Atomic Habits, What Habits Will I Build?
As I read Atomic Habits I thought to myself let’s try out some of the habit formation processes on myself. It will be fun to be a little science experiment. There are a few habits I would like to form and Atomic Habits provides me with the perfect framework to experiment. Just before I started writing this article I came across a passage on motion vs action.
“When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.” (from “Atomic Habits” by James Clear)
I have always loved reading, I associate it with learning and escapism and have formed the habit to read essentially everyday. I also love writing, although I never seem to get around to it as much as I’d like. However as I read the above passage I thought to myself, if I am waiting for something call out to me to start my habit formation process, this is it. So here I am. Commencing what is my first step to forming my habit of writing (among others). I am sure there will be many missteps but it is time for the action to commence.
The Habits I’d Like To Form
This is a WIP but there are four new habits I’d like to form:
- Write for 2 hours every week
- 2 hours a week of active learning
- Ask everyone how their day was and actually listen to their response
- Have 1 hour daily of no phone, Slack or emails
Why I am Forming Them
Naturally for everyone there are things we think we could do better or know we should do but just don’t. The above 4 points represent a gap between how I’d like to be and how I actually am. Points 1 & 2 align with my desire to learn more and see myself as a writer. Points 3 & 4 align with my desire to become more present especially with my family.
How I will Form Them
In my head habits 1 & 2 are grouped together as I believe I can relatively easily achieve both by applying an implementation intention: “When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.” More specifically at A time in B place I will do C. So I will use my calendar (good old Google Calendar) to schedule this into my week at times that I think will work well (i.e. undisturbed time).
It was actually quite hard to find time in my calendar …. already I was making excuses and considering things that usually occur then. Regardless I have landed on these times to implement my habits.
- Writing Block 1: Sundays 4.30–5.30pm
- Writing Block 2: Tuesday 8–9pm (or straight after dinner)
- Learning Block 1: Monday 7.30–8.30pm (or straight after dinner)
- Learning Block 2: Saturday 3–4pm
After my weekday reading and learning blocks I will reward myself with dessert. No learning // writing, no dessert. This will make completing my learning or writing more appealing and leading me to eventually associate writing and learning with the reward of dessert.
Meanwhile for habits 3 & 4 I will try habit stacking.
“Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit. ■ The habit stacking formula is: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]” (from “Atomic Habits” by James Clear)
Here we use things that work like clockwork to trigger the formation of our next habit. I am going to do a little cheat and habit stack 1 & 2 together (use the fact I cannot go on my phone to be present when I ask my family how their day was). At the end of every workday we now send a ‘Daily Pulse’ reflecting on how our day was and what we did. I will use this as my cue, \after sending my daily update I will:
- Start my 1 hour of no slack, phone or email time
- Ask my family how their day was
I am looking forward to seeing how these habits go. I will keep you updated (if you see more articles from me on Medium I am on the right track 😏)
Until next time,
PS next few pieces will likely be more about habit formation