Sunday, April 7, 2013

Broken Windows in My Life

A while ago, Gretchen Rubin posted about her "broken windows" of happiness.

The Broken Windows Theory came to my attention about a decade ago, I believe in a book by Malcolm Gladwell. It posits that minor crimes like subway fare dodging, graffiti, or broken windows make way for larger crimes like robbery, rape, and assault because it seems as if no one cares about the neighborhood. Think about it: if someone bothers to fix broken windows, they'll bother to make other things nice and safe, too.

Gretchen's post details the "broken windows" that make her unhappy. When these things aren't handled, she feels overwhelmed. This really resonated with me - I have noticed that sometimes I'll be in a bad mood, just all out of sorts, for no apparent reason, and if I spend half an hour straightening up my living space, I feel 100% better.

Here are some of my broken windows:
* Messy kitchen/dishes piling up
* Piles of laundry strewn about
* Unfolded blankets on the couch
* Water all over the bathroom counter
* A list of phone calls to be made
* A dirty car, inside or out

If I can keep these things under control, the rest of my life seems like it's okay, even if the bigger things aren't getting done.

Do you have any "broken windows" in your life?


  1. I use this approach just by nature for things around the house. I have a list of very minor tasks, some that can be done in as little as 5 minutes, but are basically little cleaning, organizing, or sorting tasks. Wiping down the baseboards in the hallways or re-organizing the pantry shelves, or cleaning out the junk drawer. They're all little tasks but what we find is that when things like that are done, it keeps us on top of the bigger things and our house always looks really good, especially with having two young kids. Definitely agree with this approach and it has many different areas where it can be useful.

  2. A to-do list with only one or two things crossed out
    Paperwork waiting to be filed
    An unbalanced checkbook (yep, dinosaur me still does it on paper)


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