Five Minute Daily Home Habits with Life Changing Results
How I make small changes to achieve big goals.
THE DREAM: Looking around my Instagram-worthy living space, everything is in its place. Not a bit of dust on any surface, nor a dish in the sink. The laundry is fluffed and folded and fresh linens lay on my perfectly made bed.
THE REALITY: Looking around my hot mess express of a living space, random items that I didn’t even know I owned are scattered about. Dust is on virtually every surface and dishes are always in the sink. The laundry is in the dryer and piled up in the closet and on the back of a chair or two. Fresh linens? Girl, please.
“Living with three pets and a husband, who all seem to possess the nightmarish skill of creating messes out of thin air, made me question whether my mission of keeping my home consistently clean was a foolish one.”
I read an Apartment Therapy article a while back that documented the author’s weeklong challenge of sticking to Good Housekeeping’s recommended cleaning schedule for a 1950s housewife. Of course, as one would expect, a 1950s housewife following the word of Good Housekeeping was expected to keep her home (and herself) pristine at all times, although she was graciously permitted to indulge in some “family time” during the weekends.
I initially found the aforementioned cleaning schedule mildly panic inducing (and the thought of keeping myself pristine looking at all times just made me chuckle). However, that cleaning schedule inspired me to think about a possible solution to my neverending battle of keeping up with house chores.
No matter how hard I try, it feels impossible to keep my home clean and organized for longer than 10 minutes at a time. Living with three pets and a husband, who all seem to possess the nightmarish skill of creating messes out of thin air, made me question whether my mission of keeping my home consistently clean was a foolish one. Still, I felt compelled to push forward.
“Before I knew it, the day was over, the sink was empty, and I had spent less than five minutes doing dishes.”
I knew that it would be difficult for me to wrap my mind around an hour-long daily cleaning routine, or even one that required half of that time. Fortunately, I am married to a man who devours self-improvement books and articles – and supplies me with the highlights. One such highlight: BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits.
Essentially, tiny habits are very small behavioral changes that you can make to achieve virtually any goal. The theory is that if you attach a tiny habit to a routine you already have in place, you will steadily move closer and closer to achieving your goal, without the need for an intense level of motivation. The reason tiny habits are so effective is because they revolve around routines that are already a part of your life. Consequently, when you pair a tiny habit with your already established routine, every time you begin said routine, it activates your new tiny habit.
For example, one of my goals is to keep my kitchen clean. A simple enough goal, but difficult to execute, you know, because life. The tiny habit I put in place was literally just to open my dishwasher door. Yes, you read that right. Keeping my kitchen clean throughout the day was a bit of a lofty goal, but keeping my kitchen sink clean seemed more manageable. I attached my tiny habit to my daily morning routine of entering the kitchen to pour my morning coffee. Therefore, over the last month, I have entered the kitchen every morning to pour my morning coffee and before doing so, I have opened the dishwasher door.
My single tiny habit set me up to empty the dishwasher every morning without even thinking about it, seeing as once I opened the dishwasher door, I mechanically began putting my clean dishes away. Furthermore, after finishing my coffee, I put my dirty coffee cup into the dishwasher because it had already been prepped to do its dishwashing job.
I then continued to place any dirty dish I made in the dishwasher throughout the remainder of the day. My husband took notice of the empty sink about 90% of the time and somehow my tiny habit magically tricked him into putting his dirty dishes in the dishwasher, as well! While I made dinner, I integrated my new dirty dish = dishwasher routine. Before I knew it, the day was over, the sink was empty, and I had spent less than five minutes doing dishes.
“My clean kitchen sink provides a “she has her life together” vibe and I think people have taken notice.”
For a month now, my kitchen sink has never had more than two dishes in it at any given time. (That number would go down to zero dishes, if it weren’t for the 10% of the time my tiny habit failed to trick my husband.) Sure, I use pots and pans sometimes that I need to hand wash, but even taking that into account, I still spend an average of five minutes a day, per week, doing the dishes.
Having a round the clock clean kitchen sink has been life changing. No, girl, I’m not being dramatic. I am able to walk into my kitchen at any moment and make a meal without dealing with a sink full of dirty dishes. If friends or family show up to my house on short notice, I don’t have to deal with that sink full of dirty dishes anxiety. My clean kitchen sink provides a “she has her life together” vibe and I think people have taken notice. It’s boosted my confidence, really.
Everybody knows that if your dishes are put away, your kitchen is at least 80% clean. On a grading scale, 80% is above average; therefore, I would argue that I have met my goal. Now that my first tiny habit has successfully enabled me to achieve goal number one, I am moving on to my next goal: eliminating my embarrassingly large pile of dirty laundry — for good.