by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: It's okay to take a small, insignificant-seeming step toward change. Those steps will take you closer toward your goals.
As you walk around your home today, notice one thing, a minor annoyance, that you want to change.
No, I don’t mean that you want to keep your kitchen counter clear of clutter or that you want to organize your closet by type of garment and color. Observe something small, so small in fact, that it seems silly to notice it; but, you do.
For me, it’s the fact that when I take off my coat, I throw it on the back of my chair in the dining room instead of hanging it up. Now, I live in a bungalow, and there is no hall closet for hanging coats. My husband has taken over the coat rack in the corner of the dining room (sigh) with several of his sweatshirts and a backpack for portable medical equipment. To hang up my coat, I need to put it in my bedroom closet. No “problem” since the bedroom is a few steps from both the front and side door.
But, I don’t do it. In the scope of decluttering, organizing, and building habits, this is so minor a detail that it is easy to ignore. But, my coat sits on the back of my chair day after day. I pull the coat off the chair when I wear it … and, when I return home, it goes back in the same place.
I do this so automatically, I almost don’t notice the habit. However, I do notice the jacket. As I said, in the grander picture of my home, this is an insignificant detail. But, what does this mindless habit tell my brain, “It’s just for right now,” “This is easier,” “I have bigger projects to tackle,” “I’m busy,” “I’m tired,” “This doesn’t matter.”
So, for the next week, it’s my goal to hang up my jacket in my bedroom closet each time I’m finished wearing it. (Unless, of course, it’s wet; then, I’ll wait for it to dry.) I know I won’t form a habit in a week (I’ve read that it can take up to 66 days to establish a habit, but I've also read that some habits can occur more quickly). I will try to be more conscious of what I’m doing … and what I’m allowing to slip.
Will hanging up my jacket make my home more organized? No. However, it may wake me up to other mindless habits and, once noticed, they can’t go unnoticed. Also, noticing that I’ve succeeded in creating a habit is a win, a small win, but something that will bolster me when it comes to tackling another task.
Maybe, you don’t like how you drop your in-coming mail in a pile by the front door instead of immediately tossing the junk mail and putting bills and invitations into an inbox on your desk. Maybe you are annoyed that you leave used mugs and water glasses throughout your home instead of bringing them into the kitchen. Maybe you never think of hanging your keys on the hook by the door.
Join me and work on that one, small, insignificant task until it becomes a habit that no longer requires thought or energy … you just do it. Let’s see if a small win helps create larger wins in our lives.
Follow up ... I now hang up my coat (unless it's wet). I then started keeping my purse in my closet instead of leaving it in the dining area. Most of the time, mail and other papers that I dropped on my dining table get put away by the end of the day. So, squeee! habits!
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Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, pursues learning, practicing, and sharing information about the everyday habits that can lead to living a better life.