book review – willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength

xwillpowerMaybe the most important thing you’ll learn in the book is this: Don’t try to make important decisions when you’re tired, hungry or feel overextended.

The authors, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, claim that we spend about a quarter of our waking hours resisting impulses of some kind. Willpower, if it exists, is consumed by all the decisions you have to make, which leaves you with less self-control as the day goes by. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Increase your willpower by developing habits so you don’t have to rely solely on your resolve.
  • Plan in advance how you’ll handle specific situations and you won’t have to consider all the possibilities, leaving you with more energy to resist cravings.
  • Work on one behavior change at a time so you aren’t overwhelmed by trying to make multiple changes.
  • Take care of basic needs like sleep, exercise and healthy food. “Powering through” when your energy is low causes you to make serious errors.

Finally, they state that giving in to temptation doesn’t replenish willpower you’ve already used. Instead, forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do will leave you with less willpower. You can tell that your willpower is spent when things that seem as though they should be easy are taking a lot of your energy to accomplish.

What do you when you’ve exhausted your mental reserves? Do you plan for how you’ll handle situations when you know you’ll be tempted to behave in a way you’d rather not?

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screen-free time

xphone screen by Viacheslav Blizniuk

photo by Viacheslav Blizniuk

Next week, May 2-8, is National Screen-Free Week The event, formerly known as TV-Free Week, was renamed to recognize that smaller screens are taking up larger amounts of our time. The goal of Screen-Free Week is not to create a feeling of deprivation, but to enjoy the world beyond the screen.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, sponsors of the event, hope that people will consider how they can spend time without making electronic entertainment the centerpiece of their lives.

Why should you turn off the screens in your life, even for a short time?

Most children spend more time in front of screens than other activities, which can lead to poor sleep patterns and attention span issues, as well as obesity. In addition, children are exposed to marketing that causes them to believe that buying things will make them happy.

If you have kids, they may think that there is nothing left to do if they can’t watch TV, play video games or engage in social media. Suggest playing board games, reading, singing, drawing, talking, thinking or daydreaming. Our kids don’t take the opportunity to sit and do nothing for a little while. Teaching them that they don’t have to fill every minute with mindless chatter is good for them. And for us.

Think you can’t put down your phone when you’re home because work emails are too important? If checking your phone interferes with time spent with your family, you might want to consider how effective a screen-free week would be for you, too.

Would you consider going screen-free? How would it feel to go without your favorite electronics for a week?

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quote: what is your enough?

Tea8One of the questions I ask people who are decluttering is “How many do you need?” Whether it’s coffee cups, T-shirts, pens, wine glasses or notepads, everyone has a different idea about what constitutes the right amount.

Determining what is just right for you may take some experimenting. If you are afraid to let go of things forever, try packing them in a box and putting a review date on your calendar. When you realize that you are comfortable with less, it’s easier to let go of the surplus.

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. – Lao Tzu

Here’s another post about “enough,” to give you more ideas.

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product review – reducing mail

xMail by Arvind Balaraman2

Photo by Arvind Balaraman

Recently I wrote about things you can do in honor of Earth Day, which is April 22.

I mentioned that you can reduce the amount of junk mail you get by contacting the Direct Mail Association and asking that your name be put on the National Do Not Mail List.

To have your name taken off more lists, visit 41 Pounds, which will contact additional direct-marketing organizations and catalog companies on your behalf. You’ll pay $35 for five years, with a portion of the profits going to environmental groups.

It won’t cost you anything to call catalog companies and request that they take your name off their lists or you can subscribe to Catalog Choice, a site that lets you search for catalogs by name and cancel those you don’t wish to receive.

To avoid getting on mailing lists to begin with, access information on the Internet instead of signing up for newsletters or calendars from your favorite restaurants, gym, alumni association, museums and other sources.

Do you dump your junk mail or do you read it?

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productivity roundup

Hands of Woman Using Laptop Computer It’s true, I’m a little obsessed with productivity. If I’m not writing about it or thinking about it, I’m reading about it. Here are some of the most popular articles about productivity that I have mentioned on twitter recently:

6 decluttering techniques to boost your productivity  by @jmbrandonbb for @Inc

7 productivity myths [infographic] from @visually

The 7-step morning ritual that will make you happy (and productive) all day  via @bakadesuyo

The Zen master’s guide to email productivity by @benjbrandall for @processstreet

Procrastinating can increase your productivity by @Carmesancheeses for @cracked

Do you have a favorite productivity tip?

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reader question – what are some easy things i can do in honor of earth day?

Do the Green Thing

photo courtesy of Do the Green Thing

April 22 is Earth Day. The easiest thing you can do to improve the environment is to do less – shop less, buy less, use less, throw away less, travel less.

While it’s easy to say those things, it may be difficult for you to achieve. Here are some ideas, from Earth Day Network, to get you started:

  • End junk mail – contact Direct Mail Association and ask for your name to be removed from mailing lists
  • Recycle paper, glass, plastic, metal and electronics
  • Compost food waste

My favorite way to avoid waste is to use what you have. Most of us have more than we need and would benefit from shopping our homes before going to the store for something new.

Do you celebrate Earth Day?

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how are your work habits?

xGraphIn the last week I’ve talked to several clients about how they use their time at work and it made me consider whether I’m making the most of my time.

April is Work Habit Awareness Month, a good reminder to take a look at the habits you’ve developed (or would like to develop) at work.

If you want to make better use of your work time, you can benefit from creating habits that encourage you to finish important tasks and spend less time on low-value work.

Take a look at how you start your day and think about changes you can make. Can you avoid opening email or social media until a specific time? Can you connect your first cup of coffee with starting an important project?

One of the best habits you can form, if you haven’t already, is to keep one notebook or tablet on your desk so you can write notes to yourself when you remember things you need to do. Instead of stopping to do them, and interrupting your high-value work, write them down so you can come back to them later.

Try completing phone calls and emails in a block of time after lunch. Or, even better, make it a habit to take a walk after lunch. You’ll come back to work with renewed energy.

Want to read more about habits? Take a look at this blog post where I discuss Gretchen Rubin’s book Better than Before.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by MarcieTM Find more organizing and productivity tips on twitter, facebook and pinterest

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