Organized Habits

Having organized habits is great, as habits are at the core of most of the things we do, especially if we are organizing or are trying to live an organized life.

Most of the information I write comes back to a few basic principles the basics of organizing which consists out of: Decluttering, Cleaning and Organizing but when we go beyond this we enter what I call the psychology of organizing. This is interesting stuff which is often hidden from us, although we will always have some blind spots we can raise awareness of our ability to organize and what we can do to increase our organization in our lives by learning about our organizing habits, creating deliberate habits and by our routines and by consciously create deliberate routines.

Some backgrounds on habits

We live in interesting times popular books on habits abound. More research is released every year about the link between habits, psychology well-being, neuroscience and our ability to be successful or more productive. We can go into heavy academic literature on neuroscience and psychology but there are also a few very simple principles which could lead to amazing psychological and practical successes and implications.

For this page, I will focus on organizing habits and how these organizing habits can lead to routines which help and support us live an organized life.

Some literature on habits

Regina Leeds mentions in her book One year to an Organized Life that; that we all already have habits and we follow these habits in a system with the “fervor of a religious zealot”. Are they all very beneficial habits? Probably not. 

The good news is, however as Charles Duhigg in the Power of Habit points out, is that; 

"if we understand habits a bit more, it could mean we can change some of them to get more positive results in our lives".

Definition of organized habits

My definition of a habit is a simple task we do either because we chose to do this or because, we are used to it.

Some of these behaviors you have deliberately chosen, others semi unconsciously developed as your life unfolded.

Think about drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, going for your daily coffee or having a smoke, they are all examples of simple habits that we have gotten into. When the habits are a bit more elaborate (needing a sequence of steps before there is a sense of completion), you can also call them systems or routines. Examples of routines are folding the laundry, doing your weekly budget and planning you weekly meals, if you have been doing these things for a long time you might simply refer to them as a habit. 

How habits work

There are a few basic principles at play in a habit; this is a trigger, the actual habit (activity) and the reward. 

Negative Habit

Positive Habit

The habit can be positive or negative e.g. you could smoke or fold your laundry, the loop of trigger and reward remains the same. If we are not aware of the trigger and reward it might create a situation in which we engage in a habit without realizing why.

This is interesting and powerful stuff because you could think about what you think and feel for example before you want to organize your wardrobe, paperwork, do your finances or simply organize your bedroom or kitchen. Once we can label the feeling we can alter our behavior as a responds to this and think of a reward that appeals to us. 

In the example of positive behavior the person sees the pile of laundry, their organized habit is to fold for 5 minutes and then have a double reward the sense of completion of this job and a cup of tea which they enjoy.

How to use organized habits to become and remain organized in life

Moral of the story is start to become aware of your Habits and what triggers them. Once you have some more awareness around them find a reward which is appealing and change the habit. Overtime you will find yourself respond differently to triggers like; a pile of laundry, needing to pay bills or organize your budget or even stress and overwhelm which are all very natural feelings when organizing and decluttering. You can however get past them through learning more, thinking about your internal and external environments and trialing different techniques to see what works for you.

Interested in organized habits?

If you like this topic have a read through the following pages: routines, the psychology of organizing and organizing life.

Besides the books by Regina Leeds and Charles Duhigg there are also great books by:
Neil Fiore - The Now Habit
Stephen Covey – the 7 Habits of Highly effective people


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