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Virginia Wells

Habit Shifts: You’ve Come Further Than You Think

Making habit shifts is hard – and it takes time. If your house is still cluttered and disorganised despite the work you’ve put in, it can feel disheartening. But if you take time for a bit of reflection you will realise the progress you have made.

Do you feel frustrated with your progress?

Something I’ve noticed over the years of being a professional organiser is how hard we all are on ourselves. When on your decluttering journey, have you looked back over the time and felt like you’ve been doing it for ages, yet there doesn’t seem to be any change? Are you frustrated because you’ve worked so hard, yet it looks the same as before? Do you feel like there’s no point continuing this journey because it’s not making any difference and you’re just as stressed as when you first started?

I’ve noticed this in some of my clients. As an observer of their process, however, I can see how far they’ve come. It just may not be as obvious to them. Perhaps it is the same for you. Taking some me to reflect back on where you started, and see what has changed for you could be useful.

Refection Might Reveal

How far you’ve come

You may have forgotten how much you’ve achieved and where you’d started. You’ve forgotten how overwhelmed you were when you first started this journey. Before photos (just for you) can be useful to capture your progress. Not always though, as even though you created homes for what was gathering on the kitchen bench (and you’ve worked hard to put away), the bench is still a convenient spot to put things. That’s not a failure, that’s just life.

Being aware that you have created homes for stuff gathering here, you have been putting these items back, and that you are still working on it is all you need to know. As you continue to find homes for items in your home, and purge a little more, you will see more and more significant change. The habit of putting things on the bench may not shift until later, but it will. There are little process changes for maintaining these common dumping grounds so have no fear! Observe the habit shifts you have made so far, and that you’ve maintained the area much better than you used to. Or, it may have previously taken three hours to clear the bench and now it’s half an hour. This is a significant change.

That you’ve made lots of habit shifts

It’s common to overlook the habit changes you’ve made along the way. Sure, your home may not look substantially different yet, but if you imagine what it could be like had you not made changes, you could be much worse off. This way of reflecting can be a big eye-opener. I notice a lot of my clients can feel disappointed in their progress, having expected much more visible change. When I remind them of their previous buying or accumulating habits and how that was impacting their space, or the old habits of just shifting things from room to room without creating homes for them, they suddenly realise the meaningful impact they’ve really made.

That things are a little easier

You’ll notice that things you have worked through are usually easier to find and you’re spending less time tidying up too. Certain aspects of your life have become a little easier. There is a little more routine, time management, process and ease in your day. Sure you may have some more changes to make, but don’t disregard all the hard work, changes and habit shifts you have made.

That you’ve put systems in place

When decluttering properly, you’re not just purging items from your home. You are setting up systems and processes, and new ways of thinking, to support living a simpler life. A stress-free life.

  • It takes extra time to not just throw out the papers but to set up a new filing system (and learn how to use it, and tweak it when it’s not working like expected).
  • You’re not just doing the washing, you’re setting up a streamlined washing process.
  • As you work through the clutter, you’re remembering and figuring out new ways to manage all of your To Dos.
  • You’re maybe even teaching others in the house about ‘homes’ for the stuff you are keeping and getting others on board with the habit shifts and changes.

This is BIG stuff. This all takes time. As you work through more of the clutter, more new habit shifts will integrate into the spaces and processes you’ve already created.

Meaningful change takes time

Remember habits take a while to set in. You’ve probably heard that it takes 28 days to take a new habit on board. I’ve read more recently that it actually takes up to 60 days to create a habit, and you can only take on three new habits at a time.

So let’s apply this to decluttering your home. With any area you’re decluttering, you might be making a multitude of changes that are essentially new habits. Let’s say you declutter the kitchen. You might have set up new homes for at least five different items (probably more). That’s five new habits to take on board. That’s not including any other habits you might be taking on relating to your health, diet or work. And they are just the ‘conscious’ habits. What about all the ones you’ve taken on without even realising?

With that in mind, it’s no wonder we don’t necessarily have our organising feats take hold as quickly as we would have liked. They can’t all fall into place straight away. We need to cut ourselves some slack and realise that all of the changes we are making are going to take a little while to integrate.

Be kinder on yourself

Being aware of this, you may be able to be kinder on yourself when it all feels like nothing’s changed, and it’s hopeless. You may now be able to look at it objectively and decide if an issue is a faulty habit, or if it’s just that you weren’t able to make that habit a priority. You should be able to tell if you’re being too hard on yourself about ‘failing’ at this new thing. There may be reasons for it, and reflection will show that. If you can be mindful of the shifts and habits you’re working on, and how many of these you might be doing simultaneously, then you may be kinder to yourself when it’s not all falling into place like expected. It just allows you to adjust and focus on one thing at a time.

Upon reflection, what habits shifts have you identified? I’d love for you to share your progress in the WellSorted Facebook Group so we can cheer each other on.

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