Make Household Organization a Habit

Being organized can be a good habit that will supercharge your house cleaning, meal preparation and more.

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On the Trail of Good Habits

Ready to bring the power of habit to your side in the war against domestic chaos? Try these three tips to help you form new habits:

One habit at a time. Tempting as it is to decide that today, you’ll change your entire life from top to bottom, resist the urge. It’s better to build a single helpful habit than try for a total overhaul of life and fail. Changing a habit takes undivided energy and commitment. To succeed, focus on a single habit. Only after you’ve established a new habit should you move on to another. Take heart, though. With 52 weeks in each year, you can build 17 new habits and still take two weeks vacation in a single year.

Hitch your habit to a star. A new habit stands a better chance of survival if it has a friend. Think of a habit you have now as a locomotive engine, and add the new one to the train. By building new habits in concert with established ones, you make the change easier to adopt. Do you put your toddler down for a nap at 2 p.m. each afternoon? That’s a perfect “prompt” to build your new habit — 30 minutes of daily inspirational reading — into your schedule at 2:05 p.m.

Seek out support. When it comes to building new habits, a support network is worth a thousand words. Agree to trade “nags” with a good friend: You hold him or her accountable, he or she holds you accountable as you work to build new habits together. Look for habit buddies to conquer tough habits side-by-side. Have you decided to walk for 45 minutes each day? Walking with a friend, a neighbor or your spouse will double the motivation (and the fun!).

Habits: Where to Start?

You’re sold on the power of habit, but where to begin? While every family’s climb out of chaos will be different, focus on building these first habits for an orderly home:

Check your lists. Review each day’s checklists and to-do lists each morning and evening. They’ll keep you on-track and organized each day.

Make the bed. Invest 45 seconds to straighten sheets and tuck the covers to start the day on an organized note.

Take time for self-care. Morning or evening, no matter how busy, take 20 minutes for grooming and self-care. Care for yourself first; it’ll give you confidence throughout the day.

Welcome each morning. The night before, check clothing for the next day. Set the table for breakfast, and set out items needed to prepare morning beverages.

Keep meals in their place. Clean kitchen counters and wash dirty dishes after each meal. Don’t let cleanup chores from one meal invade cooking energy needed for the next one.

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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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