What leads us to drop habits - How to avoid dropping habits

Reading time: 2 min

Read Tuesday 9th March 2021 by @alexturner today.

"Nothing though was spoken about what can make us vulnerable to dropping habits we had assumed had become established."

Discussion about what can make us drop habits does seem to be lacking.

Setting habits that have too large a commitment in terms of time and effort is one. Our time is limited and we can only allocate so much time to any one thing, following our immediate (or near-future) priorities.

Having too much friction could discourage us from continuing, where friction is additional effort or barrier required to actually carry out the habit.

Both of these are weaknesses that our lack of time (or rather misaligned priorities) can exploit.

Writing my daily notes/journal, time tracking, mood tracking and writing for this blog are established habits of mine. Yet, I lapse on them if I spent too much time on other, more important or urgent tasks and events that day.

My compromise for this is that I allow myself to catch up within 24 hours of the end of the past day.

To minimise these lapses or avoid dropping habits entirely, we should:

Minimise the effort required to commit to the habit.

Instead of 'write a full page' as the requirement, we could set it to 'write one sentence'. That makes it easy to get started and decreases the required time and effort commitment.

Decrease the friction to doing the habit.

For example, with writing in Standard Notes (my daily notes/journal and this blog), I make sure it is extremely easy for me to access it. It's on all of my devices, in the main screen or in the menu bar, keeping it open so that I can easily record any thoughts on the fly, as I'm working (or consuming entertainment). No friction (additional 'preparation' time) is required for me to work on my writing habits.

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