How to Change a Habit of Being Messy

How to Change a Habit of Being Messy

Messy is a habit formed by consistent practice the same as clean or organized are habits. It is the day to day practice that will create the difference.

break messy habits
The squirrel scampered up the tree with a dead limb three times its size. I watched it as it went up the tree knowing it was in the process of building a nest and curious where it had decided to create its home.

We have some very tall trees, and I’m always amazed when the squirrels perch so high that it seems like sheer will holds the nests in place.

This squirrel did not go very high. It stopped on a limb and went to work, right next to a limb that already had a nest built.

I thought it was odd the squirrel would build so close to another squirrel. “Maybe it’s starting a squirrely neighborhood.” I was raised in a rather squirrely neighborhood myself so I understood the appeal.

The actions of the squirrel drove me to do some research. Did you know when a squirrel’s nest becomes too messy the squirrel abandons the nest and builds another one?

I guess that is one way to deal with a habit of being messy, but it’s probably not the most cost-effective – especially for us human parents of boys!

Messy habits are learned behaviors. If I want to avoid having to abandon the house for a new abode then I need to develop the actions and behaviors to change my messy habits (as well as those of my children if I don’t want to be cleaning up after them for the rest of my life).

control the squirrels

Change a Habit of Messy

  1. Keep the table cleaned off. Over the years I’ve discovered any location near the door becomes a dropping place for random stuff. There are two ways you can avoid letting tables becomes storage locations. One, clear the table every meal. That is not only a way to get the table cleared but also a way to encourage family mealtime. Two, remove the temptation. If you don’t need the table then get rid of it.
  2. Put clothes away when you change. It is an easy habit to drop your pajamas in the floor because you know you are going to put them back on later. Instead, create a home for your rewearables. Have a space in your bathroom drawer or a hanger in your closet that holds your rewearables until it is time for them to be reworn.
  3. Put clothes away when they come out of the dryer. I have to remind myself that “in your room” is not put away. The clothes need to go into their home before that task can be marked off.

  4. Put the dishes away when they are clean. The longer you wait to put away the plastic drying in the rack or the dishes in the dishwasher, the more likely you are to create a backlog in the sink. Once dishes start piling up in the sink they magically multiply. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning to have to face down a sink full of dirty dishes. Put the dishes away and you have space to clean as you go.
  5. Take out the trash when you get out of the car. If the small trash bag if full, take the whole thing. If there is one piece in it, then just take out that one piece. Again, this is the “clean as you” process that makes changing a habit of messy easier.
  6. Get rid of the boxes. Stacks of boxes might look better than piles of stuff, but you need to conquer the stuff instead of hiding it away. Take one large empty box and set it next to the door. Once a week, go through one of the boxes you have stacked up and determine if you want to keep, repurpose, or release what has been hiding in there. The key is you have to find a permanent home for anything you keep. Put all release items in the box by the door. When it is full take it to a thrift store or charity.

Messy is a habit. If you want to change the habit of messy then you have to make the choice to do things different. Don’t invest the time and energy you have into putting things off (which allows things to pile up). Clean as you go. Take one step at a time. And just keep going. You will get to the place where messy is no more.

What are your habit changing tips? Share your ideas in the comments below.



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