Make it a Habit: Finish the Cycle

Professional organizer Peter Walsh often discusses the importance of finishing the cycle. The concept is a simple one: most things – if not everything – has a cycle, so make sure you complete it. Laundry, for example: you wash it, dry it, then (hopefully) hang it up or fold it to put it away. That may seem obvious to some. The trick, however, is to identify where else it might make sense to complete a cycle. Once I was introduced to the idea, I found that I had unfinished cycles all over my home!

Imagine this typical motion: the morning sun is peaking through the window as I stumble into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and some toast topped with almond butter.

Once the food and drink are prepared, I sit down to enjoy it, leaving the canister of tea and jar of almond butter on the countertop and the butter knife in the sink. Later, I take my half-full cup of tea over to my computer and subsequently get sucked into the work email tornado. Lunchtime rolls around. I leave my now-empty cup on the desk to make a quick sandwich and after consuming the meal, I put the dish in the sink.

Do you see the incomplete cycle? Instead of putting the dishes into the dishwasher or hand washing them after use, the offending articles are strewn about my home. No longer, I say!

Now that my eyes have been opened to these incomplete cycles, I’ve found it much easier to tidy as I move around the house throughout the day, which also makes it easier to fully complete the dish cycle. That is, not only have I made it a habit to put just-used dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher or hand wash as needed, but also I have come around to a regular cadence of running the dishwasher at night and emptying it in the morning. Cycle complete!

Applying this simple idea to various tasks around my home has made a huge difference. For instance, mail now moves swiftly from the mail box to the appropriate recycle for recycle, file or shred. The best part: piles of clutter aren’t mysteriously growing on the horizontal surfaces in my home from one day to the next.

If you’ve found it hard to stay on top of the daily clutter, perhaps try to identify and complete a few cycles in your home and let us know how it goes!

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