Welcome to the Positively Living Podcast. I’m your host, Lisa, and today’s episode is a bit of a throwback for me because it’s inspired by one of the first resources I created as a coach.

Picture it, Sicily 1922. Or rather, New York, 2017, a year after I founded Positively Productive Systems officially. I was a professional organizer transitioning into productivity coaching, a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, and working with clients on reducing clutter and boosting organization in life and business. 

Since that time, I have seen my fair share of clutter and loved every moment of clearing it out and helping clients minimize, simplify, and start fresh. From the moment I first stepped into a cluttered space, though, I’ve been fascinated with, and most focused on, helping people declutter their minds and hearts, even amidst a physical mess.

Why? Because inside is where it all starts.

Ways We Sabotage our Productivity

I have no doubt about the impact of our minds on our outside world and vice versa. Our physical space affects and reflects what’s going on in our minds, which is why it’s essential to address both the physical and mental sides. I noticed immediately that external, physical space was easier to discuss and address, which makes sense because it’s tangible. 

You can see it. So while I was happy to keep discussing physical clutter as needed, and I still do during interviews, with clients, and on the podcast, I chose to shift how I coached and presented to focus on what’s happening mentally. I believe when we do that, we get to the root of the matter, which is critical for long-lasting change.

We Need a Mindset Shift

When I say focus on what’s happening mentally, you may be thinking of the word “Mindset.” That’s only part of it, but it’s an important part. And since Mindset is a buzzword that gets mistreated, I want to make sure we don’t use it incorrectly here. We want to address what is accurately considered mindset–“the established set of attitudes held by someone.” 

[Side Note: Valerie Friedlander and I cover what mindset is (and isn’t) in episode 114 on Harmful Mindset Approaches, so I encourage you to listen to that if it’s a new concept to you.]

The bottom line: your attitude–your mindset–will dictate what you can accomplish.

Studies continue to show a mix of results about mindset, especially with the idea of a fixed or growth mindset, made popular by Carol Dweck. Still, the anecdotal evidence has been piling up, and I’ve witnessed time and time again how our mind’s focus directly correlates to what we achieve.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” That makes me chuckle not only because it’s quippy, but Stewie quotes it in an episode of Family Guy when he and Brian work together, so I think of his voice saying it. But I digress…

When I work with clients, it’s extremely important that there be an inherent belief or a foundational acceptance that things can and will work out…that we can find a way. Remember, productivity is doing things the right way, at the right time for you. 

We are here not so much to figure out the IF but rather the HOW.  

It’s been my experience that when that mindset piece is missing, the process is more difficult (and slower), and what’s accomplished rarely lasts. Sometimes clients end up back where they started, or worse. This is why I coach and encourage mindset work as a critical part of decluttering, organizing, and developing habits and systems.

It’s also why I obtained my Life Coach certification in 2017. It was the ideal tie-in, allowing me to serve clients holistically and make sure that all the work that they did would last. 

As I reflected on the resources I could provide to my growing audience at the time, I felt torn. Other people in my industry were providing checklists and organizing “tips,” and I thought perhaps I SHOULD do that also. (That’s foreshadowing to two items on the list, by the way.) But I couldn’t shake that we needed to dig deeper and start at the mental foundation of it all. (Those who know me aren’t remotely shocked by this.)

I can, and still do provide the organizing ideas and how-tos, but I knew even then that aligning and addressing your mindset was one of the greatest tips I could provide. 

The Seven Ways

Through my own development and my experiences with clients, I’ve found negative self-talk to be a mindset killer. Even for those who are positive and determined, how they treat themselves and perceive things can be a silent threat that unravels all they are trying to do. 

As I was reflecting on the topics that came up over and over again with clients, one phrase jumped out at me first: “Stop Saying Should.” 

From there, a full list flowed freely. I wrote Stop Saying Should: Seven Sneaky Ways We Sabotage Our Happiness and Productivity in minutes. And it all started with that simple but potent phrase.

  1. Stop Saying Should
  2. Comparing yourself to others (which I covered in episode 113)
  3. Assuming What People Think (if you don’t have it directly from the source, you are working with incomplete and frequently incorrect data) 
  4. Repeating the Same (Negative) Stories About Yourself to Yourself (when you identify in a certain way, it can be a block to any kind of change) 
  5. Believing that Self-Care is Optional (what more can I say about that one – there are tons of episodes here on the podcast dedicated to showing you it’s not)
  6. Spending Time with Negative People (I’m not talking about people who are realistic or complain from time to time. I’m talking about people who are consistently negative or determined that life won’t work. We need to declutter what is toxic in our lives, and sometimes it’s the people.)
  7. Seeing Failure as a bad thing (when you reframe something that didn’t work, you open up your world to resilience)

Happiness and confidence deeply affect productivity, which is why we must “declutter” the things that work against us, such as feelings of obligation or envy or a lack of self-care. In addition to our emotional and mental wellness, physical decluttering and sorting become considerably easier when you have eradicated what we refer to as “stinkin’ thinkin’.” So it’s a win-win to focus on the psyche as a foundation for organizing your life.

When we embrace those negative thoughts that inevitably enter our minds, we sabotage ourselves.

Conversely, when we move forward with a positive, “can do” spirit, we increase our energy and determination and achieve far more.

What you focus on, you fuel. Where you direct your attention matters, and you end up with more of whatever has it.

What has your attention?

I’d love to know which one stands out for you. Or if there are multiple ones, in what order 

Message me on Instagram at @positively_Lisa, and if you’d like a copy of the full list to review and place it where you can see it as a reminder, head to the Positively Productive Free Resources Library at https://positivelyproductive.com/resources/ to request access. I’ll be here cheering you on as you remove these blocks and move ahead with your goals and dreams! Stay tuned for more episodes that dig into this list as well, starting with saying should!