highlightMost of us have a love/hate relationship with habit. We categorize them as “good” or “bad,” and struggle to develop the good and leave the bad by the wayside. Fortunately we can create routines (habit’s first cousin) fairly easily to make our lives run more smoothly. The key is to make certain behaviors automatic: You know how you can’t quite remember closing the garage door, but you always do it? It’s like that. Quit driving home to check—the door is down.

Routines make life easier: the whole point is to design a framework that encourages behaviors that happen without thinking. That leaves more room in your head for the real tasks of life.

Three positive routines that shape things for the better:

1. Have a place to put your keys and your purse. A simple hook can help with

2. Put things away when you are done using them. Make sure the storage spot for kitchen gadgets is right next to (technically it will probably be above or below) where you use them.

3. Keep a shopping list. When you think “we need milk—I’ll remember that later,” write it on the list instead, and free up that brain cell for bigger thoughts. Keeping a post-it in a kitchen drawer works well—keep a pen next to it. Never move the pen.

The first step to embracing routines is to pay attention to the moments of our lives: what are some of your routines that make life easier?