Posts Tagged ‘clutter’

2013 Goals – It’s all in the language

January 14, 2013

Popular targets people set for themselves are around what they want less of in the year ahead …

iStock_000017644187XSmall

  • I want to eat less chocolate
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to be less stressed
  • I want less clutter
  • I want to work less evenings during the week

Have you ever found yourself phrasing your goals in terms of what you are trying to avoid, reduce or give up?

What we say to ourselves about the changes we want to make is crucial in achieving those changes.

When I was doing my coaching training, one thing I learned stuck in my mind … apparently the brain doesn’t process negative language the way we intend it to.

So for  “I want to eat less chocolate”, the brain doesn’t interpret that you want to reduce your chocolate intake, rather it focuses on “I want to eat ___ chocolate”.

Thinking about how I used to set goals it makes sense that this was happening with me on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. Whenever I thought about my goals I found myself reminded about what I was trying to avoid!

So focus on what you want, rather than on what you’re aiming to avoid – even if you start from the latter point, you can always re-word your goals to something more positive and achievable.

For example:

  • I want to eat fruit (or other healthier) snacks between meals
  • I want to be ___ kg (or stone/pounds!)
  • I want to have strategies I can use for stressful situations
  • I want to create a tidy home/work space
  • I want to have 3 evenings a week to spend with family/friends/chilling out

How have you worded your goals this year?

Love What You Do #1: Get Clarity

February 6, 2012

To celebrate International Coaching Week I’ve put together a series of tips to help maximise what you do at work. This Love What You Do series starts today with Tip 1: Get Clarity!

[NB I write this series of tips in the context of the workplace, but you could apply most, if not all, the ideas to other areas of your life.]

One of the key factors in enjoying any job I’ve done is being really clear about my role. If I don’t have that clarity, it impacts on my motivation levels and my ability to apply myself successfully to the job at hand.

Key questions

  • So, how clear are you about the expectations of your line manager/colleagues?
  • How clear are you about your job description, and how this affects your day-to-day routine?
  • How do you know when you’ve achieved your targets? Have success criteria been set? What feedback do you get, or do you just know it inside?
  • What about when changes are brought in – are you given (or do you seek out) the clarity you need on how these changes impact on you (day-to-day as well as longer-term)?
  • What are all the different ways you could get clarity about your role?

Use these questions as a starting point to work on getting that clarity now to make 2012 your most successful yet!

(Photo credit: Jeroen van Oostrom)

De-cluttering Part 2: Mental clutter and tipping points

April 24, 2011

In De-cluttering Part 1 I explored the idea that physical clutter is different for each individual. We all have tipping points beyond which our ‘stuff’ becomes clutter and we feel the need to do something about it.

In Part 2 I turn my attention to the other dictionary definition: clutter = a state or condition of confusion. In other words, our mental clutter. Extending the idea of tipping points from Part 1:

What might the tipping points be that take us from clarity to confusion?

Here are some scenarios to explore this further …

1. Having too many choices


Sometimes with blog posts I start with a few ideas on a topic and I have a clear thought-train. Then, as I begin to write, I add other ideas and things can escalate until the clarity turns into fog! So at some stage, the tipping point came with one idea too many, or allowing myself to stray from my original path. The solution then was for me to strip away some of the less relevant ideas, or choose one aspect to write about, and save the rest for another post!

2. Not saying “no”


I’ve worked with several clients who talk about too much to do and no time for themselves. As we explore why this is happening, it becomes apparent they find it hard to say ‘no’ to requests/demands from others.

Thinking about everything you’ve agreed to, and trying to juggle the additional stuff with your regular things, is bound to lead to mental clutter. So recognising the tipping point between what we can manage realistically and what just becomes unwieldy is important. Learning to say “no” is useful to avoid additional clutter or confusion. Check out some tips to help with this here.

3. Negative thinking

Do you find yourself thinking, “I can’t do ____”, “I’m no good at ____” or “I’ll never be able to ____”?

These limiting beliefs about yourself can overpower your more positive, constructive thoughts. They clog up your moments of clearer thinking.

I would suggest that the tipping point here is when you find yourself opting for the negative belief rather than an alternative. Finding alternative beliefs is key here. Ask yourself what would be a more useful belief to have. For example: “I’m no good at expressing my opinion in meetings” can become “I can express my opinion with confidence and clarity”. Even if you don’t feel you do this at the moment, following the belief up with a good plan to achieve it will get you there!

What form does your mental clutter take, and how can you avoid it?


(Photo credits: Too many choices ; Say no! )

Feeling the urge to ‘Spring Clean’ this month?

September 5, 2010

Photo: Suat Eman

Not quite the right time of year – I hear you say?

Nevertheless, September is one of the 4 main times over a year where we have urges to make a fresh start, de-clutter, spring clean, etc. The others are:

  • New Year
  • April
  • Our birthday

Some believe this is perhaps to do with seasonal changes or conditioning as children around birthdays / school holidays. If, like me, your birthday also falls at one of the other times, you may feel an even bigger pull towards making a new start at that time of year.

Linked to ‘clearing out’ is the need to free up time / space, or replace the old with the new. This can be new systems, not just new possessions. While we’re feeling like a change, this is a good time to set new goals or targets for ourselves.

So what goals are you setting yourself right now?

  • How are you de-cluttering? What criteria are you using?
  • What changes are you making? What impact will they have on others around you?

If you’re setting goals, to help you on your way, here are my 5 top tips to ensure a positive start.

1. Make sure your goal is about what you want, rather than what you don’t want.

For example: I want a clutter-free desk / office (rather than ‘I don’t want to work in this tip!’) You get what you focus on, so focus on something positive!

2. Make sure you understand exactly what your goal means to you.

What will ‘clutter-free’ look and feel like? What will be classed as clutter? What essentials do you still need?

3. What’s your time scale?

Rather than leave it open-ended, which – let’s face it – can result in the “I’ll do it tomorrow” state of mind ….. give yourself a deadline.

E.g. I’ll be working from a clutter-free desk in 4 weeks’ time.

Then break this down into smaller chunks….. What needs to be achieved in 2 weeks, to be on target? What do you need to do in 1 week? etc. What are you going to do to ensure the changes are consistent?

4. List the benefits

To take my example further, what will having a clutter-free desk give you? More space to work? A clearer head to think? More focus and direction? I’ll be able to find things more easily. I’ll be less annoying to be around! …..

5. Staying motivated

You may be motivated by the goal itself (a tidier desk), or by moving away from your current situation (a cluttered desk), or even a bit of both.

If the goal excites you – keep reminding yourself of the benefits of what you’re aiming for, and visualize the end result.

If your motivated more by getting rid of the mess, in this example, think about the consequences of doing nothing. What will it be like in 2 weeks if you’ve not changed anything?

If you’re motivated in both ways, you’ll probably need to use both of the above strategies.

Enjoy your “spring cleaning”, and feel free to share your goals / successes (photos also useful of before and after, if relevant!!)