Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Dieting & Exercise Are Like Organizing

So much of what we do every day is about routine, habit and what we're used to. Take eating habits or exercise, for example. I could say "tomorrow, I'm going to eat less" or "every day, I'm going to exercise (more)" but then tomorrow comes, and we end up doing the same thing, and not eating better or exercising more. Creatures of habit are we, and sometimes don't even realize how much so. I, for one, make the resolve, and then by the next afternoon, it dawns on me that, like a robot, I do what I always do, almost unconsciously.

It's as if we go into auto-pilot, and follow that easy path of the norm. It is much harder to diverge and do something different (most of us resist change!). This is similar to organizing -- we can talk all we want about what we want to do, become more organized, blah, blah, blah...but our habits win over. We are not used to doing the different behavior (whether it is diet, exercise or staying organized) so days become weeks, weeks become months, and we are still in the same place.

So what's the solution? I think if it were easy, there wouldn't be so many quick fixes advertised for losing weight or gym membership offers. What might be hard for one may be easier for another. While I don't have the answers, I do think it has something to do with 2 factors: end-of-your-rope-itis, and pleasure. Ok, here's my theory, and it is not rocket science:

  • end-of-your-rope-itis: You get to a point where you are sick and tired of the status quo, things are not working as is, so the extreme pushes your motivation to change. For instance, the clutter is getting too much and disorganization is affecting everyone in your household. Time to call in a professional!

  • pleasure: I enjoy being organized, but do not enjoy exercising. You may be the opposite. The more we like or enjoy the behavior, obviously we are more motivated to do it. Furthermore, if we see positive results, then we stick with it. We work on decluttering, find things we couldn't find, clear out space and feel less stressed -- now we are more apt to continue.

So be honest with yourself about the areas you want to change, considering the two factors mentioned above. Maybe it can give you a different perspective and get you out of auto-pilot.