March 18, 2013, 11:00 am
One of the keys to personal behavior change is understanding what you’re actually doing. In order to understand what you’re doing, you have to track those specific behaviors or facets of your behavior that you’re interested in changing. (Benjamin Franklin is often hailed as a pioneer in this area.)
Tracking your behavior helps in two key ways: by creating awareness of your actions, which can help you further adjust them, and by giving you concrete evidence of the success or failure of your choices. Without some form of tracking, most people find it difficult to remember day to day actions with any clarity or specificity.
For example, if my goal were to eat more vegetables, tracking what I eat over a span of a few days or weeks would help me discover how many different vegetables I’m actually eating, and where I might easily make some changes. Keeping a food log has been shown to …
February 21, 2013, 8:00 am
We’ve written a lot about habits over the last few years here at ProfHacker, and the challenge that’s sometimes involved in establishing and maintaining good habits, whether they’re habits of writing, exercise, or (fill in whatever good habit you keep trying to reestablish here).
Natalie’s written about the importance of tying the habits you want to to develop to your key values, and then tracking those habits. Pen and paper work just fine, of course, as do online solutions like those Natalie mentions in her post.
Lately, though, I’ve been using a mobile application to keep track of the habits I’m trying to establish. I’ve tried two: Good Habits and Habit List. They work similarly: you enter the habits you want to track, and check them off as you do them each day. I finally settled on Habit List because it offered more flexibility, allowing me to schedule habits for such intervals …
September 13, 2012, 11:00 am
A lot of productivity advice, especially about technology, is about making things easier to do. For example, in the last few days at ProfHacker, George has asked about paperless promotion portfolios, Mark has shown us an easier Zotero workflow with Zotpad, Adeline has reviewed a geo-tagging journal, and I have written about hacking URLs for faster searches.
But recently I’m finding that I need to make some things harder on myself. It’s easy to fall into habits or routines, whether technological or otherwise, that keep you doing things that you wouldn’t choose to do if you thought about it rationally. But to get to the place where you’re making better decisions, you have to break the habit by making things harder on yourself. There is no point in having a shortcut to something that isn’t worth doing.
Here’s an example: Amazon has a patent on “1-Click” shopping. If you turn on the…