Habits — we all have them. Are yours friends or foes?
On Dr. Oz’s morning television show in January, he shared his "7 Deadly Sins" — things that take years off our lives without us even knowing it. Here are seven deadly sins he calls "Deadly Habits":
1. Not stretching in the morning
2. Not eating breakfast
3. Running late
4. Mindless eating
5. Becoming a couch potato
6. Disconnecting from people
7. Not having a bedtime
As a takeoff from Dr. Oz’s "habits," here are mine, which I call "7 Ruinous Habits" — things that steal our time, order and efficiency and can ruin a perfectly good day without us even knowing it:
1. Enduring morning madness. Are mornings at your house a frenzied flurry? Is it a daily battle getting the children ready to go off to school or just getting yourself out the door in time? My younger son was very disorganized as a child. Every morning when he should have been in the garage waiting for his car-pool ride, he’d be searching and yelling, "Mom, have you seen my backpack?"
When I replied that I hadn’t and that his mornings would be so much smoother if he’d prepare the night before, his answer was, "I like it this way. It adds excitement to my life!" That may be so, but going off to school without your backpack or homework can ruin your day.
» Alternate habit: Before going to bed at night, get ready for tomorrow. That means having clothes picked out, backpacks and things to take ready to go, lunches made, and breakfast planned and partially prepared.
2. Jumping into the day. Many people start their day without a plan or purpose. They get things done, but in a hit-or-miss fashion, or they end up reacting to the demands of others.
» Alternate habit: Take a few minutes to get yourself organized. Know what you need to do and when you will do it. Your daily action plan will guide you through the day.
3. Losing track of time. Allowing simple tasks to take longer than warranted or letting interruptions and chitchat go on longer than necessary can seriously erode your time.
» Alternate habit: Stay on purpose and on schedule by referring often to your daily action plan. Be aware when things take longer than they should.
4. Running out of time. Ending the day with important things unfinished happens to just about everyone.
» Alternate habit: If something is important, do it first. As organizer Marcia Ramsland says, "You always have time for what you do first."
5. Putting up with mess. External clutter produces internal clutter, confusion and lack of clarity, not to mention time lost looking for things.
» Alternate habit: Daily put away, pass on, toss or shred what is no longer needed. Tidy up so you have a clean area for the next day.
6. Playing Scarlett O’Hara. "Tomorrow is another day" is true, but tomorrow isn’t meant to be a repository for today’s unfinished tasks.
» Alternate habit: Put on your Nike shoes and "just do it"! Get done today’s work today. Tomorrow will have its own load of to do’s.
7. Running on empty. It’s hard to work and feel well when you’re tired and moving and thinking in slow motion.
» Alternate habit: Replenish your energy tank by getting to sleep at a decent hour and arise refreshed.
In order not to let theses habits ruin a perfectly good day, work to change them one by one.
As Abigail Van Buren said, "A bad habit never disappears miraculously; it’s an undo-it-yourself project."
Ruth Wong owns Organization Plus. Her column runs the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.