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How Living Clutter-free Will Make You a Better Decision Maker

How Living Clutter-free Will Make You a Better Decision Maker

With every choice comes a decision, and from the moment you wake up to when your head hits the pillow each night, you are faced with endless choices.

When life is stressful, plates are overflowing, and your brain, living space and work space are cluttered, making a decision (even a simple one) can seem overwhelming. So what do you do? You make the decision not to make a decision.

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Things you say to avoid making a decision.

  • “I’ll look at it again tomorrow.” Putting off your decision is a choice you make that will impact your happiness on a daily basis. When you don’t take action, you direct your attention to the what ifs instead of moving forward. “What ifs” are a waste of time and you don’t have time to waste.
  • “Let’s wait and see.” Usually, ‘wait and see’ means ‘no thank you’ or ‘never gonna happen,’ but because you want to make everyone happy, you avoid the conversation. Be kind to yourself and others by being honest about your decision in a timely matter.
  • “You decide.” When you say this, you decide to give your decision away. This almost always is a result of people pleasing or option paralysis. Even with small decisions like where to meet for lunch or what color to paint the kitchen, giving your decision away can make you feel less connected and engaged.

If you’ve ever said any of those things, it’s time to clear the clutter for better decision-making. When you simplify your life and eliminate the things that aren’t actively adding value, you make time and space to make better decisions more quickly. If you’ve ever sat with a decision for very long, you know how painful indecision can be.

Three ways living clutter-free will make you a better decision maker

1. Know what you want. When your thoughts are ping-ponging from thing to thing and you are preoccupied with stuff that doesn’t really matter, you don’t have the mental clarity to identify what you want most. That goes for what you want most for lunch, for the moment and in your life. By removing the clutter, you give the most important things a chance to rise to the surface.

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Instead of organizing your stuff, shuffling papers, or cleaning your desk as a means of clearing your head before you make a decision, keep less. Life is distracting enough without adding drawers of stuff, piles of paper, and boxes stored in your closet.

2. Trust your gut. A pro/con list never hurts, but when you get too analytical, you can find reasons to support any decision. Analyze, but not to the point that you dismiss what your gut and heart know to be the best choice. Learning to trust your gut comes with practice and attention.

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Losing the clutter frees up time for you to give your gut the attention it deserves. If you don’t take the time to listen to what you know to be true, even before you know why, you are cheating yourself.

3. Embrace uncertainty. When you have less to lose, uncertainty is easier to grasp. Mitigate risk by trimming the fat (clutter) in your life and business so you can make decisions and know that things will be ok even if they don’t go as planned.

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There is more than physical clutter that gets in the way of making decisions. Things like anxiety (fear), hesitation (fear), worrying about what people will think (fear), and fear of making a bad a decision (fear) get in the way too, but once the clutter is gone, you will have the mental clarity to see your indecision for what it is.

Clear the clutter and admit that not making a decision is one of the worst decisions you can make. Those two actions will make you more confident in your decision-making and happier with the choices you make.

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Courtney Carver

Courtney Carver is a speaker, author, productivity expert and founder of Be More with Less.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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