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If it stops working, change it up!

17 June 2011

Organization systems, as well as habits and routines, are usually set up with current circumstances in mind. When circumstances change, the systems or routines might fall apart. In other words, life takes zigs and zags and if systems keep going straight, they’re not going to work.

I tell this to my clients all the time. I recently had an experience that reminded me how true it is.

I had an exercise routine that was pretty steady. I’d exercise using Wii Fit in the evenings, after I was finished with work. But I’m been very busy lately and my work days seem to be getting longer and longer. When I’d finally finish working, I just didn’t feel like exercising. What I felt like was a drinking a glass of wine or eating dinner.

So exercise fell by the wayside and that started stressing me out. Not because I live to exercise (I certainly don’t) but because I felt sort of slovenly and I’d put on a couple of pounds.

I started considering joining a gym, but had a hard time imagining that I’d find time to go out to exercise when I couldn’t do it at home.

Then I paused to think about it and I realized that I’ve been most successful in creating morning routines. So I decided to try getting up earlier and doing my Wii Fit before coffee.

Guess what? It’s really working for me! The big side benefit I didn’t anticipate is that if I exercise in the morning, I don’t worry about it the rest of the day. For several years now, I’d think throughout the day, “Oh, I gotta exercise.” Now, that nagging thought is gone. Let’s hear it for getting rid of nagging thoughts!

What really surprised me is that I’m actually excited about exercising again. On Thursday morning, I woke up 15 minutes late and had to be out of the house by 8 a.m. But I just couldn’t skip the exercise. Instead, I did it for a shorter period of time. But I did it. Amazing.

So the lesson here for me is that when things stop working, I need to change them up. When I take the time to think about the successful habits and routines I’ve managed to establish, I get clues and ideas about new ways to get them back on track.

If you have something you’d like to improve (be it an organizational system or a habit or routine), try thinking about what you’re doing well and see whether that can be applied to this situation.

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