morning habit that takes too long before work or you simply aren’t a morning person?  Try different times of day or week and see if the timing makes a difference.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  Just because the first few attempts did not work out does not mean that you should give up.  If the habit or task is worthwhile, then it is worth continuing.  You may need to modify your goal or give yourself permission to be less than perfect.

Bring in a professional.  Sometimes the most efficient solution is to bring in outside help.  A professional organizer can see the problems from many different angles at once without the emotional filter that you have.  They can also ask you questions that you most likely have not thought of yet and help you set up a system that will work for you and your habits rather than against them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is your closet a black hole?

Closets are a funny entity in our houses.  Even if the entire house is perfectly clean there is probably a closet that is stuffed to the gills in there somewhere.  The closet door allows us to shove things in and forget about them.  Clothes closets seem to be especially difficult because there are things from different seasons and different events.  We become attached tour clothes because they remind us of a particular time in our life or size.  They become a part of our identity and almost identify who we are.  But when the closet is overflowing it becomes a source of anxiety and dread.  Nothing else can go it, you can’t find anything.  All of the clothes that you haven’t worn or can’t wear taunt you each time you open the door.  So what are you to do?

Take stock of your closet!  Ask yourself, “What really belongs here?”  Is it a clothes closet, pantry, cleaning closet or something altogether different?  Often when I work with a client on their closet the first thing that I notice is that there are many things that don’t belong in a particular closet.  At some point they did not want to make a decision about something so they just tossed the item in to get it out of the way.  Determine what purpose the closet has much the same way you would for any space.

How much Real Estate do you want your clothes to take up? Or any item that is in the closet.  Many years ago, I moved in with my grandmother who was in her 80s.  I took over the basement as an apartment and as you can imagine there were no closets.  I purchased a couple of free standing clothes racks to use.  As I headed out to buy them my grandmother asked me why I would needed 2 of them.  I laughed to myself and thought, “wow this is from the woman who has every closet in the house filled to the gills with clothes?”  I couldn’t have used any of them if I wanted to.  Clothes have a way of multiplying.  We like to buy them every season but rarely discard as much.  After over 40 years in the house my grandmother had amassed a ton of clothes.  When she passed away, my best friend and I took 18 bags of clothing and handbags to Goodwill and several bags of shoes to Soles for Souls, not to mention the untold bags of clothes I got rid of while she was still alive.  So how much do you want to use for clothes?

De-Clutter anything that is the wrong size, style, worn out or torn.  Begin clearing out the closet by getting rid of the obvious.  If you are never going to wear it again for any reason, get it out of there and donate or trash them.  If you are having a difficult time letting go, ask yourself why.  Did it belong to someone else or remind you of a time or place?  Is there a better way to remember person or event besides an item that clogs your closet?  If you still want to keep the item, consider placing it somewhere else like a memory box and make sure that it won’t get ruined over time.

Organize by the way you think about getting ready.  As you put everything back prioritize the space according to how you will use your clothing and how you get ready in the morning.  For example, I am a jeans girl.  You will rarely see me in anything else.  I like to put jeans in a lower drawer because there is no decision making for me there.  I just grab and go.  I put shirts higher because I like to look through them a bit to decide what I want to wear.  The more that you use something the easier it should be to reach.