Happy New Year! Belatedly, since I took some time off through Christmas and New Year’s to enjoy and focus on my family… It was super relaxing and great to just unwind, but I’m excited for a fabulous and productive 2018. We’ve also been a bit derailed by the stomach bug going around, but seem to be at the tail end of it (fingers crossed). Warning: while this is and always will be primarily an interiors blog, this is one of those more random posts I mentioned here, about bad habits to break. It’s always a bit scary deviating from the interiors world, but I want to be more open about other thoughts swimming around in my brain too. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week!
Have you read Confessions of a Domestic Failure? There are a couple of main characters in the book. One of them is a blogger who has her life completely together and is constantly giving advice on how you can have a perfect life, just like her. This is NOT one of those posts. The other main character is a new mom who is a complete and utter mess, a total domestic failure. While I like to think I am a little more put together than her, this post comes from a place much closer to the second gal than the first. I’m going to be pretty transparent about a few different areas I need to improve in. And while I know New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap, mostly because a lot of people don’t follow through, I personally believe that it’s better to set a goal and miss it than to never try at all. You’re guaranteed to get a lot closer to reaching a goal if you at least try!
To that end, I’ve spent a bit of time this last week reflecting over 2017 and planning for 2018, and I’ve come up with a list of 10 bad habits to break in 2018. The only true way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, so I’ve included the list of good behaviors I’ll be aiming for here too. Hopefully a few will strike a chord with you too, and if you have any helpful tips for me, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Next week tune back in to read the more interiors focused Bad DIY Habits to Break in the New Year.
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Bad Habits to Break in the New Year, and Good Ones to Replace Them
If you’re anything like me, multiple times a day you find yourself with your phone in your hand, checking your text messages or instagram notifications, without even consciously making the decision to pick up your phone. This mindless distraction can take a huge toll on family life, work life, and overall efficiency. One of my goals for 2018 is to be a better time manager, and I believe that starts with being intentional about technology use. Your restrictions may look different than mine, but for me that means turning off home screen notifications for most apps and turning my phone face down when I’m playing with my kids, talking to Adam, or trying to get work done. This is an area I really want to improve on, so if you have any tips, please share!
2. Letting Mail Pile Up -> Dealing with Mail Immediately
When I get home after picking up my kids from school, I usually grab the mail and set it on the table, then help them do their backpack chores. I always intend to get back to the mail, but before I know it I have 3-4 days worth of mail piled up on the table. I resolve this year that I will deal with the mail immediately, shredding the junk and sorting the bills and stuff that needs to be filed (filing immediately too!).
3. Leaving Dishes in the Sink -> Rinsing Dishes and Putting Them in the Dishwasher Immediately
When you let dishes pile up in the sink, it seems like it takes forever to rinse them off and get them in the dishwasher. If you make a habit of doing it immediately, it’s just a few minutes here and there, everything looks much nicer, and it doesn’t feel like such a hassle. The one glitch I’ve found in this plan is when the dishwasher is full and I have to feed the kids and then quickly hustle them out the door and don’t have an extra five minutes to empty the dishwasher before leaving. As long as I do it fairly quickly when I return, this doesn’t seem to be a huge issue, but when I get behind and the dishes start to pile up, that’s when the trouble starts. Any suggestions for avoiding this?
4. Driving with Your Phone Out -> Keeping Your Phone Out of Sight in the Car
Confession: I never text while driving (although the one and only time I’ve ever been pulled over was for texting at a stoplight; PSA: that’s illegal too… Who knew?!), but I don’t have perfect phone/driving habits. Maybe you have more self control than I do, but when my phone sits next to me in the car and I hear that ding of a new text message coming in, it takes a lot of will power to keep myself from glancing down at the screen. Since you only have a certain amount of willpower available to you each day (if you want to learn more about this concept, read The One Thing by Gary Keller), I need to minimize as many temptations as I can. I’ve found that tucking my phone in my bag makes it so much easier to ignore my phone. I do have my phone piped in through my car, so when it rings I can just answer it through my dashboard. If you don’t have that option, I know there are bluetooth headsets where you can hit a button to answer. If you stream music and audio through your car like we do, either set a playlist before you leave the house and listen through, or give your phone to your kids to control, like I frequently do.
5. Skipping Dental Floss -> Flossing Daily
While I have religiously brushed my teeth at least twice a day my entire life, the art of fitting in flossing has taken me years to learn. It always seemed like such a hassle, but my dental hygienist gave me the best tip! Buy the flossing sticks, and floss while you are driving. Having a bag of flossers in the car is a life changer! (Ha, sort of ironic that the last item was something you shouldn’t do in the car, and here I am telling you one point later to floss there.)
6. Leaving 5 Minutes Late -> Leaving 5 Minutes Early
For almost my entire life, I have run a few minutes behind. The. Worst. I feel awful when I’m late, I hate when people have to wait for me, it stresses me out, it’s just all around a terrible habit… I realized a few years back that I had been focused on when I need to arrive somewhere, but I always underestimate the amount of time it takes to get there, making me habitually late. When I work backwards using a realistic estimate of drive time, and then focus on the time I need to leave, that drastically improves my ability to get out the door on time. Adding five minutes buffer time in to get there a few minutes early is always smart too. This is still a work in progress, but at least I’ve discovered what works for me!
7. Snoozing the Alarm Clock or Setting it Too Late -> Allow Time Margin In Your Morning
I am not a morning person. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that’s the understatement of the century. My parents were business owners who set their own schedule, and they trained me to sleep in. That habit has STUCK. To this day, if I have a day off, I can easily sleep until 11:15am. No problem. However, sleeping in is no longer a luxury I can afford, since my kids attend a private Christian school that starts at 7:40 am. Yes, you read that right. It. Is. Early. I used to set my alarm with barely enough time to drag myself out of bed before waking my kids up and getting them ready, and I did not allow enough time in the mornings, causing stress for ALL of us. What I’ve realized is that setting the alarm for earlier, giving myself an extra 10-15 minutes in the morning, makes the entire day run more smoothly. AND I don’t even miss the few extra minutes of sleep. Honestly, is there a big difference between 6:20am and 6:35am? It’s all too early, so I might as well get up, and as my husband and I like to say, “Punch the day in the face!”
8. Going Too Long Between Meals -> Eat at Regular Intervals to Encourage Good Choices
I don’t know about you, but when my blood sugar drops, I get seriously hangry. Arabella has the same issue, and “hangry” has been one of her favorite words since she was about three years old. It’s word choices like that that caused my sister to dub her “the threenager.” Anyway, back to food… When I get super hungry, that’s when I tend to make terrible food choices, like eating Christmas cookies for lunch. I may or may not have done that recently. 😉 If I take mental note of when I’m starting to get hungry and plan ahead, I make way healthier food choices. Meal planning, another domestic ability I don’t seem to possess, takes it to a whole new level.
9. Leaving Emails in Your Inbox -> Cleaning Out Emails Right Away
I have four email accounts that I use regularly. One for each of my businesses (one includes personal stuff such as emails from school), a junk mail and mailing list account, and one for work related junk mail and mailing lists. It gets to be a lot, especially considering that just one of my email accounts brings in about 150-200 emails/day. Side note: I need to get off some of the lists I’m on! When I clean my inboxes out daily, everything feels much more manageable. But when I let it go for a few days, I get overwhelmed and just want to ignore all of them. True confession: On New Year’s Day, I had over 7,000 unread emails between all of my accounts. I finally gave up, marked them all as read, and have been managing them daily since.
10. Hanging On To Stuff You Don’t Need or Use -> Decluttering Frequently
I am the queen of hanging on to toys because they were a gift, clothes because I might wear them someday, old decor items I want to repurpose… The list goes on and on. When we moved into our house four years ago, I was amazed at how much storage space we had. But I’ve somehow managed to fill it all up! I think effective decluttering systems vary by personality, but I know Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, while slightly too New Age for me, has a ton of valuable info, from practical advice down to coaching on mindset shifts. I read it when it looked like a move to Texas was in our near future, and I enthusiastically began purging. However, when we opted to stay in Minnesota, I lost my motivation to declutter and fell back in to old habits. I’m excited to read it again, declutter my house, and then continually declutter to keep it that way! I won’t pretend to have any brilliant ideas here… Just read the book. 😉
Do you have any other bad habits to break that should be on this list? I’m sure there are a bunch more I could have included! Share your top ones with me in the comments below!