Declutter Your Thinking Habits [Mission #47]

Declutter Your Thinking Habits

Welcome to Mission #47 of our 52 Get Organized Missions.

If you procrastinate constantly, sabotage yourself, get immobilized by perfectionism, or just feel miserable, then you might be the victim of your own ineffective thinking habits.

In this mission we look at 10 negative thinking habits and use them to spring-clean your thoughts.

Remember: you only need 30 minutes for the basic mission. Extended Options are below.

If you’re new, you might like to start here -> 52 Organizing Missions.

Note: This mission is adapted from e-class 33 of the Happiness Strategies Life Area of our Design Your Life Program.

Get Organized Mission #47:
Declutter Your Thinking Habits

Just as we have habitual ways of driving or dressing, we have idiosyncratic thinking habits.

Sometimes they serve us well. Other times they undermine us in little and big ways  – often without our conscious awareness.

To get rid of these unhelpful thinking styles, we need to recognize the troublemakers and find replacements for them.

So let’s do that now.

Step 1: Identify Your Negative Thinking Habits (10 Mins)

Read carefully through the list of negative thinking habits below, and identify the ones you’re guilty of.

If you habitually think along the lines of an ‘Instead of’ example, then this could be a problem thinking habit for you.

Step 2: Declutter Your Thinking (20 Mins)

Divide a piece of paper into two columns.

For each of the negative thinking habits that you identified in yourself in Step 1:

  • In the left-hand column, write down your usual negative thought. It may have a similar feel or theme to the ‘Instead of’ example.
  • In the right-hand column, reframe the thought into a more constructive one. The aim is to move away from the thinking style in the description (eg black & white thinking, perfectionism) and toward a thought that’s more supportive of you. Use the ‘Try’ examples to guide and inspire you.

Keep this piece of paper handy and read it every day (say, before bed or on the train to work) until you start to absorb the new thoughts.

Okay, here’s the list.

1. Black & white thinking

Instead of:

· My job totally sucks.


· My job doesn’t use my skills, but it will pay the bills while I look for something better.

2. Perfectionism

Instead of:

· I have to keep to this diet perfectly – or I’ll never lose weight.


· Nobody is perfect. I can make the occasional slip with my healthy eating, and still lose weight.

3. Assuming the worst

Instead of:

· I’ll never be able to handle this job – why bother?


· I’ve done well on most of my previous jobs. I can do well on this one too.

4. Catastrophizing

Instead of:

· The party will be awful and I won’t be able to stand it.


· The party might push me out of my comfort zone a bit, but I can handle that.

5. Looking on the dark side

Instead of:

· If I speak up people might think I’m egotistical.


· If I speak up people might think I’ve got some good ideas.

6. Labeling yourself

Instead of:

· I can’t believe I said that – I’m such an idiot.


· Wow – I said a pretty dumb thing today.

7. Being over-dramatic

Instead of:

· The rain ruined my favorite shoes – this is a disaster!


· I’m really disappointed that my favorite shoes are ruined, but I’ll get over it in a few days.

8. Deflecting positives and compliments

Instead of:

· This old thing? I only wear it to distract people from my colossal ears.


· Thank you!

9. Taking things personally

Instead of:

· That salesperson was rude to me – now I feel awful.


· That salesperson doesn’t even know me. She may be having a bad day.

10. Taking feelings as facts

Instead of:

· I feel upset by what he said – he’s so mean!


· I’m sometimes over-sensitive, so it’s possible he wasn’t being mean.

Okay – now it’s your turn!

Dos & Don’ts

  • Don’t get bogged down with the names or categories of negative thinking habits – these are just simplifying devices.
  • Do focus instead on identifying habitual, unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more constructive ones.

Extended Organizing Mission Options

Want to go beyond this 30-minute organizing mission?

  • Do this mission with a bunch of friends. Support and encourage each other in identifying negative thinking habits in Step 1, and brainstorming replacement thoughts in Step 2.
  • Do this mission with your kids. Help them to identify their unhelpful thinking habits, and teach them how to come up with better options.

Ready, Set, Go!

Remember – move quickly, act fast, don’t overthink.

Start The 30-Minute Timer

Before You Go: Check In!

Please add a comment to say you’ve completed this week’s Get Organized Mission and you’re keeping your commitment.

And see you back here next week!

Did You Know

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Click here to sign up for 52 Organizing Missions.

[Image: by gutter]

16 thoughts on “Declutter Your Thinking Habits [Mission #47]

  1. FLO says:

    Another unneeded “mission”. I have no time for negative thinking. I cannot imagine “thinking” like the examples given.

  2. Amy says:

    As someone who is always worried I’m missing something, I almost quit this site when I read about negative habits I was “guilty of.” Since this is directed towards people who frequently feel guilty for trivial reasons, maybe better language would be negative thinking habits I “fall prey to.” Make it sound like an accident or a mistake instead of a moral failing!

  3. Shawn says:

    I’m a perfectionist and have learned to deal with it with my “good enough” rule. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but I can stop when it is good enough to meet my needs.

  4. anthony says:

    Your right,Sorting out your thoughts and the way you think of things that are happening in your life can be all a tangled mess unless you come up with a way to organize your thoughts and feelings,just the same as you would approach decluttering your house,rather than just rush round trying to pick things up and tidy them away which very rarely works right, you need to come up with some sort of system to get your home decluttered the way you want. Good article!

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