This article is an excerpt from Atomic Habits, my New York Times bestselling book.
While researching Atomic Habits, I came across a story that immediately struck me with its simplicity and power. It was the story of Oswald Nuckols, an IT developer from Natchez, Mississippi, and his simple strategy for making future habits easy.
Nuckols refers to the approach as “resetting the room.”
For instance, when he finishes watching television, he places the remote back on the TV stand, arranges the pillows on the couch, and folds the blanket. When he leaves his car, he throws any trash away. Whenever he takes a shower, he wipes down the toilet while the shower is warming up. (As he notes, the “perfect time to clean the toilet is right before you wash yourself in the shower anyway.”)
This might sound like he's just “cleaning up” but there is a key insight that makes his approach different. The purpose of resetting each room is not simply to clean up after the last action, but to prepare for the next action.
“When I walk into a room everything is in its right place,” Nuckols wrote. “Because I do this every day in every room, stuff always stays in good shape . . . People think I work hard but I’m actually really lazy. I’m just proactively lazy. It gives you so much time back.”
I have written previously about the power of the environment to shape your behavior. Resetting the room is one way to put the power back in your own hands. Let's talk about how you can use it.
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