Principled habits


I’m a messy person, and deep down I think that’s unacceptable. I want to change. But it’s hard.

It feels easier to just leave things all over the place. It feels like such a pain in the ass to fold the laundry and put it away. It feels so unnecessary to emtpy the dishwasher. I know where everything is on my desk, even if it’s in chaos, so what does the chaos matter?

I don’t know what the objective truth is, but I’m ready to take a general stance that order is better than chaos. It’s a bold stance, I know. Hold the presses! This just in: chaos is bad. More at 11:00, but now: a recent study concludes that candy is delicious.

I have a friend who is also a generally messy person. His strategy for dealing with it is to develop habits which mean that no mess ever happens in the first place. Not having the opportunity to make a mess means no cleaning up.

This may be of limited utility as a strategy if you live in a situation that you don’t fully control - for instance, if you have a toddler around. But it’s a good principle to adopt.

I’m starting by trying to adopt the habit of washing my dishes as soon as they’re dirty. This doesn’t take nearly as long as it feels like it should, and it fits nicely into downtime between other activities, like waiting for something to cook.

Even this habit is hard. Dishes pile up quickly. But good habits don’t come automatically. They take work. That’s okay too.