A plastic surgeon in the 1950s, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, suggested that it takes a number of weeks for a patient to get used to any work they’ve had done. His observations, in addition to lengthy research, led him to write a book titled, ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’, in which he stated that it takes “a minimum of about 21 days” for the average person to form a habit.
What self-help enthusiasts who were disappointed in their inability to form or break habits in 21 days didn’t realise was, his statement was merely an observation in his environment and not something that’s applicable to the average person.
In 2009, a study by a health psychologist researcher at the University College London, Phillippa Lally, revealed that it takes the average person 66 days to form a habit. But the number can be a lot less – 18 days, or more – 254 days, and it depends on the individual, willpower, circumstances, kind of habit, resources and more.
If you’re like me, the thought of forming a new habit in 66 days or potentially more can be very overwhelming as compared to the disproved 21 days. So I devised a plan to make small changes in my life, and believe it or not, I started to see improvements sooner than I expected.
One of the easiest ways to declutter your surroundings and have a consistently clean home is to have a place for everything. Use multifunctional tables, place keys on hooks, hang your pots and pans, make use of mason jars, reorganise your closet, donate or sell items, clean your bedroom among others.
Don’t rush. Remember, it takes time to form a habit so start small. Try two sets of 10 reps of jumping jacks, butt kicks, crunches, squats, push ups, burpees, mountain climbers, plank, etc. You can find simple living room workouts on Pinterest that can help you to get used to exercising daily.
Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say no. Don’t stretch yourself too thin for the pleasure of others. You have to learn to be direct. Swap “no problem” with “it’s not a good time for me”. And “yes” with “I’ll think about it” – if you truly need some time to evaluate. Saying yes to everybody around you can induce stress and anxiety which can lead to headaches, depression, high blood pressure and even heart failure.
Before you can set priorities, you need to identify your goals. Categorise things by urgency, importance, wants, and needs. Establishing priorities will help you improve your time management and organisational skills.
Finding consistency through morning or evening routines is the best way to save time and energy. It also helps to identify repetitive actions and makes a way to plan ahead.