How do we know if we’re winning at developing the discipline of putting things away? The easiest way is probably to recognize when we miss the mark so we can course correct. Failure in the area of putting things away can look like keeping items out just in case. Is it possible we don’t put things away because we’re indecisive? Or do we keep items out because we’re multi-tasking instead of focusing well? No matter whether you think having a cluttered area to work in sparks creativity or not, I have landed on the observation that I’m personally more productive when only the items I need for a specific task are before me.
Here are some areas in my family’s life where we tend to leave things out:
- Laundry: I’m good at starting a load in the wash, but putting it away is another story.
- Dishes: Same story as laundry.
- It’s not uncommon for a craft to be started before bedtime in our home then left out until the next day…or two.
- Items that are carried into our cars are sometimes not taken into the house or thrown away when we return home.
- Toys: Need I say more? We’ve identified homes for them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are put away.
While I struggle with others’ messes that remain in our home from time to time, any change I want to see has to begin with me. There are a few areas I’ve taken note of lately where I’m doing well at putting things away – my makeup and hairdryer after I get ready in the morning, and resetting my desk to order before I leave my office at day’s end. Assessing why the discipline of putting thing away in these areas helped motivate me to identify other areas I could improve in, too. I think there are two reasons I succeed in putting my makeup and hairdryer away and resetting my desk in the evening:
1) I am the only person responsible for these tasks, so they get done. (Translation: I cannot control my family members’ choices about putting things away, but I can control mine for the most part.)
2) I know I’ll be back the next day to do the same task and want to have a smooth start. (Reason: The reward of beginning a routine task without a mess before me is motivating.)
How We Lead Our Kids to Develop the Discipline of Putting Things Away
One approach we use in our home to help develop the discipline of putting things away if the 50 cent basket. The first night we launched this initiative at home, we showed everyone our designated 50 cent basket. Everyone knows where it’s located. Each of us does a scan of the living area and kitchen before bedtime to see if we’ve left anything out. Items found by Mom or Dad after the kids’ bedtime go into the 50 cent basket and can be retrieved for…you guessed it…50 cents. If items stay in the basket a long time and are not desired, they are donated or recycled. If one of our kids doesn’t have 50 cents, we choose a task at home they can complete to earn the item back.
Why develop the discipline of putting things away? Each time we leave things out we avoid making decisions. Narrowing options for our next task is hard. Allowing ourselves to be distracted by something more fun than putting things away means we move on without recognizing a task is as complete as it can be at this time.
Now it’s your turn. Identify which tasks you’re already experiencing success in putting things away. Determine what motivates you, then work on forming the habit of putting things away in one of the areas in which you’d like to improve.
Which tasks would you like to get better about putting things away when they are done?
Would you like some help on your journey to becoming more disciplined? I’d love to work with you. Take a look at my client services page.