The most difficult part of creating new habits is actually making them a habit. In the past few days I’ve gotten off my more efficient lifestyle and it’s translated into a loss of productivity and even a lowering of my mood. I’ve still gone to the bookshop and I’ve still gone into lab (and even made some important steps on my project) but I could have done a lot more with little effort.
I actually learned this in two ways because on top of the abstract front of making things a habit I have a cup that I use to drink chocolate milk and orange juice out of. If I’m doing well with returning the cup to its place and rinsing it out, then the next time I’d like a drink it’s very easy to get the drink and pour it out. On the other hand if I’m feeling lazy and just leave it around, I mess up my room which stresses me out and next time I want to get a drink I have to spend time cleaning it out. All-in-all the short-term gain is not worth the extra hassle, so it’s better off if I just return the cup everytime. But while I can see very tangibly the result of not following my cup habit longer term goals that could take weeks or months to see positive or negative results are difficult to track and thus very difficult to actually do consistently. The loss of time or failure as a result of lack of preparation can be exponentially more severe, however, so it’s all the more vital to stay on track with the bigger things that are harder to keep on top of. I suppose that’s understandable enough.
Hopefully in the next few days you’ll see me get my efficiency back and life will be good again.
As of late I’ve been trying my darndest to develop good habits and improve my discipline. This has been a Herculean task for me over the last four years and my failure to adhere to a good work ethic has nearly caused my mental and academic collapse multiple times.
I’ve come to realize though that part of the problem is my own nature – I’m forgetful! I forget almost anything and the trouble only compounds when I have a lot of things to remember. I’ve forgotten things as large as events I have to run to little things like e-mails I have to respond to… and they all add up to create catastrophe.
HOWEVER in my quest to reign it all in and deliver myself from stagnancy I have stumbled upon a system that works! And I’m going to share it with you, for a low low price of… just kidding. Here it is in one step:
1. Maintain a to-do list.
This entails writing down things to do, and making sure you look at it and cross things off.
Here’s the explanation: For everything you want to do, just write it down on the list. Don’t try to keep it all in your head. Write it down and make sure to look at the list. That’s where I always had trouble. I’d make a list but I’d forget to look at it. But remembering to look at a list is one thing versus remembering to do everything I need to do. Deciding to focus solely on that has improved my ability to actually get things done. On top of that as I’ve continued to keep up the habit of keeping a to-do list I’m actually remembering more things thanks to a combination of remembering to add things to the list and the actual process of adding to the list.
Furthermore, remembering the list helps build other habits because whenever there are things I want to do repetitively I just put it on the list every day. And with that habit those things become habits as well.
Funny, I think, but scarily efficient.
Here’s how I do it: I have a Motorola Droid (which I like to take pictures with when I notice something interesting, like this or this) and I downloaded Mobisle Notes, a free app that creates simple but effective To-Do lists. Since I have my phone with me most of the day, whenever I think of something I simply whip out my phone and add it! That way I don’t have to deal with the phenomenon where I think of something but then a two minutes later don’t remember what I thought of. And I get to be productive!