“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle
Habits, by definition, are actions we routinely do without thinking, like brushing our teeth in the morning. Our daily habits determine how effectively we live our lives. Over the years, I’ve had clients and friends say, “I would love to follow you around and see what you do in a day.” There is no secret to how professional organizers live an organized life. It’s all about daily habits and routines.
Ask yourself, which habits and routines best serve me and which ones don’t? Make a list and compare the positives and negatives. What do you want? More time? Less stress and anxiety? A calmer environment? Less clutter? A healthy body and mind? Think about the habits you could adopt to get what you truly desire. Know your WHY¹. This will help you stay focused on your journey.
Once you identify which new habit(s) will benefit your life, create a plan to incorporate it into your routine.
James Clear, author of the book “Atomic Habits” says that building better habits isn’t about filling your days with life hacks. Better habits aren’t about acquiring something, but rather about becoming a better version of yourself. Ultimately, every action is a vote for the person you wish to become.
Create a plan
One effective way to start a new habit is by stacking a new action on top of one you already routinely do. Let’s say you want to keep incoming mail from piling up. You can, for example, sit down and sort through the mail as soon as you’ve finished cleaning the dinner dishes. After a while it becomes something you routinely do, because finishing the dishes is your cue to sort through the mail. If the addition of a daily task seems too much, try picking a reoccurring time once or twice a week. Consistency is the key.
Make it easy
Create an environment where everything has its place and purpose. With the example of sorting mail, it means setting up systems to process paper quickly. Sort mail near a shredder, a filing system and a folder or bin for actionable papers. Learn how to stay ahead of paper clutter
Add incentives to help you reach your new habit. If you make it enjoyable, you’ll increase the odds that you will repeat the behavior. Example: if I clear the clutter off the kitchen counters and sort my mail, I get to browse Instagram for 15 minutes. (Caution! Set a timer or you risk going down the social media rabbit hole).
“Walk slowly, but never backwards.” -James Clear
Start small. James Clear also recommends taking approximately 2 minutes to work on your new habit. The more often you perform the beginning of a process, the more likely it is to become a routine.
Track your habits
Recording your actions and keeping track of your new habits is a great way to measure your progress and will help reinforce your new routine. You'll be aware of how you’re doing, stay accountable and motivated to keep going. Tracking doesn’t need to be complicated; it can be as simple as crossing a day off in a calendar.
If you have difficulty staying focused on your new routine, try finding an accountability partner. Checking in with a friend or relative helps keep you on task.
Set boundaries. Commit to your schedule and don’t let other people’s agenda derail your progress.
Expect bumps in the road. Life has a way of disrupting even the best-laid plans. The key is getting back on track.
Don't give up too soon. Studies show that it takes at least 21 days to form a habit.
Once you’ve established your new habit, add the next one to continue your progress. Stacking tiny habits over time will become enormous improvements over a lifetime.
"To make a habit stick you build it brick by brick" -Mel Robbins
For a consultation or organizing session, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help! Disclosure statement: Some of the blogs on this site occasionally contain affiliate links which may provide a small commission to OrganizingbyYve at no additional cost to you. I write about the things I love and have recommended or used myself throughout my years as a professional organizer.