One of the most inspiring messages I ever got from a book came from Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. In there, she talks about how there are successful tasks that you accomplish regularly in life. You have some strengths. And she suggests that if you examine your strong points, your strengths, you can find ideas for applying those strengths to your weakness, or more properly, to the habits you’d like to strengthen. For example, if you never forget to put on deodorant but you always forget your vitamins, consider putting your vitamins in front of your deodorant. When you reach for your deodorant, your vitamins are right there so that they’re an easy habit to improve.
I use this technique all the time. I look for habits I want to build, and I try to pair them with habits I already have. I want to do more knee stretches. I have a paired habit now when I walk to my office in the morning. I walk past the same bike rack with a railing every day. Now my habit is to stop at the railing, stretch my knees and hamstrings, my calves and ankles, and even my lower back and hips. That single paired habit (walk past railing = do stretches) has become probably about 80-90% successful in my weekly trek from parking to my office.
I also adore paper planners. I love stationery and colored pens, etc. But I realized I didn’t have a regular habit of logging things in paper, nor always having the energy to lug a planner with me everywhere I go. I do however always have my phone with me. I finally weaned myself off the novelty of trying to log everything on paper and enforcing that everything should be accessible in my phone (which makes it accessible to any computer). Now I have a very detailed electronic set of habits using Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Keep, and Evernote,
I added a new habit recently. Small tiny things I would promise to do would slip my mind. “I’ll work on that soon as I get to the office,” I might quip in Facebook Messenger to someone. Or while chatting with a friend, we’d say, “Let’s have dinner next month!” Of course I forgot these more often than not. That is, until I noticed that I *hate* to let a Phone Notification get swiped away if I hadn’t done the task in my reminder. So I started logging these quick tasks into my Google Calendar as a Reminder that would push a Notification to my phone (on a specific day and time). Now, I have to do the Task to mark it “Done,” or I have to reschedule it for when I have more time to focus my attention on the task.
I found my strength. I will obey a Notification Reminder or I will reschedule it for when I have the time to complete the task. It’s amazing how many tasks I’m getting done more frequently now, simply because I scheduled them on my Calendar. I’m starting to see this whole topic as a potential theme word for next year. Still pondering, but it’s taking some shape.