Aug 13, 2019

How to Hack Your Habits Using Physical Space

One of my all-time favorite aphorisms is that Victorian era gem that shines from its facets of order, efficiency, and thrift:

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

I consistently use this idea to recalibrate the way I see my home and studio. My wife and I are work-from-home freelancers; we're in our house 90% of the week and share it with our very active toddler and three cats, working and playing and cooking three meals a day, so we make a lot of mess. Without direct intervention, entropy reigns supreme, with total anarchy its final goal. Thus I constantly ask myself when I put something down: Is that where it lives? If the answer is no, put it away for real.

Well, let's piggyback off the idea of "a place for everything" to deliberately use our physical space to make good habits.




In short: want to make something important in your life? 

Give it a dedicated space. 

A place where it, and ONLY it, resides.

Perhaps you're like me and you've tried this once—with your workout gear. So instead of shoving it in the bottom of your drawer and giving yourself the obstacle of digging for it when the time comes to hit the gym, you've deliberately laid it out on top of your dresser.

You're off to a great start—but instead of limiting this idea of dedicated space to one application, what would happen if you designed your entire home based on your priorities?

Actually, you're already living this by default; think about the arrangement of your square footage. Eating is necessary, so you have a dedicated space for food: the kitchen. Same thing goes with sleeping: you not only have one dedicated space, your bedroom, but also a specific piece of furniture where you pass out every night.

The simple suggestion is that within those macro zones, let's dedicate some micro stations based on what habits you want to create. Decided to finally launch off into the great unknown of your first novel? Set up a small desk for your laptop, notepad, and pencils. Want to start eating healthy? Place your vegetables at center stage in your fridge instead of letting neglect turn your crisper drawer into a compost bin. Want to decrease your phone zombie hours? Build or buy a phone charging dock and leave it there during certain hours.

As you consistently adjust your living space to sync up with your desires, you'll find that your habits stay calibrated with less effort as you ease into efficiency.

And if you're nowhere near that beautiful zone, don't fret—I'm mostly writing this to myself!



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Mindy on Aug 31, 2019:

I love this idea & I've got an entire rolling cart dedicated to be used as a charging station. I just haven't been using it. Lately, I hate how I get sucked into my phone so I will think of my charging station as my cell phones time out corner. Maybe that'll help. Really appreciate your ideas. Thank you.

Brian A Lund on Aug 19, 2019:

Not only to yourself...! I agree 100% but my problem is getting the rest of the household to play along. I try to instill in my family "if you can't find it, you might as well not have it."

Art Denney on Aug 18, 2019:

Or the in-organized’s axiom ... “A place for everything, and everything in a place.”

Good article, and good reminder.

Abhijit Dey on Aug 21, 2018: