The three little kittens, they lost their mittens, and didn’t know where to find them.
“Oh Mother Dear, we sadly fear, our mittens we have lost!”
“What! Lost your mittens? You naughty kittens! You know where your mittens go…
In your hat, in your sleeve, in your coat, in the closet.
In his first winter month of kindergarten, my son had lost 2 hats, 3 sets of mittens and both sets of boots. Only a few were recovered from the various Lost and Found boxes. I knew something had to change or pretty soon he’d be down to one black and one navy stretch glove and his little sister’s spare pom-hat.
What’s a mama cat to do?
We implemented the mitten habit. Every time. Like, E-V-E-R-Y time the boys come in the house, they take off their mittens, put them in their hat, stuff the hat in the sleeve and get the coat in the closet (usually on the floor, but you pick your battles around here.)
So, when it’s time gear-up and get out the door? The mittens are always in the hat in the sleeve in the coat in the closet. I didn’t even realize this was working until I saw my just-turned-three-year-old automatically carry out the ritual with no reminders. And saw my 16 month walk to her room, retrieve her coat and reach into the sleeve to get her hat.
After recently hearing Charles Duhigg speak at a conference and then reading his book The Power of Habit within 2 days, I was re-inspired to look for other places where developing intentional habits had the potential to make life much, much easier.
So try this exercise with me.
Think of something you lose the most. What are you always looking for?
Keys? Phone? Purse? Coat? Favorite Pen? Remote? The other shoe?
What habit/routine can you create so that you always put those things in the same place and therefore always know where to find them?
For example, my car keys live in 2 places when they’re not in the ignition of my minivan. When I’m home, they immediately go in the junk drawer. You know you have one too. Where else do you store the Box Tops for Education labels, mini screw drivers and random marbles? When I am ANYWHERE else, they go in the end pocket of my purse. Not in my coat pocket, jeans pocket, van console, desk drawer, or even the black-hole-main-pocket of my purse. Only one pocket. Now I don’t even think about, it: they’re just magically there every time I look!
So my challenge for you is to pick ONE habit. ONE thing you lose often and decide where that object is going to live at all times that it’s not in use. Then make a commitment to put it there every time. I don’t know if it will take you 7 days or 21 or a year, but you’ll know you’ve succeeded when you never think to youself “where is the [X]” because your feet automatically walk and your hand automatically reach for it…
and it’s there.