How I’m Using the Habit System to Help Ingrain my Daily Habits – 15th July, 2017

PaulJuly 15, 2017

I want to share with you how I'm structuring my habit system to follow through on the habits that I'm trying to instill...

Here is what I'm currently working on:-

  1. Daily ritual - every day I take five minutes to write the answer to a number of questions. The questions currently include:- What type of person are you? Why are you doing what you do? Where do you want to be by a certain date?
  2. Writing - I'd like to be able to communicate in written form much more effectively. I'd like to be able to write compelling content that people actually enjoy reading. My minimum commitment for this habit is 50 words per day.
  3. Video - I'd like to develop the skill of creating interesting videos about personal development that people want to watch. My minimum commitment for this is to record myself for 30 seconds every day (publishing to my channel is not a requirement, but preferable).
  4. Reading - I have a target of studying 140 self development books over the next few years. I'd like to improve the speed at which I read and the amount of information that I retain. Minimum commitment is 2 pages per day
  5. Gym - 3 times per week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Would like to work my way up to 5o0lbs deadlift, 400lbs squat and 300lbs bench (current pb's are 473/400/286 respectively, but I'm currently weaker than this). Minimum commitment is at least one working set for each training session.

I'm still playing with parts of my habit system to work out the best setup for minimum ego depletion.  

As an example, on days where I'm scheduled to work out, I've started to go to the gym first thing in the morning rather than in the evening as the last activity.  

Why?

I noticed that, in the evening, it was a bit of a strain to make myself go.  Switching this to first thing in the morning makes it much easier for me to follow through without resorting to using so much willpower.

My Current Habit System

  • I have triggers and rewards for each of my activities.  The whole list of habits can take anything from an hour to the whole day, depending on how much I decide to do for each habit.
    • ​On Mornings that I work out, I'll wake up and head straight to the gym.  My reward for finishing is a tasty protein milkshake.
    • As soon as I arrive at the office I do my daily ritual and reading.  My reward is a cappuccino
    • Once I've finished my coffee I'll write something for this site with a reward of lunch, a walk or a half an hour of billiards depending on my mood and the time
    • Once I'm back I'll start my daily work.  My reward for completing this is to motorbike back home for 20 minutes to where I'm living
    • When I arrive at home I'll shoot my video.  The reward is both a cup of tea and the satisfaction that comes from seeing a new video on my channel (for some reason I quite enjoy this).  I'll also move a paperclip to my momentum glass (see this post for more details about the paperclip strategy).
  • My environment is as streamlined as possible
    • My gym bag and clothes are always ready to go when I need to hit the gym.  I can just pick it up and go.
    • The gym is only about 5 minutes by motorbike from where I live
    • I'm lucky enough to have found a really beautiful co-working space - the best one I've ever worked at.  

      It's a pleasure to work in an environment with nature, great coffee on demand, dogs and cats running around (I love animals) and a whole bunch of like minded people.

      I'm much more focused in an environment such as this, rather than simply working from home or a normal office.  I've found that the separation between work and free time is really important for me.
    • I have invested in ear plugs for when I need silence to focus
    • I leave my phone in my motorbike outside the office (I don't bring it to work with me) to remove the possibility of chat distractions
    • I have a script on my laptop desktop that shuts down all communication applications at the click of a button - I use this first thing in the morning when focusing on my reading and daily ritual writing
    • I live in an area that's close to really healthy restaurants with lots of organic fruit and vegetables - it's pretty hard for me to eat unhealthily around here.  
    • I have melatonin tables beside that I can use on occasions where I'm struggling to sleep.  I also have a nasal decongestant next to it for times when I am finding it difficult to breathe (sometimes I have nasal congestion - I have to have an operation to sort this).
    • I have set up a video recording studio at home so I can record at any point just at the click of a button - no extra setup required.
    • My kindle is set up for one click book delivery.  No need to carry lots of books and efficient ordering process.
  • I have specified very clear minimum commitments for each of my habits.  Don't forget, minimum commitments are designed to provide flexibility and beat resistance - I very rarely only just do this amount.
    • Daily ritual - this is small enough that it only takes 5 minutes and it's pretty well ingrained at this point (at the time of writing I have 318 copies of my daily ritual) so no minimum commitment required.
    • Reading - 2 pages per day
    • Writing - 50 words
    • Video - 30 seconds in front of the camera, even if it's just nonsense, and no requirement to upload to my channel if I don't like it.
    • Gym - drive to the gym and do just one hard set of exercise to failure (this would take 60 seconds to complete)
    • Daily work - read items on my wonderlist, check emails and answer any Slack messages that have been fired my way.
  • I have a few sneaky little traps set up to make sure I follow through
    • Relentless video club - this is a small group that I setup for video creators.  We hold each other accountable for producing at least one video per week.  This added social pressure helps me make sure I don't slack off with my videos.  

      To top this off, I have a $100 bet with one of the members.  Whoever fails to keep the schedule owes money to the other guy.  This gets my competitive spirit going..
    • My Habit log page!  I'm transparently publishing to the whole world whether I stick to my habit schedule or not.  And, I'm publishing this on a site that talks a lot about how to build habits!  Added social pressure right there.
    • I'm currently looking at accountability apps that will check the location of my mobile to ensure that I hit the gym.  Once I've figured this out, I'll be publishing a post about it.
  • I track my achievements on a daily basis in a variety of ways
    • I have a calendar up on my wall where I put a big tick across every day that I succeed to stick to my habits
    • I am following the paperclip strategy for my videos - so each time I produce a video I move a paperclip form the full glass to the momentum glass.  When the paperclip store is depleted, I'll have a small celebration.
    • I record everything in my habit log spreadsheet and my habit log page. These both contain a column for momentum, so I can see how long I've managed to keep the string of daily habits going for.  This can be both very motivating but also make me very reluctant to break the chain!
  • Planning for enjoyment and downtime - this is very important for me because I know myself well enough that if I don't have enough flexibility built into this plan, then I'll fail.
    • Weekends I really try to only work until midday and then spend the rest of the day doing sporting activities or something else that I enjoy.
    • During the week I aim to have everything done by 1800 so that I have at least a few hours of free time to do things that I enjoy.  I try to disengage from what I'm working on and will only respond to urgent things.

To be finished.  Still need to write about:-

  • Core habits
  • Delegating non core stuff that depletes my willpower​

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