Home & Garden

At Home: Moving forces new appreciation for the routine

It’s 7 a.m. Do you know where your toothbrush is?

If you do, and you can also find your phone charger, put your hands on a clean towel, and have all you need at hand to make a cup of coffee, be grateful.

For the last 48 hours, I’ve had none of this.

Every time I move, I remember the importance of patterns. They are the tracks that ground your days, the rudders that keep you on the roiling sea of life. All your patterns get destroyed when you take every one of your earthly possessions and put them all at once in a new place.

Moving, as I have done for the fourth time in three years, defines disruption. And it’s why I am staring into space, trying with the mental might of Stephen Hawking to remember where in the universe my favorite pillow is.

I do not thrive in chaos. Anyone who says he does is lying.

The hardest part of moving isn’t physical. The hardest part is mental, making thousands of small interconnected decisions in short order about where to put, well, everything. Because where you put stuff when you set up house dictates your routine in a way that will either help you move through your day efficiently, or not.

When all is in place, you can swiftly get dressed, put on mascara, feed the dog, pay a bill, check Facebook, scramble an egg, floss, set the table, and recycle the newspaper on autopilot. Thus, you can devote more brain space to bigger issues like how to land that big client or the future of Obamacare.

Moving tosses a hand grenade in all that.

But the benefit of moving is that you inadvertently find better ways to do things. Given a fourth chance, you have epiphanies: Oh, why not store the can opener by the canned goods!

Whether you’re moving (my sympathies) or well established and settled in your home (congratulations), carefully consider or reconsider each of your acts of daily living, and see if you can streamline them even more. A few thoughtful changes can pay off in more time, more brain space, and, quite possibly, a longer life. Here are some patterns to look at:

Morning and bedtime rituals: You want to spend these times thinking about the day ahead and processing the day just ending. You don’t want to be rummaging through the hair appliances, knocking over the toilet bowl cleaner to find your body lotion. You need systems. Hair brushes and hair appliances together. Cold cream next to the floss. Razor by the shaving cream. Think of what you do, when, where and with what, and pull it all together.

Coffee makes and breaks: Set up a coffee station in your kitchen so you can make coffee without taking any steps. That means put the coffee maker, coffee, filters and cups so they’re all in arms’ reach.

Place settings, everyone: Store silverware, place mats and napkins closest to the table where you eat. Store hot pads and cooking utensils close to the stove.

The daily mail: After you prune the junk, set the rest in a dedicated place, such as a lovely platter or basket.

Coming and going: Create a landing and launch pad. This is where you drop your keys and coat when you walk in and grab them as you go. It’s also where you set your purse, computer bag, lunch sack, coupons and anything else you want to take with you.

Recycling: Put your recycling bin in a convenient place, because the easier something is to do, the more likely you are to do it. And recycling is the right thing to do.

You get the idea: Living well is a lot less about where you live, and far more about how you live. Now if I could just find my pillow.