Nourish Your Babies: How to unravel your tasks and DO them

Matryoshka the taskHappy Friday, and a special welcome to all our new Joumor readers!

Lately Joumor students (thank you, Nathalie!) have been tagging me on Facebook and sending me pictures of matryoshka dolls, referring to the Joumor principle: Matryoshka the task. It is REALLY FUN to receive these pictures and know they are thinking of Joumor out in the world!

Do you know what a matryoshka doll is? Yes, those Russian nesting dolls that my grandma and maybe your grandma had when we were little. And do you remember what’s on the inside of the matryoshka doll? The tiniest nested doll is a little baby. When we unravel our tasks down to the smallest pieces, we often find one of two things:

1. We haven’t stood up for ourselves to ourselves or to someone else.

2. We need information.

These two options are thebaby” that we need to “nourish” by standing for ourselves and/or getting the information we need.

Try it. Take any task and go for the smaller thing you need to do before you do that thing:

1. Call John

a. Find John’s number

i.  Ask Marie if she has John’s card

x.  Find Marie’s number!

It’s not pretty, but c’mon, you know it can be like this! At the root of the procrastination or stuckness of any task, there is usually a malnourished matryoshka “baby.” The good news is we just have to take action to nourish it.

For example, I wanted to send this email out a long time ago and include the information about the newest upcoming Joumor Institute class, Productivity for YOUR Brain-Intensified. I made the changes on the website, set up the class in Infusionsoft, the marketing software I use, and when I made sure everything was set, it wasn’t! I tried to fix it a few times, couldn’t find the answer, and then I got really tired. Has that ever happened to you? You try and you try and next thing you know you are napping…and when you wake up the task still isn’t done.

Rubbing the sleep marks from my face, I realized it was time to Matryoshka the Task of finishing this newsletter. I unraveled the steps and realized I couldn’t solve it on my own and needed to ask for help from my tech guy. Now here’s the crazy and totally textbook part: When I realized I needed to ask for help, I hesitated, worried he wouldn’t be available to help me. Yes, it can be that twisted, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes we don’t even ask for what we need because we are scared we won’t get it. We give up before anyone has a chance to help us make our dreams come true. In this case, my matryoshka “babies” were “twins:” I needed tech information/support, and then I had to stand for myself to get the information even when I had doubt and didn’t want to ask.

I teach productivity and organization because I get it. It is my lifelong struggle and I find it fascinating. I teach it because it’s fun and funny and deep to get to the root of ourselves and make a different choice that feels good instead of scary. And it feels dang good to do what we need to do so we can move on and do what we want to do.

Want to join me to make some different choices and achieve a big or a small goal? Check out the upcoming Productivity for YOUR Brain Intesified, starting June 21st, available by video so no excuses to all my west coast and European readers! We’d love to have you. And you’ll nourish your babies to great success.

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The Grief of Letting Go

unnamedIn our final class of last month’s Productivity for YOUR Brain, students rated themselves on accomplishing their goals. One student rated herself a 5/5 but was close to crying.

“I finished my goal the day after the first class. And I’ve done so much since then in the last month. But I feel terrible. Sad. Empty. Why? What’s wrong with me?” She had stumbled onto the Joumor Principle, The Grief of Letting Go, and was feeling the effects.

As we have often discussed, organizing, or reorganizing, or decluttering is NOT about getting rid of stuff. It’s certainly true that less can be more, but the way in to more is not necessarily through less (at the beginning). It’s throughdealing with yourself.

Eek! What does it mean to deal with yourself? And how long does that take? And will it help me clear up these piles of paper?

Answer: By dealing with these piles of paper, you will deal with yourself, and that will take as long as it takes. It sounds vague, but it’s not.

We have a notion of who we are, and we become habituated to being that way. The body, the clothes, the friends, the activities, the stuff, the lateness…it’s all a compendium of choices and habits. Our comfort zone is a reflection of our nervous system. The good news is that our brains and bodies have plasticity- we can change, we can create new habits. In order to do so, though, we have to be willing change our perception of who we are, which does not always come easily.


The beauty of “self-sabotage”

People talk about self-sabotage like it’s a bad thing. Sure, on the surface, self-sabotaging choices keep us from growing and expanding and changing, which might be terrific if we could do it…So why do we self-sabotage? Our subconscious trying to keep us safe. Isn’t it nice to know someone’s looking out for you? Your subconscious does not want you in a situation that it perceives your delicate nervous system cannot handle. So it puts its arm around you and holds you back from danger. Have compassion for your evolutionary genius- we are wired to protect ourselves.


Self-sabotage and Joumor

Many clients have decreased or ceased anxiety and depression and pain medications after working together over time. How can this be? The Joumor methodology bypasses anxiety and procrastination-producing behaviors. It calms people. It makes them feel safe and able to expand into their greater desires and expectations of themselves. They feel confident and clear, so the self-sabotage does not need to rise up to protect them.


The Grief of Letting Go

This funny thing happens. We have been stuck in our clutter for weeks or months or who knows how long, and suddenly we don’t have it anymore. We handled it clearly and easily. It is gone. So when our brain looks for the thorn of the forever uncompleted task, it doesn’t find it, because we accomplished it. And our perception of ourselves can collapse in that moment. If we have no reason to feel ashamed, who are we? If we are someone who accomplished things and moves on, who are we? If our self-loathing will not keep us grounded, what will?

When we encounter our ultimate freedom, the philosophers Martin Heidegger called it anguish, and Jean Paul Sartre called it vertigo. We have shackled ourselves with our behaviors, and when these shackles are removed, we are terrified. There is grief here. The grief of admitting our self-shackling, and the grief of releasing our very perception of who we knew ourselves to be. It takes longer to release your self-perception than to file that stack of papers. Just try it. And if it’s disturbing, know this: you are normal. Go gently. Your freedom will expand as you do.

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How Do I Get My Husband To…

“Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you.” -Mike Murdock

Thank you! Newsletter reader Ileane sent in this great question: “How do I get my husband to clean up his parents’ memorabilia that’s laying in boxes in our downstairs useable area?”

Many clients and students ask how they can “get” their spouse or children or boss or partner…or even themselves to “do” something. There are 2 seemingly obvious answers that I have heard or read other organizing and management experts say:

1. Speak your need/desire clearly and make it known that this must happen.

2. Do it yourself.

Both answers can work, but they are not the most Joumorous option. Years ago I offered Clutter Counseling for Couples (because I love alliteration 😉 I didn’t start out with this service, but over time I offered it because so much of what I was doing was dealing with couples and their frustration over STUFF. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know that there are 7 levels to Joumor– STUFF is the most basic and Relationships is the highest. However, basic things are also often foundational, and when a couple fights (or, even worse, doesn’t discuss it at all) about foundational or everyday things, the ramifications can reach all parts of their relationship. Couples with clutter reported:

  • Lack of generosity/warmth
  • Inclination to spend less time at home
  • No sex or low quality sex
  • Sleeping in separate rooms
  • Fighting that never got resolved
  • Resentment
  • Aggressive behavior such as throwing their spouse’s stuff out or breaking it
  • Complaining to others or their children about the spouse in front of them or behind their spouses’ backs

Here’s the thing. You can’t “get” someone to do something, even yourself. You can try to force it, but outside of violence, forcing usually doesn’t work. And even if they do clean up those boxes of memorabilia, before you know it, there’s something else bothering you…so instead of “getting” him/her to do something, how about inspiration instead?

In Joumor, “It’s the thing itself and something else.” People can feel angry about their spouse’s pile of boxes and it can be pointing to feeling disrespected, blocked, and even disgusted in the relationship. It’s not a guarantee, but these things often go together. In Joumor, we focus on dealing with the most literal and tangible level first.

Do not condemn the clutter in your neighbor’s eye until you have examined the plank in your own.

So what to do if you are feeling frustrated, turned off, or even angry with your spouse? (This also holds true for anyone you live with- roommates, children, and parents as well). Focus on yourself. We often translate our frustration at ourselves onto others. You may not have old boxes of memorabilia scattered around the floor…but did you book that flight you’ve been putting off? Did you pay your taxes? Did you submit the information for that refund?

As we shift our focus onto closing our own energy drains such as the above examples, we start to notice a few things:

  1. We feel better.
  2. Those things that kept bothering us are complete and we have peace, or even a void, where they once nagged at us.
  3. People around us *may* respond differently to our desires, even without our asking.

Clutter attracts clutter and the opposite is true. If you are a cluttery mess, don’t be surprised that the people around you are, too. And don’t blame them for it. Examine your own clutter before even thinking of asking others to change. Once you have addressed all open energy drains, don’t be surprised when your spouse or child starts doing the things you want without you asking. And if they don’t, you’ll be a lot calmer and more compelling when you do ask.

Ideally, you are in this relationship with someone you love. Remember that. And you want them to be at their best. So seek the best in yourself first, and don’t bother discussing your expectations until you have modeled what Best looks like. In the case of relationship clutter, in many cases, less is more, and clutter-free connection is the kind of memorabilia we’d all like to keep.

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Getting in the Mood…;) VIDEO

leah-fisch-getting-in-the-mood“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” Mason Cooley

Sometimes we’re in the mood to do things, and it’s easy- we absorb ourselves in our passion and can work for days or months and it never feels like work. We have energy, we laugh easily, we feel generous…but what about the rest of the time, when the muse is not there for us to make love to? In some cases we can continue little by little, step by step, but there are other cases where, mood or not, muse or not, we simply must “get in the mood” anyway and fulfill our responsibility. This is the terrible truth of being a grown-up: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.

What?! Do things we don’t want to do? How undignified! How terribly dry and unfair!

But guess what? When we do find our way through the boredom and paralysis, we realize that our muse was always there, she was just asphyxiated by the unpaid bills, unfinished projects and other hellish tasks. When we choose Joumor, getting to the other side of those things we’ve been avoiding…by doing them…our muses sing and fly and sometimes even dance the polka.

I hope you enjoy this little video I made for you…and I assure you I was not, cough, in the mood…but am sending it anyway. 😉

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A Passover Lesson From Dr. Seuss

A-Passover-Lesson-From-Dr-Seuss“Man is free only when he can realize and accept his limitations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Most of you reading this article are familiar with the biblical Passover story of the Jewish slaves escaping (or being released) from their Egyptian captors. Observant Jews refrain from eating leavened bread for the 8 days of Passover in remembrance of the Sabbath bread (challah) that failed to rise as they rushed out of Egypt and opt for matzah instead.

The accompanying scholarly interpretations of leaving the bread behind for a week relate to our behaviors and choices. We want to free ourselves from ego, “puffiness,” and also our limitations. Being free from limitations in relationships, speaking our truth, our perceptions- there is no end to things that potentially limit us.

Besides my Joumor students, 😉 how many of you know how Dr. Seuss came to write Green Eggs and Ham, one of the best-selling children’s books of all time? He was challenged by his publisher, Bennett Cerf, to write a book using only 50 words. Not only did Dr. Seuss win the bet AND $50, Green Eggs and Ham was his most successful book!

In Joumor we talk about Thriving Within Limitation. We’ll set a timer to work on a task or invite accountability partners to confirm and support us with deadlines. We want it to be a fun Game, and all games need rules to make them fun.

Rules are a form of limitation. Some rules are created by others, some by ourselves, and some just some to be. As sunset draws near on this first night of Passover, I am reminded of the possibility of limitation. Yes, let us shed those that do not serve us, but also take on ones that do, like going to bed when we need to, and not eating foods that harm us. The more we can expand into the marvelous limitations that we have intentionally created for ourselves in order to thrive, the more likely it is that we will win in freedom and unlimited possibility.

On this Earth Day and first night of Passover, let’s ask ourselves: What limitation would serve me to create infinite success? And then, leaving behind the unwanted limitations of others, choose our freedom and our future.

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Stuck In an Elevator: Joumor Time Management Lessons

firetruckYesterday I had 2 appointments after a full workday. Following my own Joumor rules, I scheduled what felt like an absurd amount of time between them, which gave me 1.5 hours to get from 14th St./5th Ave to 52nd St./8th Ave. Any New Yorker knows this can be accomplished in less than a half hour with the trusty MTA (public transportation). However, in Joumor’s Rules for Time Management, not only do we multiply the estimated travel time, we also add time to accomplish things later in the day when our brains are slower from decision fatigue (tired from making thousands of decisions throughout the day).

6.35pm: I leave my appointment, get in the elevator to go one flight down, realize the elevator isn’t moving, and the door won’t open.

6.36pm: I immediately sit on the floor, which you do to prevent dangerous impact in case the elevator free falls, and also it’s comforting.

6.37pm: I press the call button, they say a technician is on his way, and hang up.

6.38pm: I text my friends, who immediately start joking with me and making me giggle.

6.52pm: I press the call button again, they again say a technician is on his way, won’t say how long it will take, and hang up.

7.01pm: I apply lipstick and put on earrings.

7.02pm: I call 311, as suggested by the sign posted. Though I don’t want to make a big deal, they transfer me to 911, (“Ma’am, you’re stuck in an elevator. That’s an emergency”) who transfers me to the fire department.

7.12pm: Fire department arrives, cuts power, clanks about.

7.17pm: The firemen set me free.

7.48pm: I arrive 12 minutes early for my next appointment.

Throughout this process I recognized my inclination to get stressed, particularly because I had an upcoming appointment. Each time I realized I still had plenty of time to get there, I calmed down. Luckily, allotting 3 times the amount of time necessary meant I could get stuck in an elevator, get rescued, and STILL be early for my next appointment!

Joumor is about setting yourself up to win. Many of our stressed and aggressive behaviors come from not giving ourselves enough time to complete our tasks, and taking out our frustration on others. Create space and time in your schedule- if the task or appointment feels tight or stressful, remove it, or give yourself more time to get there. Be kind to yourself in your scheduling, and you will set yourself up to be kind to others, no matter what happens.

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