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Nick Trierweiler
Nick Trierweiler

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Today I started using a habit tracker

I have allowed some bad habits to form which are affecting my effectiveness and productivity. One of my costly time wastes is opening my phone for a task which is okay for work - reading an important email, answering a text from my girlfriend or family member - and then proceeding to unconsciously open the "reddit is fun" app. Before I know it, I've spent 30 minutes to an hour to cats and programmer jokes. sigh

Recently, I listened to an audiobook Atomic Habits by James Clear and have decided to design some habits instead of setting new goals. The writer says that this is the best way to improve and setting a habit that helps facilitate a goal is more effective than simply setting a goal. It's read in a fun way with motivational stories and examples. Let's get into it, I am fired up and ready to start making some improvements!

Here's the idea: to start a habit I need to make it...

  1. Obvious
  2. Attractive
  3. Easy
  4. Satisfying

... and to stop a habit make it...

  1. Hidden
  2. Unattractive
  3. Difficult
  4. Unsatisfying

So here's my short list for now:

Wanted habits:

  • Side hustle project work (coding 30 minutes per day) - Although this one seems like a difficult habit to start, I am already on track so I just need to maintain it.
  • Get up at 5 am every day even when I am working from home
  • Work out every day (not just when I feel like it)
  • Writing content for and my personal site

Unwanted habits:

  • Browsing reddit at work when I use my phone
  • Staying up too late
  • Hitting the snooze button
  • Staying up late in bed watching videos

I am going to use some strategies from the book here to help me.

Starting a habit:

Habit pairing and chaining: Easy habits can help facilitate harder habits if they lead into each other.

In my case, I have a hard time going to bed when it's time, so I have set a habit that I already do to help lead to this result.

  1. Useful Habit: drink some water, brush my teeth, and then floss at 9PM.

    • The important part for me on this habit is brushing my teeth right at 9.
    • This will help me to also get to bed before 9:30 PM since I most often lie down for the night after I brush my teeth already.
  2. Useful Habit: get in bed before 9:30 PM

    • Now I have set myself up for success to wake up at 5 AM since I will likely have gotten 7-7.5 hours of sleep at that point.
  3. Useful Habit: wake up at 5 AM everyday

  • Once in bed, I can read until 10 if I choose to. A friend suggested this as a way to wind down for the night. Thanks Michael.

Getting rid of a habit:

What about that pesky reddit browsing problem?

Useless Habit #1: Browsing reddit on my phone mindlessly.
To remove the autopilot reaction, I have moved my reddit app off my home screen so I can't click it so easily. I want to disrupt the behavior by making it a bit less convenient so I have to think about it.
If this doesn't work, I have to go stand outside to browse reddit. I have used this one before to quit vaping and it worked well for me. It's a subtle reminder that what I am doing is something that I should be doing less, or not at all.

Seriously, make these easy and start slow

The book says this many times in different ways. Start with just one or a few habits that you want to build, and then get those going before taking on new things. The book calls habits compound interest and reminds the reader that a 1% improvement per day is over 300% improvement by the end of the year. I have created 4 habits, but two of them will work together synergistically. For me, this counts as two habits total: one I want to start, and one I want to stop.

How to track this?

Check out The Ultimate Habit Tracker Guide: Why and How to Track Your Habits on the author's website if you want to learn more before buying the audiobook.

Thanks for reading!

Nick Trierweiler

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