As a law-enforcement theory, it’s controversial, but whether or not it’s true on a city-wide level, I think it’s true on a personal level.
My “broken windows” are the particular signs of disorder that make me feel out of control and overwhelmed.
- Unsorted mail
- Messy stacks of newspapers
- Shoes in odd places
- Cluttered counters
- Dirty dishes scattered around the apartment (for my husband, as he often emphatically reminds me, dirty dishes left overnight are broken windows; for me, as long as the dishes make it into the sink, life feels under control)
From what I’ve observed, people’s other “broken windows” often include:
- Staying in pajamas or sweats all day
- Eating food straight from the container
- Wearing stained or ripped clothes
- Goofing off at work, even if no one notices
- Piles of laundry or trash
- An unmade bed
About the last item: surprisingly, whenever I ask people what resolutions they’ve tried, and that make them happier, “Make my bed” is the most common resolution that’s mentioned. It’s a very trivial thing, but it makes a big difference. (By the way, a survey by the National Sleep Foundation showed that people who make their bed are more likely to report a better night’s rest.)