Unfuck Your Habitat: Let’s Talk About Habits

SO MANY PEOPLE have done serious major unfucking lately, and IT’S AWESOME. I couldn’t be prouder. But once that initial high wears off, you need to focus on maintenance, or you’re going to end up right back where you started. I have a short list of things that, if you can make them habits, will prevent about 75% of the unfuckery that got you to the bad place to begin with. Bonus: most of these take one minute or less, and none are more than five minutes.
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  • Put your shoes and clothes away at the end of the day. Clothes in the hamper or hung back up, and shoes back in their boxes or wherever they live.
  • Dishes: don’t let them hit the bottom of the sink. Wash them right away, or if you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, put them right in there. If you do this after using three or four dishes, you won’t get the terrifying pile of cookware and crockery.
  • Wipe down the surfaces in your bathroom every morning.
  • Put stuff back. This sounds so dumb, but when you take something out to use it, put it back when you’re done instead of leaving it on the counter or floor or wherever.
  • TRASH GOES IN THE TRASH CAN. If you don’t have a trash can, hang a bag off a door handle. TRASH DOES NOT BELONG STREWN WILLY-NILLY ABOUT THE ROOM. It goes in the trash can/bag.
  • When you come home, whether from shopping or a trip or work or school, put your bags away right away, before you do anything else.
  • Do laundry at regular intervals. For some people it’s once a week, for others, it’s more. And most importantly, NOTHING STAYS IN THE DRYER OR BASKET. Everything gets put away before you move on.
  • One in, one out. Every time you buy something new to bring into your house, get rid of something that no longer serves a purpose.
  • Keep cleaning supplies in a handy place so you’re not trekking around when you need to clean something quickly. The more nearby the tools that you need, the more likely you are to use them.
  • NO PILES OF MAIL. If you bring it in the house, deal with it. Open it, sort it, or shred it. My shredder is right by the door so junk mail can get shredded before it has the chance to hit a counter. Also consider opting out of pre-approved credit card offers and asking companies to remove you from their mailing lists in order to reduce the amount of mail you get in the first place.


Other suggestions for quick habit changes that can be done in minutes and make a huge difference?

8 replies on “Unfuck Your Habitat: Let’s Talk About Habits”

I’m preeeeeety good at most of that, BUT.


Oh my god, my kitchen table. I live alone, in a small basement suite, and the kitchen table is right next to the front door. It has: a bowl of fruit, a can of pens/pencils, a basket with papers, a stack of books that I’m reading (yeah, I’m OCD like that), a stack of stuff to return to my friend and a couple of library books to return. There is enough clear space for no joke, one placemat, where I eat. Every once in a while I clean, and get access to about half the table. And this wouldn’t matter to me so much, but I like to sew occasionally, and I can’t do that like this!!!

BF (with whom I just moved in with full-time for real-real) has begun to turn over to my ways of unfucking. There are certainly occasions when we leave 3-4 dishes in the sink (I generally clean up as he’s heading the dinner-making, so sometimes our plates/drinking glasses get left over), but he’s seeing how important it is to go to bed with a clean-ish house. Or at elast a decluttered one!

When I feel particularly unmotivated, and I know that if I stop for the 10 minutes of the 20-10 routine i won’t get back up, I do a “7 minutes a room” sort of thing. It doesn’t work for heavy duty cleaning, but it’s just enough to tie up loose ends, spray down counters, and start a load of laundry. And “7 minutes a room” feels way better than “42 minutes of cleaning.”

And, because I can trick myself in such a way, I also respond well to rewards. Clean a room, get a cookie (literally). Or ‘if you clean, you can drink wine while doing so.’ This seems to work with me 90% of the time (there is, of course, the other 10% of the time where the one part of my brain says to the part of my brain trying to trick it ‘I can drink wine when I want, biotch.’)


Oi, totally with you on the rewarding.  I’ve just moved so I have a huge list of things (that I’ve tried to break down into reasonable stuff) with chores and tasks I need to remember mixed in with ‘set up new desk’.  My general reward is ‘for every two tasks I finish, I get to read a chapter in whatever book I’m poking at’.


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