The broken windows theory postulates that the existence of one broken window in an abandoned building begets more broken windows – people are more likely to vandalize a building that has already been vandalized.
I don’t know whether this theory is true for actual abandoned buildings, but I see evidence that it’s true for me personally. Sloppiness begets more sloppiness. If I leave a scrap of paper on my nightstand, pretty soon it’s covered in junk. If I leave a piece of computer equipment on my desk, pretty soon the whole desk is covered. If a single dirty sock misses the hamper, it’s all over for having a clean room.
It’s not just “stuff” … a few years ago, I fell behind on balancing my checkbook and haven’t done it since. Whenever I fall behind on email, I fall really behind. Whenever I stop exercising for a bit, I get horribly out of shape. One bad turn deserves another it seems.
For me, the solution seems obvious – fix the small things before they become big things. Develop habits that keep basic aspects of my life maintained and in order. Easier said than done, but worth doing.
So what are your broken windows?