Everyone has new habits they would like to integrate into their life. The problem is that adding new habits can be difficult.
One thing that makes it difficult is that it’s hard to remember to do that new thing each day when we already have so many things we already do or want to do. Another problem is that sometimes we get lazy and we do not feel like doing that task. We often tell ourselves we have other, more important, things for us to do. This keeps us from solidifying our new habit.
I detailed the development on my blog some time ago about how I manage to have solidified an at-home yoga habit through a very easy method.
More Lawptimal: Making your home yoga practice habitual
The key I found is to look for ways to reduce friction between the activities we have to do in our lives and the new things we want to do that we never find time to do. Reduce the barriers to entry of the habit each day. Make the habits you want to integrate front and center in your everyday life.
I was thinking about the book The Secret and the idea of the vision board. The Secret had this idea that you should put all of your wishes and dreams on this board that you would look at every day, and someday, you would achieve those things, so long as you thought about them every day and “attracted” them to yourself via the “law of attraction.” A lot of people would put the shiny Lambo or beachfront house on their board, but the options were only limited to what you could dream up.
Talk to most people today and they would say that the law of attraction and any wish board or whatever is nonsense.
The law of attraction as some kind of magical power in the universe is
probably definitely nonsense and not a law by any use of the word. But what is not nonsense is the power of motivation and of repeated thought and habit toward a particular goal. The Secret and many of those other woo-woo, sort of get-rich motivational books are not wrong about the power of motivation, but that is not as sexy as calling something the “law of attraction” or whatever they or the next person chooses to call what is actually ordinary motivation, dedication, and patience.
The easiest way to put your habits front and center is to put them in places you will have to go throughout the day or week.
I wrote a blog post about how I managed to start doing yoga every day because I put my yoga mat in an area I walked by each day and noticed I was frequently tempted to do a short ten or fifteen-minute session until it became habit. For writing, I use the Scrivener application and put the tile on my desktop toolbar so that I can open the application and start writing on a new topic whenever motivation strikes. Often, I write in the spur of the moment when the mood strikes. I will crank out between 200 and 1,000 words of various garbage depending on the day.
Most people don’t put their coffee maker away in the cupboard each day because they know they will use it the following day. We should treat things we try to integrate the same way. Keep running shoes by the door. Wear gym clothes to do errands. Keep your sketchpad on your desk with your pens in reach.
Another way to do this is by adding an everyday list because it flags you to the habits you are trying to form by serving as a daily reminder.
More Lawptimal: How to form new lasting habits with an everyday list
Basically, take out steps which are keeping you from engaging in activities you would like to make habitual. Even short engagement in each activity, no matter how long, helps.
Think of a sponge in water. If you dunk a sponge once under water for a couple seconds it retains some water, but if you dunk it several times over the course of the same time for shorter periods it will retain even more water. If you’ve never done this experiment try it out, or just take my word for it. Your practice in anything is the same–you hold more improvement with more repeated practice, no matter how brief, rather than one sustained “dunk.”
This is an adapted section from the productivity book I am writing on maximizing creative time and energy. The book includes numerous methods discovered through research, experimentation, and interviews to leverage technology and health for maximum productivity.