What a year 2020 was. I’m sure most of us are glad to see that door close; However, if we’re at all realistic, we know that 2021 will carry over some of the challenges of 2020. Just because we’re still amidst a pandemic doesn’t mean that we can’t work on what we can control. And what better way to focus on what we can control than to evaluate and work on our habits?
Whether it’s the bad habits that we’ve allowed to creep into our lives or whether it’s good habits we’d like to adopt, there’s no better time than the start of a new year to make that happen. And when there is a flurry of things we can’t control affecting our lives, it’s more important to focus on the controllables.
How to Successfully Start Good Habits
If you’ve ever read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, this will sound very familiar. There’s a lot of info out there on habit formation and sticking with those good habits. Many of the principles are the same.
Make it Easy
Make it Rewarding
Make it Repeatable
If you want to start out by grabbing the bull by the horns, you may want to hold your horses just a moment. Great, sustainable habits don’t happen at the drop of a hat, and they do take real work and time to keep them consistent.
Making Your Habits Easy
Maybe running a mile every day may turn you into the runner that you wish to be. But if you’re not coming from a place of that level of time and activity every day, running a mile every day may not be a realistic starting point. Maybe for you, shooting for 10,000 steps each day is that starting point. Maybe it’s committing to a 10-minute walk each day at first. Make sure that your new habit is easy to do consistently. We’re not looking to go all-out for three weeks only to ditch the habit completely. Your motivation may fade when it’s too rainy, too cold, your muscles hurt and the motivation to hit snooze seems to be a no-brainer.
Remember why you want to adopt the habit. This can be your answer to a lack of motivation. Post a sticky note in a place you look every day. Remind yourself from time to time why you want to develop said habit. The easier it is to take action on a new habit, the easier it is to create a consistent routine around it.
Making Your Habits Rewarding
There’s some real power in rewarding yourself for sticking with your new habits. As soon as your motivation fades, it’s so much more difficult to continue the new habit. Aside from reminding yourself of your ‘Why’ behind the habit, rewards can really help push you into more consistent behavior.
There are many ways you can reward yourself. Just make sure your rewards don’t cancel out the benefit of the habit. For example, if your habit supports your goal of losing weight, a cupcake may not be a good reward. Perhaps you can treat yourself to a bubble bath and a glass of wine for sticking with your habit for a week. Or maybe your reward for exercising is getting to listen to your favorite podcast while you do it.
Make Your Habits Repeatable
Quite possibly the easiest way to form a new habit is to attach it to a pre-existing habit or environment.
Cues– Use your environment to remind you of your habit in a consistent manner. Cues will not only remind you of your habit, they will direct you on when to execute. Your cue may be your walking/running shoes laid out right before you go to bed. When you wake up, your shoes will be your cue, and they’re ready for you to put on. Another cue can be placing your journal next to your coffee pot so that while your coffee is brewing, you may use your journal to plan out your day or reflect on what you’re grateful for, if either of those are habits you are wishing to enforce.
Habit Stacking– Another great way to make your habits repeatable is to stack your habits. Attach a new habit to a pre-existing habit. We all have some level of habits, even if you don’t feel you have much of a routine. Everyone (hopefully!) wakes up every day. That’s part of your routine. Are you trying to create a habit of making your bed every day? This is a habit I adopted years ago, and I do that as soon as my feet hit the floor after waking up each morning.
You can combine cues and habit stacking for extra help. Your shoes are in the doorway, ready for your walk or run. You can stack that habit to brushing your teeth. As soon as you’re done brushing your teeth, you put on your running/walking shoes.
If you want to walk your dog every day, the new habit may be stacked to returning home from work. Use your cues. Try placing the dog’s leash in the same place you put your keys when you get home.
Habits can be hard to make habitual. Motivation wanes, the day gets too busy, or you may just forget.
- Remember your why when you find you’re losing motivation. If this happens, write it on a sticky note and put it somewhere you look every day.
- Make it EASY. Small, tiny habits lead to big change, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. If it’s too complicated, you’re not likely to stick with it, especially on days that tend to be more difficult. Create cues that remind you to execute your new habit, and remember your why.
- Make it rewarding. Looking forward to a reward, even something small, can help give you a push to do it.
- Make it repeatable. Habits form by repetition. Use habit stacking to stack your habit with a pre-existing habit/routine. Eventually, you won’t even have to think about it. Utilize cues that push you into your new habit.
If you’ve been following us in our Dust Devils Facebook group, you may have noticed that we’ve been sharing some fun organizing hacks. We thought we’d kick off our blog by sharing some of our favorite methods to keep things organized and tidy.
We’ve likely all heard of Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of organizing and tidying up. And if you look for organizational tips on the internet, at least 80% of your results are likely to produce some form of KonMari. What is the KonMari method, and is this the only way to organize?
First off, of course this isn’t the only method for organization. While an internet search for organizational tips, etc. will bring up mostly this method, before a few years ago, most people had never heard of KonMari.
For those of you who have perhaps been living under a rock (or let’s face it- too busy!), Marie Kondo wrote the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and has a show on Netflix “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” Kondo is a Japanese organizational expert who advises keeping only things in the home that “spark joy.”
Her method does require some hefty time upfront, an open mind, and a willingness to let go. KonMari is a lifestyle, and for it to work for you, you must really work at it and allow yourself to believe in it.
It’s not just five minutes here and there, once or twice a day. It’s not just organizing your “stuff.” It’s letting go of things that don’t contain mental, sentimental value. Letting go of things that don’t bring you joy. No more “I might need that one day” and finding a place for all of your stuff. Read a quick synopsis below of the KonMari method, how to maintain order in your home and tips, tricks and hacks to keep things organized.
Quick Run-Down on the KonMari Method:
1. First, you must prepare, both physically and mentally. Ideally, this should be done in one go, so be sure to block off an entire day. You’ll also want to prepare by mentally imagining your life not bogged down by clutter.
2. The next step will be to go through everything. You’ll decide whether you really need to keep or discard each item. Rather than working room by room, we will work by category. You may have similar items in different rooms, and the way we’ll get through each category will be to grab all of those items to work on at once.
Start with clothing. Grab all articles of clothing. Pick up each item. Does it spark joy for you? Do you really enjoy this article of clothing? Are you keeping it because you have it? Are you keeping it just because it fits? If it doesn’t spark joy for you, place in a discard pile. Kondo will tell you to thank the item, thank it for serving you and let it go.
While I feel gratitude is powerful, I, personally, don’t feel the need to thank my belongings. But you do what you do.
Do this for each article of clothing, then move on to books, then papers, then miscellaneous (break down into smaller categories like kitchen utensils, small appliances, office supplies, etc) and lastly, sentimental items/mementos. Mementos are saved for last, as it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of remembering the sentiment of the item.
3. Now that we know what we will be keeping, we can begin to really organize our items. We can’t organize before we decide what we won’t be keeping.
How to keep your home tidy and organized once you’ve decluttered
Decluttering can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. You’ve put in all this time, but to keep your home tidy, you’ll need to stay on top of a few things. The best way to maintain your tidy home is to build and maintain organizational habits. Here are a few:
1. Make your bed- right when you get up. An unmade bed gives the illusion of a dirty room, even if the rest of the room is clean. Conversely, making your bed will make your bedroom look just a little more clean, even if it’s a mess. Make your bed the moment you get up. It should be pretty quick.
If this is too much when you wake up, or if your partner is still asleep in the bed, then make sure the habit of making your bed is consistent. It’s easiest to build habits in chunks together. I wake earlier than my partner, so once he’s awake, I brush my teeth then make the bed (then continue a small string of other habits).
Making your bed will help you feel a sense of order that carries on throughout the day. That’s why making your bed when you wake up can be very useful.
2. Put everything away after you use it. This seems pretty obvious, but it’s easy to get off track. Whether you leave things out because you’re in a hurry or just procrastinating and lazy if you put things back where they go after you use them, you’re creating a habit of this, and both cleaning and tidying up will be much quicker and effortless.
If your home is constantly tidy and organized, you’ll feel better and more organized, mentally. Creating a routine of instantly putting things back where they belong will eliminate the need to actually spend real time tidying up.
3. Do dishes right after you use them. If you primarily use a dishwasher, then rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher right away. Be sure to empty the dishwasher when it’s done- all at once. Make a rule that clean dishes don’t get left in the dishwasher. When you pick clean dishes out of the dishwasher without unloading it, you’re only solidifying a bad habit.
If you don’t use a dishwasher, or if you used a dish that doesn’t go in the dishwasher, wash it right away. Doing this takes a few seconds per item, and washing dishes is no longer a chore.
4. Before you leave a room, be sure to scan the room for any items that belong in the room you’re going to. Going to the kitchen to grab a glass of water? Scan the room you’re in to see if there’s anything that needs to go to the kitchen. If I’m leaving my desk to grab a glass of water from the kitchen, I’m going to grab the mug from my morning coffee and wash it as soon as I get to the kitchen. It takes a few seconds.
5. Take a few minutes each day to tidy the area you’re leaving for the night. Whether you work from home or work in an office, take a few minutes before ditching your desk to put everything back where it belongs. If you do this throughout the day, then it should just take a second.
6. If you just finished dinner, wash your plate and quickly wipe down the counter. When you come back in the morning, the clean and tidy kitchen will give you a good start in the morning.
Check back soon for some tips to help you stay organized!