Day 14 - Fixing Your Broken Windows
Over ten years ago Brandon and I said, "I do". We moved into our small, but cute, little apartment in Westwood, New Jersey and everything was just perfect. We decided that no matter what our apartment looked like that we should always keep our bedroom clean and feeling like....a Haven...HA! We've continued to laugh at this statement throughout the years. On day two of apartment living is was obvious this wasn't going to be easy. Move after move, home renovation after home renovation our bedroom has always been the safe haven of...stuff. When we moved into our home we had to gut and redo the upstairs to make it livable, leaving us sleeping in the back room downstairs. Once upstairs, we shortly enjoyed our new bedroom before renovating the basement, bringing all of our storage up to our bedroom! Bins upon bins, boxes upon boxes, even shelving units were in our bedroom because we simply had nowhere else to put it. We have no attic and very little storage so while we renovated the basement, for an entire year, we slept in the middle of our earthly possessions! As you can imagine this wasn't the haven we expected and it wasn't very comfortable! Fortunately this isn't the case anymore but it took about four years before we completely ridded our bedroom of all the bins! They had become part of the bedroom, eyesores we didn't even notice any more.
Constant chaos and disorder in our lives may act as a broken window. The "broken window theory of crime prevention was introduced in the 1980s by social scientist who observed that when a community tolerates disorder and petty crimes, such as breaking of windows, graffiti, turnstile jumping or drinking in public, people are more likely to commit more serious crimes." Now whether this is true or not is up for debate but it's certainly true in my life! Because bins stacked up in my bedroom I was more likely not to keep up with laundry, I didn't care for the disorder of my dresser top, the order of my drawers, or emptying the trash. When guest come over, and I want to make the downstairs of our home look like we don't live there, I scoop everything up and throw it into our bedroom. Why not? It's already messy, whats a few more piles - broken window effect. If my bedroom were clean I may be more prompt at putting things away instead of scooping and dumping.
I have more "broken windows" in my life than energy to fix them all, but when I'm aware of the problem it's that much easier to find a solution and to create new and better habits. I want my habits to continually make me a better person, a happier person, someone who feels fulfilled and that she's living a fully engaged life. Princeton did a study that found that visual clutter reduces your ability to focus and process information. Don't you just love expert studies that back up what you think might be going on? While some say they work best in a messy, disorderly environment, I bet most of us would say a clear space equals a clear mind! Once a space like your bedroom, or office is clear, it's that much easier to keep it clean. Create a habit of cleaning it before you go to bed. Instead of scrolling facebook, spend the last ten minutes before bed just tidying up. The last ten minutes before work is over put your desk back in order. Maybe before you go upstairs turn the TV off ten minutes earlier and put dishes in the dishwasher and pack lunches. These small mundane tasks seem trivial and not important, but they will grow into a foundation of habits, helping you to achieve even larger goals. And! Now that I've said all that, I'm going to get up, and tidy up my bedroom a bit before I start another project! See, accountability and motivation are key. So, whatever your broken window is, remember, "first things first." But you must decide what is first for you.