If you are like most people, you treat home maintenance like you treat your health; you are careless and ignorant until something goes wrong and makes you to take notice. No restraint on sugar consumption until the doctor tells you you’re diabetic. You ignore to clean your computer until one day it won’t turn on and you have to call the computer mechanic. Whichever it is, the result is more expenses and stress.
Surely, you know the importance of being organized and cautious. You know that a balanced diet is important, and that air conditioned should be cleaned periodically. You know that eating vegetables and fruits helps maintain weight, and that the you should vacuum the carpet regularly. But You still choose to ignore such advice out of habit.
Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. We, modern humans, are accustomed to a hectic lifestyle full of distractions. It’s easy to lose track of things.
However, we know that some people are more organized than others. They seem to know some secret to self discipline that others don’t know about. They exercise regularly, they work harder than others, they get everything done on time, and they can look at a tasty treat and still walk away because they know that it wouldn’t be healthy. They seem superhuman.
So what’s their secret?
Habit. The secret is habit.
Habits are more than nail biting and brushing your teeth every morning. In fact, if you pay attention, you’ll see that all the activities you do all day, they are just a bunch of habits.
Habits direct your life and decisions. You think you decide everything with free will, but really, your habits are the ones that decide for you. It’s 6 p.m. and time for your daily TV show, so ,without even consciously thinking about it, turn on the television everyday. You pass any KFC outlet or a mall, and you want to go in. Every time you turn on your internet browser, you involuntarily open your Facebook or Twitter account. Habits.
In doing all this, you are not making conscious decisions. Your habits take over.
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, explains how habits work. According to the book, at first, any new skill you try, it takes effort to perform even the basic steps. You have to be conscious of your every move. Then when you practice it, you get increasingly better, and don’t have to put as much mental effort.
I remember learning how to touch type. At first, it was awkward, slow and boring, but as practised it for a few days, I started getting better. In a month, I could touch type fairly fast. And now that I have learned it. It saves me the effort of looking at the keyboard while typing and also saves a lot of time.
Same rule applies with other things. At first when you try some new skill, it takes mental effort and willpower. But as you practice and repeat it, it becomes a habit. You do it automatically.
Habits work in three steps: There is a cue which triggers the urge—you carry out the routine—and you get a reward.
The first step is to find a cue. Cues are triggers. For instance waking up in the morning is your cue for brushing. It’s a routine. In case of home maintenance, we’ll use a planner or calender to set up cues.
You will use a calender or planner to make note of your plans. All you have to do is write down your plans next to the dates and regularly keep checking the calender for upcoming plans.
Say on you calender next to Monday you wrote “Clean the swimming pool.” Now when you check your calender daily (that’s your cue.), you’ll know what the job is.
Your routine is to carry out the day’s task. In this case, cleaning the swimming pool.
You reward: a clean swimming pool.
If you do this regularly for a month, it’ll turn into a habit, and you’ll find yourself more disciplined and organised. And as you get used to getting satisfied with your work, you’ll desire and look forward to doing it.
This also helps with planning because, if you check the calender regularly, it’ll remind you your plans and you can arrange your future plans according to them. Often, we end up postponing things because we find something more important to do, other plans take priority. But if you have a fixed schedule, you can make plans according to it.
If you have a smartphone, you can use the calender app instead of a real calender. It also has a reminder option which reminds you of your plans. The application is quite simple to use and comes pre-installed in most smart-phones. The application can also by synced to the gmail account, so even if you’re using a different device, it’ll still store your reminders.
If you want, you can also use the Google calender. It’s free, and there’s a text notification option. Google will send you messages on your mobile phone to remind you. Amazing, right?
So, good luck with using cutting edge research to get home maintenance done.