We all want to have good habits, right? When we exercise good habits regular, routine things happen automatically. One of the habits that my mother insisted I cultivate was to put things back where they belong. I can still hear her inside my mind saying ‘did you put it back’ when I leave something out. I immediately put whatever it is back. There are many, many good habits to cultivate. The secret to making good habits stick is not so secret. It is to be consistent.
Think about small things like brushing your teeth, hanging up a bath towel, or putting dirty clothes in a laundry basket. Then there are other habits like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. These are small things that many people grow up practicing, but they are habits.
Bigger habits, the ones that help you manage and maintain the organization in your home require more thought and consistent, intentional practice.
The problem is how do we cultivate the willpower to be consistent?
The first thing to determine is your reason for creating the habit. Once you know why you are working (and it is work) to make the habit stick, it is easier to practice.
Make the habit small
Small changes are the easiest to incorporate. You can add to it when you feel really good about the smallest step.
Do not skip practicing two days in a row
Life happens. You may forget to practice the habit. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you slipped. Forgetting one day is ok. But it is harder to get back on track if you let yourself slide two days in a row.
Work on one habit at a time
Another thing to understand is that if you want to create more than one new habit, only work on creating one habit at a time. You may find that a couple of habits work well together and may even hinge upon one another. When that happens, you have hit the jackpot. Because you’ll notice right away if you slip up.
The secret to making good habits stick is practice
We can probably all agree that this is the truth. I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying ‘practice makes perfect’. What this means to me is that the more I practice doing something the better at it I become and the easier it is. You can apply that to absolutely everything.
Let’s see how this applies to tidying your bedroom
If you want to leave your bedroom tidy every morning before you go about your day, you will make your bed, put away any clothes, shoes, or jewelry laying around, and toss any trash.
The first time you do this you may think to yourself this is work. If you do it again tomorrow, you may find there is less to put away because you did it the day before. Keep reminding yourself this is something you want to do. Before you know it, you go about tidying your room without intentionally walking through the steps. Once you do that you know that you have created a good habit. You are no longer asking yourself; did I make the bed? Did I put my clothes away? Is there any trash on the floor? Do any glasses or plates need to go back to the kitchen?
Here is a less obvious secret to making good habits stick.
It is that you like the way it feels, looks, or the way it works.
Here’s an example.
You’ve had a very long busy day and are tired when you get home. The first thing you do is drop everything and kick off your shoes. You change into comfy clothes and go into the kitchen to get a snack.
Then you notice the mess of stuff you’ve left by the front door and think you don’t like the way that looks. Because you’re tired you think about leaving everything as it is until tomorrow, but you decide to take 10 minutes and put your things away.
The reason is that your good new habit is to put things where they belong. None of the stuff you dropped when you walked into your home belongs by the door. You like the new habit of putting things away because you know where to find them. And you like the way the entry to your home looks when it is tidy.
Yes. It is work to make good habits stick. The more often you actively practice them the better they stick.
If you are interested in creating a new habit, reach out to me. We can work together to determine how to make a new habit fit with your lifestyle.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.