Humans are basically walking-talking habit performers. We would like to think we are generating organic and spontaneous behavior based off of our own free-will and interests, but the reality is that just about everything we do in this world, we do it, because we've repeated the action enough and it has become a comfortable habit.
The common idiom that we are "creatures of habit" is actually a scientific truth. We are habit creatures for better or worse. Whether it's stopping by the same coffee shop every morning for your special latte or always making a b-line for the couch to watch Netflix after work. We build our day out based on our habits that we have been tweaking and developing over a life time. Have you ever met an older person who claims to have eaten the same breakfast cereal every day since they were 12 years old? It's all about habits, folks.
As an owner and operator of a Tidy Tribe Cleaning, we are basically in the business of helping people who have built habits around doing other amazing things besides, ahem, cleaning. This is not a criticism to our clientele. We love our clients. Our clients are humans with lives and activities outside of house cleaning. They are doctors, parents, small business owners, teachers, plumbers, artists, and so much more. It is such an honor to serve a clientele who are also serving our community in so many different ways. That being said, there is probably something most of us could learn around developing better cleaning and tidying habits.
Hiring a house cleaner is a practical way to jump start that process. But what about all the days in between? We can't all afford to hire a daily cleaner, but we can teach ourselves some new tricks. Now, I won't go into a Mari Kondo spiel, but I will share some insight I have learned recently around developing healthy cleaning habits to feel better on the daily.
A few months ago I picked up The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I was looking for some self-help/business guru magic to get me inspired as we expanded our cleaning company. I was intrigued by what the author had to say about creating new habits (healthy or otherwise) and felt like it would connect well with the theme of understanding and conquering our own house cleaning habits. He explained that humans develop habits to simply fulfill their cravings. It seems obvious enough. To fulfill those cravings there must be three elements present; cue, routine, and reward. The simplest example would be hunger. I feel hungry (craving). I see the refrigerator (cue). I grab a yogurt from fridge and eat it (routine). I enjoy the taste and feel full (reward). It's pretty straight forward. But, what about trying to develop new healthy habits, such as a daily cleaning routine? It's really just a matter of inputting the value into the equation and setting it to repeat. Now let's try it through a cleaning lens. I don't want dirty dishes left in the sink (craving). I eat a meal and use a dish ( cue). I immediately rinse and put it in dishwasher or wash it right in my sink (routine). I feel satisfied by the simple act of having a clean sink or (even better) I treat myself with a piece of chocolate, turning on the TV, or ticking it off a to-do list (reward). Whatever reward works for you makes the magic equation toward you successfully building the habit. The idea is that you have to make the cleaning habit worth your while and then stick with it. Experts say it takes about one to three months for a new habit to form.
I know it can seem daunting to think about cleaning the whole house or revamping your family's daily routines. Instead, I would think of a couple of new habits you want to create. Rome wasn't built in a day. In fact, almost nothing besides cheap and flimsy stuff is ever built in just one day. Instead of doing a full overhaul of the whole house, pick a room or one or two elements in a room to develop better habits around.
A few months ago, I decided I would start every day by making my bed and end it by picking up clutter in only the living room. Not a huge deal, but overtime, those tasks that before seemed totally unattainable are now well, just habit.
Taking the first steps, like hiring a cleaner, or picking up on a weekly or nightly basis is just the beginning of a domino effect of good habits and healthy life-style. Try it out for a few months to see how it works for you and let me know what you think!