“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant
I’m a creature of habit. I actually enjoy eating the same foods regularly (it took me this long to find the perfect ones!), exercising on the same trails (the exact right trails!), and wearing the same clothes (these ones make me look good!). I’m definitely a maximizer, and my friends and family find all this very amusing. I’m just grateful they put up with it.
Despite all these habits I’ve accumulated, there are still some that I would like to change. I’d like to read and write more in place of Netflix binges. I’d like to lay off the sugar. Bringing some diversity into my exercise regimen would probably be beneficial.
Enter Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. The book lays out the science behind habits and what we can do to gain our power back over them.
What I really appreciated about his book was that it made me examine how my habits work and how I might be able to change them. I started looking at the various triggers in my life that lead to certain habits and, ultimately, rewards (examples: when I get home, I immediately change into my workout clothes; when my bedtime alarm goes off, I wrap up what I’m doing to brush my teeth; when I arrive at the train station in the morning, I go get coffee – this is a terrible habit, by the way – don’t do this). Right now, I’m working on developing a daily writing habit.
To get into the groove of this new daily writing habit I’m trying to develop, I’ve started employing a habit calendar. I’ve tried a few different versions of this (Excel spreadsheets, a physical calendar on my fridge, various apps), and I have to say that these have worked the best:
- My physical agenda/daily planner where I add check boxes for each of the daily habits I’m trying to keep (writing, exercise, etc).
- Apps on my phone that I’m testing out: ToDoist (this is more like a daily checklist, but I’m really enjoying it), Productive, and Momentum.
There are other habit tracking apps, so I recommend trying them out to see what works best for you. Both Productive and Momentum have a three habit maximum for their free versions, so I use both.
I hope this helps you as much as it’s helping me in the quest to develop life-hacking habits!