I always brush my teeth before I go to bed, exercise first thing in the morning, and wash the household towels on Fridays. These routines help minimize my trips to the dentist, allow me to do some guilt- free snacking, and make sure my family’s towels are actually helping us stay clean rather than being a breeding ground for bacteria. Rather than wanting you to pity my boring life, I want to help you see that habits and routines, no matter how unexciting, can be the key to a stress-free life.
Charles Duhigg shares my passion for the mundane because he wrote a whole book on the subject of habits: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. According to Duhigg, habits, by their very definition, allow us to do things without thinking about them. That frees up our brains to work on the more complex problems in life. Unfortunately, habits can be good as well as bad (those that aren’t aligned with our current goals). For many of my clients, bad habits (or lack of any habit or routine) are the cause (at least in part) of their disorganization. I suggest you read Mr. Duhigg’s book to learn more about how you might be able to break your bad habits, but here are some habits or routines you might want to develop in order to create a more organized and stress-free life.
Don’t put things down, put them away. Yes, it’s often easier to just drop something near where it belongs rather than completely put it away. Often times it’s because we have a false impression of how much longer it will take to go the distance. Rather than lift the lid to put the dirty socks in the hamper, it’s easier to just plop them on top; instead of hanging up the jacket, it’s quicker to just drop it on the couch. But really, does it take more than five or 10 extra seconds to finish the job? Put mind over matter and put things where they belong. Make it as easy for yourself as possible – for example, maybe you can just remove the lid on the hamper. If the problem is that things don’t have a place where they belong, block out time to create an organizing plan for your problem areas. Of course you’re welcome to contact me if you’d like some help.
Always do something purposeful with every piece of information you encounter. Whether it’s a piece of paper or an e-mail, make a decision about what next action you need to take and either take that action, or put the information in designated place until you’re able to act purposefully on it. Make a point of doing something to move it along on its journey.
De-clutter regularly. In your workplace, spending time at the end of each day cleaning off your desk and tidying up loose ends can be highly beneficial. Not only is there a psychic benefit of starting the next workday with a clean desk, but you’re also more likely to begin working on what you want to be working on rather than gravitating to whatever piece of paper happened to catch your eye. At home, spending five or 10 minutes in each room each evening putting things away will prevent things from getting out of control. Of course if your family helped create the clutter, it sure would be nice if they helped with the de-cluttering, too.
Before purchasing something, make sure you know where it will go. Otherwise it will become clutter. You’ll typically want to store things near where you use them and store similar things together. Store things that you use most frequently in easily-accessible places.
What habits or routines will you work on developing for your simpler, more stress-free life?
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,