It’s Habit Forming!

Posted by Lisa_Hidgon_Professional_Organizer on June 29, 2012  /   Posted in Blog

There are people who are just organized. I hate them. No, I’m not one of them, despite my reputation. If you know me, you know that I can let my papers go, or the laundry, or the dishes… but the pain it causes is not worth it; the frustration of searching for things, the anxiety of being late, and the time lost are just a few of the problems.

It is said that organized people have habits that keep them organized; and that  you only have to do something 672 times for it to become a habit. Ok, that’s sarcasm, not a real statistic. But what the experts are talking about are routines.

According to, routine can be a adjective or  a noun. As an adjective it means normal, usual, common, everyday, habitual, ordinary. As a noun it is, a customary or regular course of procedure. regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative.

By these definitions, routine might be considered negative or boring; but they are the key to organization. Both the noun and adjective definitions of routine include the word habitual. Routines become habit when we are not paying attention.

At one point in time, I was following an organizing professional on line. She encouraged developing routines such as making the bed as soon as you got out of it, and cleaning up a bit every day. Recently my husband commented that I didn’t seem to by following her any more. Just the opposite was true. What had really happened was that I had incorporated her advice into my daily routines (and so had he btw.) These forced routines have become so much of our daily habit that he didn’t even remember that they were originally someone else’s idea.

I used to be teacher of troubled teenagers. They often had problems transitioning from one class to another and settling into their work. I developed a routine for them for when they entered my classroom. They knew that they were to put their homework papers in a rack by my desk, put their books in the designated place, and check the DO NOW that was posted on the board. The DO NOW, was an introduction to the day’s lesson. Following this routine became habit for them, and that was the key. It enabled them to focus on learning.

We can set this up for ourselves and/or for our families. For ourselves we could put a note on the coffeepot, “Don’t make the coffee until you empty the dishwasher!”  Do what that note says and soon it will become habit. You will notice that when it’s time to make dinner, the dishwasher is ready and there is no backup from breakfast in the sink.

Put a dry erase board up in the kitchen with an expectations for the family. It could be a reminder have them check the backpacks for homework before dinner; or to walk the dog as soon as they come home. Does it take some getting used to? Yes. Will it mean instructing your spouse or kids to look at the board to begin with? Yes. A good trick is to occasionally put something outrageous or fun on the board to create interest, and to keep them paying attention.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start by choosing one thing for yourself and/or your family to work on. When this becomes the routine you will notice things will going more smoothly. A habit will have developed!

Life Organization Albany NY

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