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The Muscle Memory of Habit

I was playing in a duet on an instrument that was not my principle instrument. Thankfully, we were playing from the balcony and I could be nervous with some invisibility. I practiced and practiced and the day we performed, I looked at my partner with wide eyes in the middle of the duet and mouthed, “Did we already take the repeat?” I honestly couldn’t remember if we were almost done or if we still had to repeat a certain portion of the music. My fingers were moving on their own while my brain was catching up. Praise the Lord it all went off well, but the muscle memory in my fingers carried the day.

We all have things in our life that we do without thinking at all - those “shampoo, rinse, repeat” moments. They are habits that are so engrained, we don’t give them a second thought.

Just as we once learned those habits, we can learn others that will make our life easier if they are on auto pilot. What one thing would you want to do “by heart”? Is it unloading the dishwasher? Making the bed? Folding the clothes? Maybe it’s putting the mail in the same spot every day. Leaving keys or your everyday shoes by the door. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but what would make a difference in how your home works for you, instead of against you.

If you can’t figure out what to change, ask yourself, “What do I spend time constantly looking for?” Are you constantly asking, "Where are my keys? purse? wallet? shoes?" Are you paying late fees on your bills because you don’t remember where you put them? These constant refrains may be the areas that could use your attention. (If it’s a paperwork issue, see my blog posts for more detailed help here: and here:

If you need to get your kids involved, call it an experiment (rather than a forced new habit). Make it a team effort. Create a fun sign: "This family has gone ____ days putting their shoes by the door!" If you do this, be sure to give several grace marks for everyone. You don't want your four your old to feel responsible for breaking the family shoe streak. Remember, we seek progress, not perfection. Give small rewards for each week they keep the experiment going, and perhaps a bigger reward when you reach the end of the experiment. Which brings me to my next point.How long does it take for this to become muscle memory?

The internet tells us that it takes 66 days to form a habit, so don’t get discouraged if after the mythical 21 days, it still isn’t sticking. Keep at it. It will be worth it if it makes your life run smoothly. The holidays will be here before you know it. If you start now, your 66 days will be up the beginning of December. (Posted end of Sept.) So bring on those holidays with your new habit in place! Relax and live that part of your life “by heart”.

You can do this! Laura ~ your organizing girlfriend

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