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Stay Organized by Building Good Habits: Learnings from Atomic Habits

By: Staff Published: September 5, 2023

“Being more organized” is often on the New Year’s resolution list for many – but staying organized year ’round can be a major struggle. There are plenty of tips to help people keep their spaces tidy, but juggling work, family and the countless daily responsibilities in life make it challenging to master the discipline it takes to achieve these tasks. Instead, we offer a different strategy: one rooted in the principles of James Clear’s bestseller Atomic Habits.

In his book, Clear introduces the concept that small actions help you build the habits that lead to long-lasting and outstanding results. Taking these steps unleashes the potential to make organization in your life easy and intuitive. We’re sharing an overview of the four laws shared in this personal development book and how you can apply these to achieve your goals.

The First Law Is Make It Obvious

Clear begins with a simple practice to create new habits called Habit Stacking. What this means is attaching a new habit to a current habit. You can write these down in this format to help set your intentions: “After I (current habit), I will (new habit).”

Example: If you sit down to drink your coffee in the morning, you could write, “After I drink my coffee, I will write my to-do list.”

Making habits obvious and visible helps you be consistent.

The Second Law Is Make It Attractive

By pairing pleasant experiences with new habits, you create a motivational ritual that makes new habits easier to practice. In the book, Clear discusses pairing an act that you want to do with an act that you need to do.

Example: If you enjoy watching a TV show, set yourself up with the task of folding laundry while you watch a new episode.

Another helpful way to increase the attractiveness of a new habit is to be part of a culture where that behavior is normal, practiced or celebrated. This could mean listening to a motivational podcast, reading a weekly blog with helpful tips (like this one!) or joining an Instagram channel hosted by a professional organizer.

If you struggle to organize your closet or maybe your office, creating a space that you love and enjoy is another way to make these organizational habits more attractive. A beautiful closet system, like our BrightWood system, can inspire you to keep it looking its best.

reach-in wood closet

A closet that perfectly fits your wardrobe will help you keep everything in its place.

The Third Law Is Make It Easy

This law covers a variety of practices that are vital to ensuring your success. It’s human nature to want to take the easiest route to an end goal, so reducing the number of steps between you and your new habit is crucial. This includes priming your environment to make those actions easier.

Example: If you have a hard time keeping your entryway at home organized, designate a storage area to make it easy for you to store your items as soon as you get home and avoid building up clutter that will be more difficult and time-consuming to address over time.

Or, if finding shoes to wear in the morning is a challenge, demarcate an area to make your shoes visible and choose your pair the night before. This will make selecting a pair an easier task and you’ll avoid worrying about it in the morning. ClosetMaid’s Revolution Storage Ottoman is a perfect and stylish solution to help you in this problem area.

shoe storage ottoman

Add shoe storage and seating to your closet with the Revolution Storage Ottoman.

The Fourth Law Is Make It Satisfying

This is all about using reinforcement and celebrating your success each step of the way. Clear says, “Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.”

Example: If organizing your pantry on Saturday morning is your new habit, treat yourself to your favorite snack when you’re done.

kitchen pantry wire shelving

Make snack time easier and more fun by organizing your pantry shelves

He also shares the importance of using a habit tracker to keep yourself accountable and motivate you not to break the chain. The book emphasizes that building good habits takes time and practice, and that one cannot be discouraged by failure. Instead, follow this rule: Never miss doing a habit twice.

These laws and practices can act as a guide to helping you reach your organizational goals. Whether it’s making more time for your loved ones or your favorite hobby, being more productive at work or reducing stress in your life, it’s important for you to set your intentions to encourage you on the journey of building good habits.

Remember, it’s about progress over perfection and don’t forget to celebrate the small wins along the way.

Start organizing