Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.Mark Twain
Today I thought we’d talk about habits. I’m very interested in this topic… dating back to years ago when Dr. Oz talked about automating our meals (for instance, choosing between a couple of breakfasts) to take the brainpower out of the equation. This, of course, can apply to many different scenarios. Barack Obama didn’t want to waste energy everyday deciding what he would wear. The same color suit all the time, with shirts, ties, etc. that go with that color. Like Garanimals for adults. Done and done. In my own life, after the dog and I walk in the morning, I water the plants that aren’t connected to a drip system. It takes about 15 minutes, and is the perfect cool-down after my exercise. The plants get watered, and I don’t even have to think about working it into the schedule. It’s already there. Win-win.
Using habits helps me “sneak up on work” in a myriad of ways. How I get other chores done? I gear up my audio book, and put in my air pods, and before you know it, the dishwasher is unloaded, the counters are cleaned, the laundry is folded, and sometimes, even a closet gets organized (depending on how good the book is!).
Speaking of good books, I’ve read several about habits, the latest being Atomic Habits, by James Clear He sort of takes up where The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (great name!) leaves off. Mr. Clear’s focus is on tiny habits, stacked together over time to create sequences, while being made palatable to the user. Rewards are key, as well as setting up a framework (those sequences) for success. He goes so far as to state that willpower has nothing to do with the result. It’s all about setting up systems to get you there. I can get behind this. I’ve been experimenting with this and am really impressed with the results. Remember when I asked you about where your willpower was? Maybe it just doesn’t matter!
The reward system is great for me. I set a timer, work for 30-60 minutes, and don’t stop. I’m a whirlwind. When the timer goes off, I get to watch the latest episode of Mindhunter on Netflix. Boo-yah! I’m in the zone, and I can look around and see it.
I think, for me at least, “automating” as much as possible is key. For years I resisted this, thinking that a predictable schedule would be boring, and I have a low boredom threshold. However, when it comes to the day-in-day-out things, I’m just too lazy to think about every one, over and over again. Over time, I’ve realized I’d rather think it through, decide once how it’s going to be, and go with it. If it doesn’t work, I’ll re-think it. Liberating, no?
I’d love to hear how you guys use habits to make things easier in your lives. Please share your thoughts!
Monday on the blog, the long awaited episode… Honey, have you met my dog? Until then, my friends!