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21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Discipline is a Process

Yesterday we discussed how living a disciplined life is dependent solely upon me and the choices I make on a daily basis. You are not only the problem, you are also the solution.

So how do we change from the inside out? Well, first, we have to realize that it will be a process. You can’t just decide to go from zero discipline to 100% discipline overnight.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill you can take that will suddenly make you a disciplined person. Instead, you need to just resolve to change something and then follow through with it–even if it’s as simple as resolving to put your purse away in a designated spot when you come home instead of dropping it wherever you feel like when you stumble into your front door.

It’s easy to want to overhaul our whole lives in a matter of hours or days. But I promise that if you set small, simple, and achievable goals to begin with and stick with these over the long haul, it will be much more beneficial and effective than trying to radically change within 24 hours and ending up exhausted and burnt out after three days.

I love how FlyLady encourages her readers to start changing their lives by shining their kitchen sink. Again, this task might seem so small that it’s hardly worth the effort. But it really can make a big difference.

For instance, not too long ago, we started making a big effort to go to bed every night with a spotless kitchen. I’ve been amazed at how much more peaceful my mornings are when I don’t wake up to a sink overflowing with dirty dishes. It just makes my whole day seem bright to walk out of my bedroom and into a sparkling kitchen in the early morning! The opposite effect is true if I wake up to a messy kitchen: I feel overwhelmed, defeated, and behind before my day has even begun.

It’s a simple thing to whip the kitchen into shape at night. In fact, if my husband and I work together, we can get it completely clean in ten minutes. But developing the habit of not going to bed unless the kitchen is clean can change my whole outlook on the following day.

Remember: Moving in the right direction–even at a microscopic rate–is still moving forward. Slowly making seemingly tiny changes can add up to major differences over a period of time.

Practical Application

Choose one small bad habit you will commit to reverse or one good habit you will aim to implement in your life for the next 20 days. Use the Habit-Forming Chart or Habit Tracker (if you’re ambitious, there’s a 3-habit 100 days chart here) if that helps. Or, you can track your progress online through DailyFeats and earn free gift cards!

After you’ve put some thought into it, come back and tell us what one small change you decided upon. I’ll share mine tomorrow.

Yesterday’s Progress: The laundry is DONE. Well, at least until tomorrow. 🙂 Yay! How did your project go? Did you get it finished?

photo credit

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  • brittan says:

    I went through all the piles of papers, coupons, art projects, bills, etc and got it all organized! Even did some cabinet re-arranging in kitchen to make room to KEEP it all organized! Yay! Thanks for the challenge!

  • Jessica says:

    Yay I’ve been waiting on this post all day! You are so encouraging! my goal was to clean the fridge, and with the helpful hands of my one year old, it’s done! 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    How can you get the kitchen clean in 10 minutes? It usually takes at least half an hour for us even if we work together. An hour or more for me if I am alone, assuming there are dishes like pots that need to be hand washed.

    Funny you posted this just now — I had resisted going up to bed long enough to finish the job I vowed to finish within 24 hours, and I did. But it just meant staying up half an hour later than I wanted to — is that progress? Seems like not.

    • Crystal says:

      Freezer cooking, my friend. It’s the answer to every problem. Well, okay, not *every* problem, but it sure makes my life simpler–and the kitchen a lot less messier! 🙂

      At nights, we usually just have plates, cups, utensils, and a few extra items to rinse and stick in the dishwasher, so it can go rather quickly–especially if we work together!

      • Chrissy M . says:

        I just love how you and your husband work together . I think so many times women think that its all their job in the kitchen which can be very overwhelming. Sometimes women can get resentful about all the work they put on themselves . I’ve learned not to feel guility when my husband offers to help . Team work gets the job done faster so there’s more time to be spent together. 🙂

      • durango mom says:

        That gives me reason to start freezer cooking. Time saved cleaning up, not just time saved cooking! Thanks.

    • Hope says:

      Have you tried crockpot cooking? I am a SAHM who doesn’t seem to find time each week to do a quick freezer session. A great blog is (I hope it’s okay that I suggested that. Sorry Crystal if it’s not.) Crystal linked it to her site for the yogurt in the crockpot but after exploring more I found some awesome recipes and they save me so much time!!!

    • My mom also taught me to clean as I go when I cook. Get things out as you need them and put them away immediately. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen instead of waiting. Load the dishwasher as you cook instead of waiting until the end. Be cleaning something while the pasta water is boiling or the chicken is baking. If you clean as you go, when you are done eating all you will have are the dishes you ate off and your serving plates. That only takes a quick ten minutes.

    • Heather says:

      We often do it in that time, assuming that I stayed somewhat caught up throughout the day.
      1. Use the dishwasher for everything you can, including pots and pans.
      2. The kids clear the table. When older they’ll do more!
      3. Don’t rinse. This seems to be a giant psychological stumbling block for some people, but it really wastes time and water. If your dishes won’t get clean without rinsing, then you need a new dishwasher. They’re not really getting clean anyway – you just think they are because you rinsed them first so they LOOK clean. Of course, some things like pots may need a scrub first. But if the debris easily washes off in the sink under the running water without scrubbing, then dishwasher can also easily wash it off.
      4. This is not so classy, but serve food in the pots that you cooked it in. No serving dishes to wash.

  • Kaidi says:

    Great post. Every time you say something about achievable goals and bite sized pieces a joke comes to mind: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at the time.” It’s true.

  • Elise Adams says:

    Woohooo! Again…loving this series! One of my very favorite slogans is ‘progress not perfection’. Movement counts and baby steps add up to serious progress over time. When I look back at where I’ve come from, I have no excuse NOT to go all the way–one step at a time!

    Yep–my goal for today was keeping KID time kid time instead of trying to do 3 things at once. We were ALL happier for it! 😀

  • Blaire Ruch says:

    My goal was to get the house tidy and my daily chores done instead of letting them slide. Our Wednesdays are always very busy and tomorrow is also a big day for us, so it is so good to walk around tonight and see a house in complete order.

    My bad habit that I want to work on is very small to start. I have had a bad habit of not washing my face or removing my eye makeup at night. I know this is not good for my skin, and my face just feels yucky in the morning. But because I have a bigger bad habit of going to bed way too late, I am too tired to take that extra step. But when I do wash my face at night, it always feels so good! And especially with all of the fun free samples I have been getting in the mail lately through your website! And I know my skin will look better too!

    So I am going to try, starting in a few minutes, to wash my face and remove my eye makeup every night, so I can wake up feeling more refreshed.

    • Casey says:

      I have a similar problem. There are things I aim to do right before bed (such as stretches which are part of my home program for physical therapy) but I get so busy that by the time I head to bed i’m ready to collapse and i’m met with the decision: stretches or sleep? I know the stretches are SO beneficial, but at that point so is sleep. How do I become more disciplined that I can avoid this decision? I’m always trying to do to much and always feel behind.

      Similarly in the mornings, I know I could get more done if I got up earlier, but i’m so exhausted that sleep feels important too. Silly as it sounds if I make time to dry and strsighten my hair (takes all of 15 min) I feel SO much better about myself, confident, yet getting up that extra 15minutes early is darn near impossible. Hate making these choices. Is this a discipline problem? Or am I just trying to do to much.

      • Crystal says:

        It sounds like your biggest problem may be taking on too much. However, you could keep a time log for a few days and track how you are using each 15-minute period to determine whether or not you have too much on your plate or whether it’s a matter of needing to use your time more efficiently–or both!

      • Anna says:

        I have to do stretches every day for my back twice a day. If I don’t I am not mobile and am in pain so that motivates me. I do stretches in my bed first thing in the morning and at night while I watch TV. I also walk 2.5 miles/day to keep my back in shape. Again, I have do it to stay limber and mobile or other wise I am in pain and can’t move. I made this part of my health priority. I need to do it or else my whole life get impacted. Now it is just another part of my day. Find your motivator and prioritize.

      • beth b says:

        Oh my gosh, I have the same problem with my PT exercises! I need to do them as soon as the kids go to bed rather than waiting until I’m ready to fall over. When I work it’s really hard to get home at 11 pm then stretch. Thanks for the reminder.

      • WilliamB says:

        For some of these jobs, it could be that there’s a better time of day for you to do them. For example, could makeup be removed earlier in the evening? I had trouble flossing my teeth because, like Blaire, I was too tired at night – till I realized that I could floss them in the morning.

    • Crystal says:

      I SO need to develop the habit of always washing my face. I do good at it for a little while and then tend to start getting lazy. But you’re very right: it makes a big difference!

      Great job on keeping your house tidy in the midst of a busy day!

      • Jenna says:

        I have the same problem. So I use the neutrogena make-up remover wipes and leave them next to my bed. So no matter how tired I am i just need to wipe and pass out LOL!

      • Betty says:

        The make up remover/cleansing wipes are the best. I try to come home from work and “wipe off the day” before cooking dinner. I am usually pretty good with washing my face just before bed but incase it’s a night I just too exhausted I know it’s done.

    • Johnlyn says:

      I love Flylady’s advice on this…don’t start your before bed routine right before bed. Start after dinner.

      This mindset has changed everything for me!

  • Cynthia Arebalo says:

    I cleaned my daughter’s closet out!!! Super excited about this next challenge…..woohoo!!

  • MaryAnn says:

    I have so many bad habits I would like to change so this one was definitly a hard one to choose. I think I have to go with my bad habit of skipping breakfast or eating breakfast while doing other tasks. I choose this simply because when I don’t eat breakfast I feel bad the whole day and then I just eat a ton of junk food to get me through the day which only makes me feel worse.

  • Carrie says:

    I cleaned out all the summer clothes in my kids closets. It took less than 30 minutes and I have 4 children. Now, the closets look so much nicer, and they have rooms in their drawers. My bad habit will be the keys. We have a spot for me to put my keys, but I never put them there. I just throw them where ever I desire, only to find them missing later when we are in a rush out the door. I will now purposely put them in their spot. 🙂

  • Alea says:

    Your laundry comment made me think again: Is a mother’s work the only one that is so temporary? We do the laundry and cook only to have to start over the next day. For a while I tried to do something each day that would last longer than one day. (like freezer cooking, or a sewing project) I think my husband has a better sense of accomplishment with his work because he does one project and finishes it and gets to do something different the next day.

    I try to remind myself that I am training my will and my body wants to do whatever it wants. But everytime I practice discipline I strengthen my will and it should make it easier to do the right thing the next time!

    • Guest says:

      If this makes you feel any better, it’s the same for working moms. My husband is a great dad but his “tasks” around the house are very one and done. You mow the lawn once a week for a few months a year, you take out the trash once a week, etc.

      I work full time and still do all the cooking, grocery shopping, dr appts, paying bills, blah blah. Sorry for the complaining but it’s something that has bugged me for years. I think they don’t understand how much time all of these tasks add up to.

      • Johnlyn says:

        I totally agree. My husband always says that when I decided I would work full time and be a mom that I shot myself in the foot.

        Not because he won’t help, but stuff doesn’t bug him like it bugs me.

        However, he’s more than happy to help when I ask him to, but I have to be very clear and very kind.

        I don’t work full time anymore, but I still have to be very clear when I ask him to do things. Not sure if that would help you or not, I know every husband is different!

        • Fun Momma says:

          I like this little thread, and I hope you don’t mind me adding my two cents. I think that women “learn” to see the dirty kitchen, bathroom, laundry piles, etc. more often than men do growing up. What I mean is that seeing dirt and cleaning it is a learned behavior, and males are often not trained, as children, to see and clean it. Does that make sense? When my husband began staying home full time while I worked, he began to be ‘bugged’ by things that used to only annoy me, like the dusty floor. This is nice, but he still has a long way to go, in my book.

          On the other hand, what’s a little dirt? As they say, kids don’t keep, but cobwebs do.

          • Karen says:

            Absolutely true that some husbands just can’t “see” what needs to be done.

            My husband did weekly barracks inspections for his students when he was in the Navy. He could walk into their rooms and in thirty seconds have a whole list of things that they needed to clean up before they could pass inspection. But at home, he just couldn’t see the laundry basket overflowing, the dishes in the sink, the dust on the furniture, etc., etc.

            It did help (temporarily, at least) when I pointed out to him that if he could see what needed to be done in others’ living quarters, he could probably figure out what needed to be done in ours!

      • Suzanne H says:

        SOOO TRUE!!!! My husband has no idea how much time all of this stuff takes me. Makes me crazy as he tells me all about the books he’s reading, etc. I’m like “I wouldn’t mind reading too if I ever had 10 minutes to myself!”

      • Jessica says:

        I do the same. I remember asking my husband one time if he had ever once wondered if we had enough diapers in house. He had to admit the answer was no and we had 2 kids in diapers at the time.

  • My bad habit is not exercising. I know I could find 20 minutes a day to get on my exercise bike, but I constantly forget because I hate exercising and it’s just not a priority for me. But I want it to be! In my list of 10 procrastination areas that I’m trying to conquer (folding socks, painting the kitchen, organizing photo files, mending, etc.) exercise is the one area that I cannot seem to make any progress in. So, I’m going to commit to work on that for the next 20 days.

    • Crystal says:

      Maybe start with 10 minutes a day and don’t let yourself do something you love to do until it’s done? That seems to work for me–usually!

      And I have found that if I consistently exercise, I’m a lot better about keeping up with it because I begin to notice real differences (I feel more energetic, toned, etc. and that motivates me to keep on with it!)

      But I really shouldn’t be talking because I skipped almost three whole weeks of exercising recently (the last two weeks of October and the first week in November)… so this week I feel like I’m just trying to climb back up on the bandwagon again!

    • Rachael says:

      It really helps me to choose activities that I like, which is often walking. I know it’s not a high powered workout, but it’s a way to ensure I do it. I also like walking because I can often bring the kids along in the stroller.

  • Laura says:

    I achieved my goal of organizing the pantry and putting away the non-perishables from previous trips – yay! Now my kitchen looks great; I’m so excited about it!

    The habit I’m going to work on implementing over the next 20 days is having a personal devotion (at least 15 min.) upon waking, no matter when that is. I work from home so I’ve used that as an excuse to get to work right away while the kids are still asleep, but I know that I can not work for 15 minutes and be much more grounded overall.

  • Rebecca says:

    My project was to finally put in the plants I have had sitting around on my front stoop for the past 2 months. (it stays fairly warm in Southern California all winter so this its realistic to plant things in November here!). I bought them at a sale in September, and I planted about 70% of it, but just hadn’t gotten around to the last few. I had to dig up some old plants, turn over the soil, reset some edge stones, and I put in a rose bush, some lavender, and a couple of pony packs of pansies and snapdragons. It took me about an hour, and I was able to throw away/put away all the pots , flats, shovels, hoes, spades, etc. cluttering up my stoop. It looks SO much better around the front door now, and the new flowers look great in the front yard! I’m so glad I finally got to that – I’ve been looking at the mess every single time I step out my front door. I also burned about 300 calories, so there’s my exercise for the day – two birds with one stone!

    For my bad habit, I stay up waaayy too late and always skip a bedtime routine – brush teeth, wash face, etc. I’m going to work on remembering to take care of myself every night. For my good habit, I’m going to work on having family breakfast together. It makes us all happier!

  • Anshu says:

    Yes! I finally organized those shelves that I had been procrastinating for months ( no kidding!). It took 15 mins :O
    And I so hear you about the spotless kitchen in the night! I don’t strive for spotless kitchen yet, just a clean sink. I started doing it after following flylady, and I don’t know how but it does work. Having the sink clean and all the utensils in their place makes such a big difference to my whole day, its unbelievable.
    I’m currently struggling at work, so I’ll just try to get into habit of absolute distraction free work ( meaning no internet) during the first hour. I’ll come back to report how it is going.

    • Crystal says:

      Great job on organizing your shelves–and in 15 minutes, no less!

      Can you use some sort of blocker program (like Leechblock) to remove internet distractions at work during certain times? That’s helped me when I struggle with distractions like that when I should be focusing on a project (or cleaning up my kitchen!)

  • Since we’ve just moved, my problem is having WAY too many projects to do. So instead of picking one and doing it, I procrastinate on all of them.

    Today I “processed” one of our un-carved jack-o-lanterns! After reading about your pumpkin adventures, I thought I’d give it a try. 22 cups of pumpkin + seeds today! Our house smells delicious. Thanks for the challenge, and the inspiration to experiment with pumpkins!

  • Amanda B says:

    What a great series! I missed Day 1 and so I didn’t do a project in 24hrs. However, recently (within the last 2 weeks) I did tackle a project that I had been putting off. Cleaning up the panty. Trust me when I say it was WELL overdue. Now it is so easy to find everything again!

    For my bad habit. I am going to be more diligent on taking care of me. Washing my face and doing skin care before bed everyday. It is something that I know I should do but never really stick with. And now that I am……ahem……getting older, I am starting to see those “effects” of not taking better care of myself.

  • Meredith says:

    I did it funny that the only thing I am disciplined at is cleaning my kitchen. It has to be spotless if I am not in there. I can’t even stand a spoon in the sink.

    Yes, I got mine done. It was laundry too.

  • Claire says:

    Thanks for the kick in the pants! We moved into our apartment 2 months ago and my bedroom has been a disaster ever since, slowing growing worse. I finally tackled it yesterday and it felt so good to go to bed last night in a neat room! And it gave me inspiration for how I want to decorate it.

    I frequently put things on the stairs to go up to one of the bedrooms. The habit I’m going to implement is making sure the stairs are clear before I go to bed at night by taking stuff up every time I go upstairs.

  • Lindsey says:

    Yesterday, I took a year’s worth of home videos off of the camera and put them onto discs. Felt so good to get caught up on that (and to figure out how to do it again).

    My bad habit (which bothers my husband) is starting drinks and not finishing them. I pour myself a glass and then get distracted and leave it around the kitchen. Sometimes, I find several half filled water bottles, cups, etc. around when I go to pick up the kitchen at night. What a time saver this would be if I could change this habit and not have to clean up after myself so much at the end of the day.

    Loving this series!! 🙂

  • Sorry to mention this when you talk about not getting out of your pajamas for two days, but one thing I like about FlyLady is when she says “Dressed to the shoes.” Because one of my goals as a SAHM now is to take care of myself like I’m still going to work. OK, I don’t wear scrubs all day any more, but at least I want to be dressed in something I won’t be embarrassed about when the UPS man comes.

  • Debbie says:

    I usually accomplish all of my financial, professional and “home” goals, but never seem to follow through with my personal goals, which in essence is taking care of myself. My goal from this day forward is to give priority to my personal goals. Exercise, eat better and pray everyday for friends, family and humanity.

    I recently stumbled upon this quote by Dave Ramsey and I think that it applies for every aspect of life. “Goals are the steps that lead to our dreams. Success is planned out, not stumbled upon”.

  • Lynn says:

    I finished a book that I’ve just not been able to get done! Of course I had to make myself right before I went to bed! But it’s done and now I can finally move I to the next in the series.

  • Dawn says:

    Sigh –
    Laundry goal not met for me. I have a sick child and my to-do list will wait today while we go visit the doctor.
    That is the hardest thing for me regarding goals – having something unexpected happen and getting off track and not getting back on track again.

    • Crystal says:

      Just try again tomorrow, okay? Don’t beat yourself up with guilt over something you couldn’t control. Life happens and, in the grand scheme of things, caring for your sick child is much, much more important than your laundry pile. {Hugs!}

    • nicole says:

      My oldest has been sick with 2 different things basically for the past 8 days, and yesterday my middle came down with a fever. Between Tuesday and Wednesday I spent 5 hours in the dr office. (And that doesn’t count waiting time!) So I get it when you say the to-do list has to wait.

      Today is my catch up day hopefully! 🙂 Good luck Dawn!

    • Stephanie says:

      When someone is sick the goals are deferred, not off track. The number one goal is taking care of people. You will get back to your list later when everyone is well. I have to tell myself that when someone is ill or I will drive myself nutty thinking about everything that needs to be done that doesn’t involve taking care of sick people.

      • The nice thing about being organized is that once you are, little hiccups like sick kids aren’t as big a deal. So when this series is over, next time someone gets sick it will be a little easier. That’s how I keep encouraging myself! That and remembering that “God’s mercies are new every morning.” Christ is always at the ready to fill in the gap between my failures and success for his kingdom!

  • Lea Stormhammer says:


    My 24 hour goal was to get caught up with my grading (I’m a university professor) – I got caught up until the stuff that got handed in yesterday. ! Whoo hoo! I’d been a little bit behind a couple of times and it really added up!

    My bad habit? Doing my daily/weekly chores. Laundry, sweeping and keeping my kitchen clean I don’t struggle with and Hubby and the kids do the dusting and vacuuming but mopping, bathrooms, and budget-related stuff (Paying the bills!) I struggle with!

    I’m just glad the grading is caught up – now I won’t feel guilty about taking that time to clean my bathroom! 🙂

    Thanks for this series! I REALLY need it!

  • Crystal says:

    I have been putting off sanding and painting a table that I found at a yardsale. I got it done yesterday and it is now sitting in my hall waiting for my husband to come home to help me move it upstairs!

    I think my new goal is going to be to scrapbook more. I have been trying to set aside 10 minutes of naptime each day to scrap. It is so important to me and actually makes me feel happy. It is the best stress reliever for me, and sometimes I just don’t make time for it.

  • Kimberly says:

    I did it! I cleaned out my closet. It had become the dumping ground for two years with stuff that I didn’t want to deal with. Since I am like you and a minimalist when it comes to my clothes, I had a lot of room in there for everything else.

    I set up a donation pickup and everything is ready to go. It took me an entire afternoon but I felt so good afterwards! I even left the door open so that I could admire the beauty of my clean closet.

    My bad habit is laundry. I let it pile and pile. My husband and kids have enough laundry to clothe (at least) three families. I am going to work on doing a load a day, every day. Seems like the only thing I keep up with in the laundry room is the cloth diapers.

    In order to get caught up I will do two loads a day for awhile and instead of putting it all back in the closet to start the cycle over again, I have already set out boxes in my folding area (aka, the living room) so that I can put some of it away immediately to go to charity.

    It’s amazing what a jump start it was to get the closet cleaned out. The momentum is growing, I can feel it!

  • Susan says:

    I’m an older woman. As I look back over my time of raising kids/having a career I realize that one of the most important things that gave me more time to accomplish my goals was to unplug. Turn off the television and the computer and don’t talk on the phone or text. This change alone will give you plenty of time to take care of what you want to accomplish. You’ll be amazed at the “extra” time you’ll find.

  • Hope says:

    My 24-hour project was cleaning, rearranging, and organizing the office/school room. I have a five month old and almost four year old so I enlisted my mom as a babysitter so that I could get more done faster. I am so happy to say the room is clean and functional!!! I still want to do a few thing but they are “fluff” projects.

    My habits that I want to implement are better self-care. I seem to give my all to my little ones and sometimes don’t take enough time for me.

    Self-discipline is such a problem for me. I know I need to get up and do things but I am lazy! I know that if I want to motivate my kids I must be motivated too.

  • HeatherHH says:

    We had to completely clean out our pantry closet last week, but I was too exhausted to put it all back in place. Yesterday, I decided it was all getting off the dining room floor and back in that closet in an organized fashion. And I did it!

    My habit to establish will be to have the dishes all washed after supper before going to bed. That way in the morning, I can just put them straight away (strong believer in air drying) instead of often having dirty dishes waiting for me before breakfast has even begun.

  • To be completely transparent… I’m an Army wife with 4 small kids(ages 14 months to 8 years) and my husband is deployed to Afghanistan… so laundry often(usually always) takes over and gets out of control here. My task was to do laundry and honestly, between kids and the gym and making meals etc, I forgot completely about it! lol

    So today, I am going to tackle that and get it DONE in 24 hours! I WILL be victorious! LOL

    And then my new habit… it should already be a daily one but isn’t. FLOSS. LOL

  • Aimee says:

    I love your website and have followed several of your popular series. Would you be able to post this series under your popular series tab at the top of your website? That way, I don’t have to scroll through an entire day’s worth of blogging to find the latest article. Thanks.

  • Erin says:

    So true about the kitchen sink! I wish I could get my husband to get that. But unfortunately, I don’t think we could get the kitchen spotless in just ten minutes. Too many surfaces to wipe (counters, microwave above stove, stove, fridge, island, high chair), dishes to do (we even have a dishwasher!), etc. But, yes, I get that kitchen clean after dinner every day religiously!

    I did get my bedroom dusted and vacuumed yesterday, which had gotten backburnered endlessly, and I even vacuumed my porch. That doesn’t seem all that impressive reading some of the other posts, but it’s finally done!

  • Yesterday I did get the living room and kitchen straightened back up. Counters wiped down, mirrors shined and floors done. I also got 2 loads of laundry done and did a quick pick up of my bedroom. Normally when I write out my daily list I do good if I mark off half of what I put on it. Yesterday I marked off everything but 2 things which was pretty awesome.

    I have several bad habits but I think the habit that will change the atmosphere of my home most would be cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.

    I have a bad habit of going to bed without cleaning up the dinner mess and then the next morning it is right there waiting. It is the first thing that goes on my daily list. I think instead if my daughters (13 and 15) and I did this sometime before bed we could probably accomplish it in 15 minutes. And I think this would make my day start out so much better.

  • Yesterday, my goal was to take out the trash and get it to the curb before the trash man came. I got it all to the big trash can- and my sweet husband surprised me by taking it to the curb when he left for work!

    My habit to work on is making my bed each morning. For whatever reason, I just feel better when my bed is made!

    • I always feel better when my bed is made as well. This used to be a huge struggle, but last year my mom bought us a beautiful new bedspread set. It’s amazing how much that motivated me to get the bed made every morning, the old mismatched set just didn’t feel that much prettier made or unmade so I didn’t put forth the effort.

  • I didn’t get my project completely finished in 24 hours, but I did get my Christmas Advent Calendar Pack proofread. Now I just need to fix a couple things with the format, get my husband to do a final read through and get it up on e-junkie. I can’t wait to share it!

  • I got the quiet time bags I’d sort of started organized and put away! It wasn’t much, but it got the box out of our living room, and that is wonderful. Thanks, Crystal!

  • Erin says:

    My goals yesterday were to stay productive at work all day and to read 1 chapter of my book. I accomplished both, and actually finished the book! I am so happy about that.

    My bad habit I am going to reverse is staying up too late. I will go to bed by 11pm every night – it makes such a big difference in my energy level!

  • Beth says:

    I didn’t make my 24 hour goal (finish the last 30 pages of a book that has been lingering for months) thanks to a head cold that had me crawling in bed at 7:45pm.

    My habit for the next 20 days is going to be getting home from work and putting everything where it belongs (clothes hung up/in laundry, lunch dishes in dishwasher, purse/laptop bag out of the way, shoes in closet, etc). My fiance is going to be so happy if “tornado Beth” can be reformed.

  • Kelli says:

    I had been putting off making dentist appointments and vision appointments for our family. My husband’s job changed and so we now have new insurance and unfortunately, our current dr’s do not accept the new insurance. So yesterday, I researched doctors in our vicinity and made those appointments. It felt so good to get it on the calendar!!

    I also stored away a basket of Halloween decorations that had been sitting in the entry way of our home. Felt good and didn’t take a lot of time.

  • melissa says:

    Yesterday I pledged to go through my daughters’ closet. It took all day of starting and stopping but its done! And you were right. Even though it took me the whole day, the actual time doing it was much smaller than I thought. Thanks!

  • Traci says:

    I got my dining room table cleaned off and actually put all the stuff either in the trash or where it belongs. YIPPEE!! Plus I cleaned out a lot of my Yukon. Oh it was an awful mess and I’m not completely done, but I made huge progress. I will finish it tonight and my 1st resolve is to start making sure the kitchen is clean every night. That too, makes my mornings hectic. I have to be at work by 7, so I usually am trying frantically to empty the dishwasher and refill it before I go to work. Makes for a stressful start to each day!

  • Karrie says:

    We’ve recently moved, and the kids’ bedroom hadn’t been unpacked yet. I wanted to make a “no toys downstairs” rule in the new house, but how could I, if they can’t move in their bedroom? I thought about determining to get it unpacked and completely clean yesterday, then decided that it was “better to not make a vow, than to make a vow and not keep it.” = ) BUT, I decided to just START the job, and whadya know, I finished it in under an hour. Now their room is spotless, and I’ll be able to finally implement some teaching times and incentive programs for them to pick up after themselves, and save everyone a little chaos. Yay!

  • Chelsea says:

    I want to make a habit of cleaning tidying our master bath every night before I go to bed and making sure we have clean towels. Dirty clothes in the hamper, sink cleared off, everything in its place. I know it means a lot to my husband to wake up to a clean master bath.

  • Jillbert says:

    I think my habit needs to be having the family room tidy each night. We already keep the kitchen clean, now it’s time to add another room. My desk is in the family room so this will be a big challenge for me to keep it under control daily.

  • Meredith says:

    Okay, so I got my daughter’s bedroom done… in really no time at all. My work project was to go through a pile of papers and organize, toss, etc… Done! Love that!

    I think a habit I want to form is to clear the dinner table (the dishes and food gets put away, but something always ends up on there) and the landing on the stairs…. it annoys me that there is always something there, but hopefully I’ll make it a habit to straighten up… I’m going to have my husband and kids help, too.

    For those of you that dont always wash your face… I always do it after I put the kids into bed. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and put on my pjs before I go downstairs. Just a suggestion, but it works for me!

  • Betty says:

    My first challange will be to make lunch for my daughter and myself before I go to bed. You’d think a peanut butter sandwich wouldn’t be too time consuming but it turns out to be when 100 other things are going on.
    The second challange is that laundary thing. I’m great at washing/drying but the put away can sometimes take two weeks. Yikes!

  • BethB says:

    My project was to spend 15 minutes going through the papers in our In Box and file them. It didn’t even take me half that time so I had extra minutes to deal with some professional paperwork I’ve been avoiding. I even found a few bills that were due within the next few days. Oops. Dealing with paperwork is a constant issue for me as I put it off forever then get irritated with myself when it takes 30 minutes to file six months worth of papers. If I spent 10 minutes a week, probably not even, The Pile would never build up!

    Anyway, that’s not the habit I want to work on for this project. My goal is to learn to eat more mindfully so my habit to add is to eat only sitting down at the table without a book, magazine, or my phone. This will be the third time this fall I’ve set that goal and I’m determined to follow through this time!

  • Becky says:

    Thank you so much for this great series. I’m single, without any children, and I really appreciate that you write in a way that anyone can take something from this series!

    I had two 24 hour goals. One was for work: finish a draft and unfortunately it’s still in progress. But instead of working on every other project possible to avoid writing and focusing, I made a lot of progress and hope to have it done today. I guess that makes it a 48 hour goal. My personal goal was to complete an online health assessment for my insurance company that I received a couple months ago. It was worth a small credit towards medical costs – why would I procrastinate? I finished it last night!!

    The habit I want to work on is consciously stopping a couple times each day to do breathing. This sounds rediculous, but I’ve been stressed lately and have read over and over that this is helpful!

  • Danielle says:

    Well, I didn’t manage to complete all my laundry. I only have one load to put away and one more to wash/dry/put away. I’m happy with my progress though seeing that I have two babies to tend to (one nurses every 2-3 hrs) and we had church last night as well (and my laundry pile was HUGE.) I’m feeling much more motivated and excited about getting some things accomplished than I have in a while so I’m happy about that. I’m going to finish my laundry also.

    One of my bad habits is staying up late and getting up late. When I get up late it throws my whole day off. This is one I’ve been wanting to break for a while now so that’s what I’m going to work on for the next 20 days. I have yet to pick my times though. 🙂

  • Anna says:

    I decided I needed to clean up the kitchen after a freezer cooking day. I am ashamed to say I also had the previous 2-3 days worth of dishes in there as well. So, I took stayed at home and went to work a little late. I cleaned my mountain of dishes and even put them away. While waiting for the dishwasher to finish, I washed clothes, and put baked potatoes in the crockpot for dinner. (I even made toppings and put them in the refrig!). when I got home that evening, dinner was ready for us and the kitchen was clean. Plus I got a jumpstart of laundry. As a single mom of 4, it was nice coming home to a house that smelled good and that was clean. 🙂
    My bad habit I want to work on is getting my finances in place. I want to stay more on top on my funds and make my funds work for me vs. me working for my funds. I have a binder I made, I have been taking Financial Peace University classes with David Ramsey and am beginning to implement his suggestions. On my way to work I did more discipline task and paid off 2 bills!!! I really want to continue implementing his plan. I just did not realize how much work it would be but once I get there, my budget, and snowballing will be more effective.

    • Traci says:

      You sounds so much like me. The dishes, the finances, etc. It’s tough being a single mom. I alway say I struggle because I have no accountability, but this series has really hit home with me. I am not only the problem, but the solution! Our church is offering Financial Peace. I missed the first class, but I plan to start the one they offer this spring. Good luck to you!

  • Sakura says:

    I bottled 14 jars of grape juice last night and (insert drum roll here) folded all the laundry that was clean while the juice processed!!! Thanks for the to get off my booty and get things done. My 21 day habit goal is to spend 30 minutes wogging (walk/jog) daily. Today was day one and done!

  • Rachel says:

    It is funny how your kitchen sets the tone for your entire household! I love your goal of cleaning it before bed each night. I think I will try it! With my first baby being pretty new still I’m trying to learn the balance between getting enough rest and still maintaining our home. I’m finding that if my morning starts off right, then the rest of the day goes well and I don’t have to feel guilty if I collapse on the couch in the afternoon! Going to bed with a clean kitchen is an excellent way to start, makes a big difference.

    • WilliamB says:

      You may already realize that just about every advice column, book, and person who gives advice, says that getting enough rest with a newborn around is the most important thing. And you know what? It is. The rest can slide or be reduced to its minimum while you get to know your new person and figure out how to take care of it.

  • Pam H says:

    Alright, my habit is to do a 15 minute pick up every night – hopefully most nights I’ll have the kids help me. It is so much better to wake up to a picked up house than a messy one. Plus, if I can’t manage 15 minutes . . . well, that’s a whole other problem!

  • My 24 hour goal was to get all laundry cleaned, folded and put away. This included all the clean laundry that had been making a pile at the end of my bed since JUNE! And it is all done. All laundry folded and put away. Including washing and drying 8 loads 🙂 Feels great to have it all done!

    My bad habit? Brushing my teeth at night. I am just so tired by the end of the night that most nights I pass out on the couch while reading a book. I don’t go to bed because I typically wait for my husband to get home around 11 but that is just to late for me to stay up til. I am hoping to get this into my routine after our evening snack time. (I do evening child care in my home so we have snack time before bed each night.)

    Thanks again for the motivation. is #1 on my list of sites I enjoy!

  • JennieC. says:

    My good habit goal: Only checking Facebook twice a day instead of staying logged in and having it suck my time!!!

    Thanks for the encouragement and motivation!!!!

  • Meadow says:

    My 24 hour goal was to clean up a messy area at work. Yay! It looks a lot better!
    My 21 day good habit goal is to wash my face and take a shower every night before I go to bed. Nothing makes my day start better than waking up clean and refreshed!

    I sure do need to be more disciplined.
    Thank you, Crystal!!

  • Glori says:

    This series is addressing my life’s grand problem, discipline!! I get too easily distracted by books or computer and leave everything else undone until I’m desperately late with meal prep, basic cleaning chores, personal care and kid time. It’s terrible…a lot of my reading (books and blogs) relate exactly to this, personal organization, homemaking, parenting, etc. But the big thing is: I.Won’t.

    So, I have too many projects that I’ve been procrastinating and many little habits to work on. For the project, I think purging my closet: too much stuff that doesn’t get worn. And for the habit: picking up a book or the computer only after the main tasks of the day are done, and for a timer-set length of time as a reward. =)

    On the positive side, I DO get the kitchen completely clean most nights (no dishwasher and not much help), because I know it will definitely make a difference in the morning.

    Thanks Crystal for sharing and giving us this space to share, too.

  • Lisa says:

    I am a huge Flylady believer! Thanks for this post! You’re inspiring me to get on that treadmill!

  • Laura Evans says:

    Got my peppers chopped yesterday!! It wasn’t even that late of a night–only took about 30mins.
    My habit that I need to change (there are so many) is to do some form of exercise–walking or doc prescribed stretching–once per day.
    Wish me some luck!!

  • Nichole says:

    My project took yesterday and today, but I did it: finished writing the thank-you notes from my baby shower last week. Baby can COME! NOW, please! 🙂

  • sarah says:

    Checking facebook no more than 2 times a day. I stole that from someone else, but it makes sense.

  • Heather says:

    Thank you for starting this series. I have been praying about how I can be more disciplined and make my life and home run more smoothly.

    My goal at the beginning of this week was to go to bed with a completely clean kitchen. It was encouraging to hear that I am not the only one who struggles with this.

    By evening I get warn out and it is easy to just leave a baking dish to soak in the sink and a few knives. After the dishwasher is run and full of clean dishes, snack containers and glasses get set on the counter and in the morning is is so discouraging to have a messy kitchen.

    I have loved having a clean kitchen this week. I have older children, so I have them help load and unload the dishwasher, but I mostly do the dishes that need to be washed by hand and counter tops. It’s amazing how little effort it takes and what a blessing it is.

  • Denise C. says:

    My new habit that I am going to work on is……stop swearing. I grew up with parents who cursed like sailors and swore I’d never do it, and I do. Not. something. I. am. proud. of. at. all.

    Fill in words: fiddlesticks, shucks are coming to mind as clean words, any others?

    • Cate says:

      I’m always fond of “Golly!”

    • Nichole says:

      My favorite, because it makes me laugh: a very proper British librarian I once knew always used to say, “Muffins!”

    • WilliamB says:

      Words that start with the same sound as the curse word are always a good start. Fudge. Drat. Crud. Fewments.

      Have you considered a quarter jar? Everytime you – or someone else – catches you swearing, you pay a quarter. Some people find it extra motivating if that money has to be donated to a charity they *disagree* with.

      • Denise C. says:

        These are great! I tried the quarter jar once and it was a complete bomb. I’ve thought of the rubber band on my wrist, snapping it when I said a bad word too (need to find a rubber band though!)

  • Cate says:

    I’ve been thinking about this all day trying to figure out which small goal I want to work toward, and I think I’ve finally picked one! I really, really want to get back in the habit of eating meals at the kitchen table with my 2 1/2 year old. We always have a family dinner around the table with her dad, but during the day when it’s just us, I tend to let it slide and we eat wherever, whenever. When we eat at the table, it’s a great bonding time and I find that I’m much more deliberate about what we’re eating (because it feels like a meal and not just one in a series of snacks). Plus, the kitchen table is SO much easier to clean off than the couch! 😉

  • Hannah Rogers says:

    Very excited about this series! My husband and I are going to do this together, our life could definitely use a little discipline! My 24 hour was to get caught up on my work (I work from home for my families business and am always struggling to stay on top of it). The 20 day challenge took a little more thought, there are sooooo many things and habits I would like to change or implement, but when it came down to it, nothing could be more important for me than getting in the habit of reading God’s word, DAILY. I am always up and down with it now, some weeks I do well, some weeks I only pick up my bible on Wednesdays and Sundays. Excited to see what the Lord has in store for me throughout this series.

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

  • Koree says:

    *Try to walk outside or on treadmill.

    *More patience at work.

    * Not worry about clean house; it’s just me who cares and I have more important priorities at this point.

    *Not do schoolwork the night before/day it’s due.

  • Tracy says:

    I am so thankful to find this series and glad I did not just sit by and read, but decided to participate. I lost my job at the end of September and have been discouraged with no responses to my several attempts to find another. I have been putting off washing my delicates which included most of the work clothes I wore the last week of my job. I figured I don’t need to wear them why wash them? I finished this project in 24 hours and it feels great to have it accomplished. Now to tackle my bad habit of letting the mail pile up on the kitchen table. Thank you for encouraging all of us to have more discipline in our lives. I am sure it will be helpful during these next few months and hopefully a new job to come.

  • debbi says:

    I read that discipline is remembering what you really want… 🙂 Saw it somewhere through the website. That really has helped me see discipline as a positive rather than a chore. 🙂 Great job to you!

  • Krystal says:

    Ever since I found your website about a year ago I have been very blessed. Reading your blog has been a real motivator and encouragement for me. I am looking forward to this series. Lately I have been overwhelmed and stressed out. When my husband asks why, I don’t have a clear answer. I am a stay at home mom and non of the things on my to-do list are critical. However, I feel like they needed to be done yesterday! I was so excited when I was able to cross off two things from my list. I finally folded and put away the baskets of clothing that was clean, and I made some homemade granola bars and muffins that I had been wanting to try. I felt better all day long 🙂 As for my bad habit…I haven’t picked the one I want to work on yet. However, I am looking forward to crossing off days from the chart. Thanks!

  • I got about 1/2 of it done. Better than nothing. 🙂

    Tidying up the living room before I go to bed each night. I stay up later than anybody else, so hopefully it’ll stay nice until I wake up.

  • Rebecca says:

    I’m in a very busy season of my life (3 kids under 6, 3 part time jobs, an online class), but I really, really want to lose the last 10lbs of ‘baby weight’ – I’ve come so far and stalled. So, in keeping with the little time I have, my new habit will be to spend just 15 minutes every evening on my elliptical machine. Even I can find 15min in my day!

  • AudreyM says:

    So I’m a little late to jump on this band wagon, but I decided last week that I would get the dishes done before bed. Funny that something so simple would make your day go so much better. I’ve been sucessful about 4 out of 5 days. But I have to cut myself some slack doing dishes when I get home from work at 11pm sometimes just isn’t possible. Having 2 kids and 4 months pregnant I can only do so much.

    Today’s project, tackle the “piles” papers and coupons scattered throughout the living/kitchen area.

    Thanks for the encouragement! I love reading your stuff!

  • becky k says:

    I’m a little late to jump on this band wagon, too. Last week was pretty crazy for me, but I knew what my first project should be right away–it just took me a few days to get to the point where I could just sit down and get it done. My 2 year old found my recipe file (back in the summer, I believe) and dumped it out. I didn’t have time at that point to reorganize everything, so I just stuffed all the recipes back in the box. I could have reorganized it 3 times over in the time I’ve wasted over the past few months trying to find recipes in the disorganized mess. (Why do I do this to myself?) So, I finally sat down for about 25 minutes and put everything back in order and made some new categories/divider cards. My recipes are organized better than they were before.

    I really need this series, Crystal. Thanks so much!

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