Read-to-action: Atomic Habits

I’ve heard about this book a lot since two years ago. I didn’t pick it up because it’s too popular and the name reads like just another bestsellers…. until last week. I found it so logical and down-to-earth. As I agree on a good deal of “why” & “how-to” mentioned, I decide to put some of the suggestion into practice. Hopefully, with some time, I can 1) build good habits and avoid the bad ones 2) let a book change my life (more o r less).

The book introduced 4 laws to create a good habit / break a bad habit. I’m going to slot my case in.

The 1st Law: Make it obvious

  • Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them
  • Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”
  • Use habit stacking: “After I [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
  • Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible

I listed out all the habits I could think of on notebook. I’m surprised about suffering from bad ones on a daily basis but I have no motivation to address them. I’m glad that I take the first step and then realize some of them are quite easy to fix. As an example, every morning after washing face I’ll put on the elusion, wait for them to be absorbed and then put on sunscreen. Therefore I usually forget to come back. I plan to solve it by washing face before brushing teeth, leaving sometime for my skin to get dry.

Other examples of my score card (+ means it’s good and – means bad)

  • Get up:
    • + Alarm at 6am, get up before 6:30
    • – After 6:30
  • Breakfast:
    • + Have these
      • 2 eggs + nuts + 1 apple a day OR
      • granola + milk
    • – Have some snacks e.g. candy / jelly

Other than the current habits, I want to develop workout & night read as of now. Utilizing the habit staking

  • After arrive home, I’ll change into gym suits
  • After coming back from gym, I’ll do shoulder practice (to recover from injury)
  • After shoulder practice, I’ll do laundry
  • Then I’ll do one most urgent house maintenance e.g clean desk surface / change bed sheets

In order to start the first action, I’ll prepare my gym suit at the door before going work, so that I can get changed when arrive home!

The 2nd Law: Make it attractive

  • Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do
  • Join a culture where your desired behavior is normal behavior
  • Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit

The 3rd Law: Make it easy

  • Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
  • Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.
  • Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.
  • Use the Two-minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less
  • Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in the future behavior

The 4th Law: make it satisfying

  • Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit
  • Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits
  • Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain.”
  • Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately

The 2nd~4th are interrelated to each other. If it’s attractive, then it’ll be easy; to make it easier, you can make it satisfying. Since I’m not too crazy about anything… I’m not big fans of restaurants, outdoor activities are good but staying at home alone is fine…. if any, it might be earning money loll. I love the feeling of looking at an account with growing numbers. I’m not too rich, not too poor. Right now I don’t limit my spending. While I enjoy the freedom of purchasing, it creates a sense of wasting money which bothers me. I figure

  • I want to spend without guilty
  • I have the desire for goods e.g. phone / laptop
  • I want to save money for traveling
  • I have the willing to save unnecessary spend

The problem is invisibility. So I plan to make cost & earnings visible. This is what I will do

  • Set up a tight “daily consumption” amount (less than I spend in the past months)
  • Create a dedicated bank account for Bonus
  • By the end of month, if the “extra savings” balance is not earned to Bonus, they’ll be moved to my savings account and I can’t get them back 😖.

Bonus can be used for

  • Everyday usage
  • iPhone
  • Travel plan
  • Literally anything as it is an award 😀

How to earn Bonus:

  • HKD10 each:
    • No social media (responding message is okay) when when commuting
  • HKD30 each:
    • Workout
    • No falling asleep during 2h reading + no snacks
    • Night read
    • Sleep on time (sharp 10pm on weekday, 11pm on weekends)
  • HKD200 each:
    • Drink less than once per week
    • Eat chips less than once per week
  • Daily Consumptions balance by month end

I’ll set up a tracker and top up money to the bonus account upon achievement.

There’re also laws of how to break bad habits

Make it invisible

  • Reduce exposure. Remove the cues of your bad habits from your environment.

Make it unattractive

  • Reframe your mind-set. Highlight the benefits of avoiding your bad habits.

Make it difficult

  • Increase friction. Increase the number of steps between you and your bad habits.
  • Use a commitment device. Restrict your future choices to the ones that benefit you.

Make it unsatisfying

  • Get an accountability partner. Ask someone to watch your behavior.
  • Create a habit contract. Make the costs of your bad habits public and painful.

Everyday, I’ll spend more than an hour on commuting. I wish to use this time listen to audio lessons or Podcasts. But most of the time I can’t help scrolling on my phone and my brain ignores the lessons. I plan to uninstall these social media apps every Sunday night as a friction to use phone.

At the end of this journal, I’ll start a 2-week experiment tomorrow. Applying laws mentioned above which seems to be a good fit for me. The schedule seems ideal but it’s practical too (with the earning strategy in place haha).

I’m very excited to see changes! Hope it’ll work!

Now I’m going to grab a beer to celebrate and welcome the week.

Cheers 🍻

First week tracker (Sep 5, 2022)

On the first two days I didn’t sleep well, but later weekdays are awesome especially Thu & Fri. I was energetic because of enough sleep and work out. I feel blessed because of earning small money everyday loll. It’s incredible to sense the progress everyday!

The second week comes more smoothly. I made a bit more pocket money lolll. Everything could be done quicker, and the schedule doesn’t feel packed. There’s more than enough breaks between each event. 3 most noticeable changes:

  1. Gooood sleep. In fact I sleep better on weekdays than weekends(I shut down morning alarm and skip night reading). Switching schedule is painful – when I sleep late on weekends and have to wake up early on Mon, it kills me. But as long as your body fills into the healthy schedule, damn… every night is a solid 8-hour sleep! I start to think keep the practice even on weekends.
  2. Energetic. Because of starting workout, I eat more (protein and carb but less junk) and feel my body stronger 💪🏻
  3. Drastic screen time cut. I can only get the screen time analysis this week from Wed because I upgraded my phone to iOS 16. Before, every weekday it was around 3 hours. I don’t know what I browsed during this amount of time… But I feel more aware of real life and calm. Not using social media apps isn’t that big a deal. Again weekends are worse… Let me think about optimizing my weekends too

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