Stop Trying to Change Your Habits: Change Your Habitat Instead

updated Nov 1, 2020
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(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

Every day, our readers share their happy, healthy home secrets in the comments, sparking discussions and inspiring each other—and us—to try new things and see from different perspectives. And every once in a while, there’s a comment that particularly stands out and really gets us thinking.

In this case, we’re loving this comment from Apartment Therapy reader DList on a post we titled “I Can’t Keep My House Clean, What’s Wrong With Me?

In addition to the common messy-home ails our author Shifrah offered up in the post, DList wanted to add one more, along with a solidly memorable lesson for all of us. If you’re struggling to keep your home mess-free, this is a great way to reframe your brain and actually fix the problem:

“Great article but, you missed one: You’re Putting Things In the Wrong Spot.

Things have a place that they gravitate to. They just do. I swear. Usually, it’s where they get used but, not always and it’s not always wherever you THINK it might belong either.

One thing is for certain though: it’s always, always, always where you are constantly coming across it. So, if you constantly keep finding yourself coming across your shoes in the middle of the living room floor instead of that carefully designed bedroom closet, or your keys keep turning up in the freezer instead of the pretty bowl you bought for your landing strip, change it. Put some nice shelving in the living room or a pretty magnetic hook on the fridge and be done with it.

In other words: stop trying to change your habit and just change your habiTAT. Because, the honest truth is that if you haven’t managed to get yourself to put those items where you THINK they should go by now, chances are, you just ain’t gonna do it. So, not only are you driving yourself crazy but you’re making your place messier. After all, you’re wasting an awful lot of precious time that you COULD be using to clean other things constantly shuffling those same items back and forth. Every. Single. Day.

So, put items where they want to go in your house and not where other folks keep them because, well, it turns out- you aren’t them.

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

Did you catch the gem in there? “Stop trying to change your habit and just change your habitat.”

The truth is, it’s not always easy to keep everything neat and tidy all the time. Even the cleanest and most organized of us can let things fall by the wayside when life gets in the way. Sometimes you get busy, sometimes you’re dealing with difficult things, and sometimes you just want to relax a little without your entire home falling into disarray. In any case, homekeeping can be a challenge.

You’ve probably tried more times than you can count to fix your messy habits (are you guilty of tossing your coat on the couch when you walk in instead of hanging it up in your bedroom closet? Right there with ya!) but the key might actually be in embracing them and finding a way to make your home work with them. Rather than trying to force yourself to put your coat away every day, maybe having a hook to hang it on when you walk in—or even a stylish rack to hang it on in the living room (bonus: this is handy for when guests come over!) would help you be a little more tidy and make your life a whole lot easier.

It’s like the example DList gives about shoes—if you plan to store them in your bedroom closet but you most often take them off and leave them in the living room, try creating a stylish spot to store them in your living room instead. It’s about doing what works for you, not what works for someone else or what you think you should be doing.

If you want your home to stay neat and organized, it might just time to be a little more honest with yourself. Really think about your habits and find ways to change your home to suit your needs. You’re not the problem—your home just isn’t set up in a way that truly works for you.