It’s time to talk about daily habits. I know. You may be PURPOSELY reading blog posts about decluttering because you don’t WANT to think about daily habits.
Or maybe you’re reading my books first because you plan to get your house decluttered and then start maintaining it.
I mean . . . is there really any point in trying to maintain a home that’s cluttered?
Yes. There is. In fact, I tell people that while decluttering and daily habits are equally important, daily habits are the most important.
That doesn’t make any mathematical sense, but I don’t really care.
You have to start somewhere, and daily habits are the best place to start. While daily habits are more difficult in a cluttered home, decluttering won’t make a lasting impact without daily habits to maintain any progress you make.
And there’s another (HUGE) benefit to starting with daily habits: It is through establishing daily habits that you will begin to understand how MUCH stuff you actually need.
When you’re not keeping things under control, you can’t have any idea of how many of an item you actually need.
I call it the vicious cycle of excess.
I have a favorite wooden spoon. It has a 12-inch handle and two black burn marks . . . and I love it.
But for years, I didn’t know I loved it.
I had too much stuff.
A little over three years ago, I began ruthlessly purging the excess from our home while also developing habits to help me keep the house in order.
Habits like . . . . washing the dishes every night.
I was cooking supper one night and grabbed my long-handled wooden spoon. I thought, “I love this spoon!”
Then it hit me . . . I had been using the same spoon to cook supper almost every night for months. For me, this was big.
I used to let dishes pile up in the sink. I could, because I had so many dishes that I was able to go, ahem . . . several days without washing them.
Even still, I always thought I needed more. You can’t have too many dishes, right?
Excess kills appreciation.
This is obvious when you see it in others. A teenager who has been given everything has no appreciation for a new sportscar, and promptly wrecks it. A couple buys toy after toy (jetskis, motorhomes, swimming pools) but doesn’t have time to use them all.
I’ve finally accepted that it’s the same with wooden spoons . . . and with cups, plates, clothes, toys, etc.
How the vicious cycle works:
If I found wooden spoons at a garage sale for only five cents . . . I grabbed five!
For a quarter!!!
When I owned five wooden spoons, I didn’t have to wash one until I’d used all five. But if I waited five days, my sink was overflowing with dirty dishes. At that point, the thought of washing them all overwhelmed me.
Suddenly, five no longer seemed like enough. So, the next time I saw wooden spoons at a garage sale, I bought five more. Then, I could go 10 days without doing the dishes. But by the time I dirtied all 10, dishes were covering my counters and my family was left searching for paper plates.
At that point, I was paralyzed by the hugeness of the mess, and I began to despise all of the “stuff” . . . and myself.
I used to think that those who prized a certain wooden spoon were more obsessed with stuff than I was.
Turns out, an appreciated item isn’t “stuff.”
It becomes “stuff” when it gets lost in a mass of similar (all unappreciated) items.
Daily maintenance was necessary to bring me to a true understanding of our family’s needs . . . and to help me fall in love with that awesome spoon!