"Structure determines behavior" at home

"Structure determines behavior" at home

A few days ago, our ever-reliable household helper, Ate R, left for Kuwait. She kept our house in order according to my liking, and most of the chores ran automatically. She knew how to keep things in order from our living room to the pantry, storage, and laundry area.

Her replacement came in early to be trained. One week in, I realize that each person is really different. How do I get our new loving helper to Ate R’s level?

And this line, “Structure determines behavior”, first came to mind.

Amusing because it is not even your usual household management or home organization principle yet I believe it to be truly applicable.

As a mom and a home manager, I strive for things to be orderly at home. It is important for me because I see how the mood changes (or maybe just mine) at home when things are in disarray! And to imbibe love, joy, and harmony, I always want to make it work.

Based on “Structure determines behavior”, I started with the following:

  1. Enumerated all that she is tasked to do with a structure
  2. Communicated my expectations and cited specific examples such as: when you see something lying around, pick it up right away and put it back where it belongs.
  3. Toured her around our small 3-bedroom home to show her the “appointed spaces”

A specific example of “Structure determines behavior” at home is how to deal with your closets.

When it is time to re-home freshly laundered clothes, the quickest and most convenient way is to just stack it on top of the other clothes, right?

I had to take some time to reorient her with where the clothes go. I knew I had to level up my game to help her out! And so I drew a closet layout as her guide and made the labels bolder for emphasis.

Our closet has the usual design where you have stacks of clothes on top of each other. Do you know the main cause of closet chaos? Towering piles of clothing, where you cannot see what is behind the other stack!

The main objective of our closet organization is to make sure that we can easily find what we are looking for. 

But how? 

  • Appoint a space. Select the spot where a specific type of clothing goes. Tip: Give frequently used items prime access!
  • Minimize before you organize. Do not overcrowd your closet, unless you are always ready to dig for your long-lost blouse!
  • For drawers, try out the Konmari fold! Does great wonders in making all shirts visible at first glance.
  • Categorize your clothes the way you pick what to wear. Do you think by clothing type? And then by color? Sort and arrange that way! Fun tip: arrange according to the colors of the rainbow!
  • The structure is there, but how can one adhere to it? LABEL. Consider creating a layout to be posted by the inner door of your cabinet or somewhere it can be easily seen. Make the labels clear and visible.

This way, when it’s time to re-home freshly laundered clothes, they will slip back into their assigned places.

See how the behavior (stacking fresh clothes on top of the other) changes after a few rounds. If it’s not working, check your structure design, it’s always great to edit until you achieve flow and ease. Then leveling up again!

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