Day 8 Get ready for [awesome]
In collaborating with my sister, I decided it’s good to swap awesome for diet. The commitment here is to understand that time and energy will be required to make a change, and your time and energy was probably already at capacity. So some prioritization and elimination of less important things will be necessary. The good news is, if this is a healthy habit, it’s going to give energy back to you.
It’s probably no accident that people who are successful at long term weight loss (see NWCR.ws) watch less TV that the average American. It really helps in 3 ways: First, Watching TV is stressful. Popular shows are about murder and reality shows focus on unfairness and jerks. We have a certain taste for stress in our entertainment. Second, TV is full of commercials and commercialism (both for food, and for stuff if you’re dealing with clutter). Third, TV takes time.
Day 9 Choose an exercise program
I guess this is the part where I clarify that decluttering is like exercise, and time management is like diet, and together they form an organized lifestyle similar to a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are actually more intimately linked than at first seems clear to most people, because they intersect at the internal pH of cells.
You might remember a thing called ATP from biology class. Eating makes it. Exercise uses it. Simple enough, except when ATP (adenosine tri phosphate) it becomes ADP (di, rather tha tri) and that other phosphate goes out into the world. What is not super obvious, and the reason it’s a major energy carrier, is that phosphate is the most negative ion in your body. You have many that are -1 and a few that are -2, but phosphate alone is -3. That means it can gather and release hydrogen ions and still be negative. And hydrogen is the H in pH. If you eat too much and don’t move enough, your cells will struggle to maintain pH and things don’t happen they way the should, which is why a healthy lifestyle has such wide ranging effects.
My point with this is that there really is a nexus between what we are planning and what we are doing.
Day 10 Set moderate goals
The diet version of this day is to accept that when you focus on losing 5 pounds at a time, dieting will be easier. Since I’m just getting rolling in the organization game, I’m not entirely sure what would be analogous. I guess 5 pounds is about what I’d expect to lose in a month, and so I need to think about an organization goal that would be reasonable to achieve in a month.
I have been thinking of a box a day, but I keep moving furniture instead. A lot are bookshelves, and they are very box like in their complexity. I think it will depend on what I’m dealing with, and what I am dealing with now is shelves full of miscellaneous type boxes. I don’t know that it’s my aim to get rid of the shelves ever. I probably do want to get the one metal shelf out of my woman cave.
But the main idea is to understand what a productive range of effort will motivate long term health. Too large of a goal and you don’t feel like you’re progressing.
Day 11 Understand the difference between HALT
In diet terms, this is understand the difference between hunger, desire to eat, and craving. In terms of organization and procrastination, I think there is anxiety, resentment, boredom, and even despair. But the point is when we respond to stress by retreating from a solution into behavior that makes things worse.
I was giving this some thought the other day as I gathered my 12 step books together on one shelf. Alcoholics can slay the dragon, overeaters have to feed it a little bit every day, and I guess hoarders have to eat it one bite at a time. What is that first drink? The first compulsive bite? I am only now beginning to understand how it happens with overeating, that we justify one bite, and having eaten something “dirty”, we unleash ourselves to wallow in mud for the rest of the day. Of course one can correlate sobriety to black and white thinking, but I’m looking for a way that works, and I think the similarity is in thinking that something is a solution when it really is causing the problem.
And what this day’s work suggests to me is that lumping all stressful feelings together is what unites these problems. Consider that if we have a behavior that solves one stressful feeling (procrastination for anxiety), we think that it will work for other feelings. Resentment is something I think goes naturally with home organization issues.
Day 12 Practice tolerating [hunger]
I do different things with translating these things. But I’m not really confident on saying hunger is equivalent to tiredness, which the table at Cognitive Workbook says. I think it may be more like stress, but that is so vague. Anxiety is something I think gets mistaken for organizational [hunger] (and physical hunger).
The essential thing that happens is that we have the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes, and the sympathetic nervous system, which freaks out. What most people don’t realize is that the freakout system is the physiological default. Our hearts are wired to run 100 pbm. So a resting heart rate (more like 60-70 bpm) requires activation of the relaxation system. Eating is a really reliable way to activate that. And I guess so are leisure activities, but they can turn into procrastination.
I came up with tiredness because that is when leisure is appropriate, when you are actually tired due to getting a lot done. I haven’t been a very good example this week. My classes I’m taking have cohort activities that are not in keeping with the suggested paces of the classes, and it was kind of freaking me out. So last week I was really heavy on house work and neglecting school, and this week that has reversed.
I guess the thing I take away from this thought process is the old idea “Feelings are not good or bad, they just are”. If we feel something negative, we don’t have to escape or suppress it, nor do we have to think very hard about it. Just like when you catch yourself breathing consciously, you can let it pass. This is something I learned in recovery, though if it were enough, I wouldn’t still have a clutter problem. Distress tolerance is a tenet of dialectical behavior theory, though.
Day 13 Overcome cravings
For this one, I guess I can talk about particulars of my procrastination issues, which involve social media. I read a paper in positive psychology class about the impact of social media/texting on GPA, and while total time on Facebook correlated with lower GPA, specific uses correlated with increased GPA. Those specific uses were checking on friends and sharing links. I would assume the uses that are not that are going through the home feed liking things. It’s more of a consumption activity. While going into a friend’s page and seeing what they are doing is a social engagement. Sharing a link (probably with a comment) is social and intellectual.
The good news is that the less you give in to cravings/media consumption, the less you will want it. Beck observes that these are things where a taste increases, rather than sates, desire. It’s a bit like alcohol, which no one “needs” but many people “want. So maybe there is a role here for looking at wants vs. needs. Another place this comes up is in acquring things, either shopping or, heaven help us, on Freecycle or Craigslist.
Not giving into craving/wanting/consuming is something we can then give ourselves credit for. Beck mentions that tension occurs with wanting, but if we can decide we are not going to act on it, the tension dissipates. She offers two methods of dealing with a craving: mindset and behavioral. In mindset, you talk yourself through the consequences, and then behavioral is kind of a back up plan, to remove yourself from the situation, distract yourself, employ relaxation techniques, or have a sugar free sweet.
I wrote a list of coping strategies once, they had to do with feelings of distress and kind of followed the continuum of healthy defense mechanisms. Altruism, humor, socializing, sublimation, anticipation, or entertainment as a kind of last resort. Well, I thought I did. I went to look at it, and it doesn’t really look like I remembered. But the idea is that when you can’t walk, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you. If you just really want to use Facebook, use it socially and not as a palliative.
Day 14 Plan Ahead
Theoretically, the “diet” doesn’t start until tomorrow. At the start of my process, I felt like I was moving forward, but my experiences have taught me that I probably do need to have more accountability in my program. I really am ready to draw out a plan of tomorrow, and use timers to do my best to stick with it.
In the book Beck talks about planning around a rubric, and I guess that is what I originally drew up, but I need to be more specific. I’m going to clean/organize “what” and I’m going to study “what”. The last two weeks has been the first time I’ve been working in two classes at once since being online all the time. My flex time also needs to be decided on, or I just keep going in what I want to do, which is often not what I need to do.