The idea for this list started with the wonderful book by Caroline Arnold called Small Move, Big Change. The book starts off with Caroline recounting how as she enter her parent’s home, she hung her keys on the key hook. She was an adult and not living in the home anymore but she was on autopilot in hanging her car keys on the hook. I don’t know about you, but I always end up looking everywhere for my keys. The very first itzy bitzy habit I started due to this book, was to put my keys in a plate near the garage door. It took a few weeks but now even my husband puts his keys in that dish. Groceries and purse in hand, I still drop the keys in the plate as soon as I enter my house. Boom. Habit created. Now we are on autopilot and there is no need to think about it.
The point of these newfound habits is for it to become unconscious. When you spend anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks working on some small change, you are hard-wiring it into your brain. Once it’s hardwired, you do it unconsciously. There is no effort needed anymore. The key plate has been around for over 6 months and I really don’t even think about it anymore. So let’s get started on organizing your life one itzy bitzy habit at a time.
1. Put your keys immediately into a key plate, bowl or hook.
2. Put your shoes or slippers in the same location.
3. Put your clothes away immediately upon changing (this is for my kids).
4. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher immediately (this is for my husband).
5. Make your bed.
6. Plug your cell phone in immediately after you get home.
7. Wish your friends happy birthday daily on Facebook.
8. Put packages and groceries away immediately.
9. Take out the garbage when it’s three quarters full.
10. Clean up as you cook.
The other reason you want to improve your organizational habits is that it frees up space in your head. Clutter is contagious. Once a dirty coffee cup is left on the kitchen counter, it starts attracting dirty plates, forks and used napkins. Visual clutter is the same as mind clutter. You can’t think as well if you have clutter in front of you. You are given a 100 units of energy every day. So don’t blow them on making decisions about what to wear or what project to work on next. If you prepare the evening before, the next day goes smoothly. President Obama has two colors of suits to eliminate making minor decisions about what to wear. Don’t waste your precious 100 units on making minor decisions.
11. Plan you clothing the night before school or work.
12. Schedule your day first thing in the morning for 10 minutes.
13. Schedule your week Monday morning for 30 minutes.
14. Schedule a project out in small chunks over time.
15. Schedule training for a 5 k race on your calendar.
16. Straighten a room as you leave it (this if for my husband and my pillow fetish).
17. Store your reading glasses in a case (like this one from Thirty-One).
18. Keep one pen or pencil on your desk.
19. Keep pre-prepared client/customer/employee files ready for use.
20. Empty your car of trash every time you park.
21. Keep reusable grocery bags in the trunk of your car.
22. Keep business receipts in a designated section of your wallet.
23. Pay bills on a designated day of the week.
24. Water your plants on a designated day of the week.
25. Clear your desk at the end of the day.
I’m sure many of you already do some of these things so “Good for you!” It’s all about building on your already unconscious habits. Heck, that’s why the list is so long, so you can find one nugget to implement. Pick one and give it a few weeks for it to become your next autopilot.