Anchoring habits

New Year Day can bring with it a sense of excitement and opportunity – a whole new year! During this time I often get reflective and check in to see if what I’m doing is what I really want to be doing. Whilst I’ve never been great at making and keeping New Years Resolutions, I am doing ok at setting new habits for myself and sticking to them. In the lead up to January 1st, 2015, I reread a lot of the sources I’d read when I was initially trying to learn more about habit setting. My original post actually covers most of them off well.

One thing I had under appreciated, though, was the importance of anchoring the tiny habits you pursue to an existing habit you already maintain. I never really did this before. I’d set up a habit calendar and then set about checking that off each day. The problem was that I when I abandoned the habit calendar, thinking the things I was doing were habits by now, I fell off the metaphorical horse. I’m guessing this happened because the habit calendar was actually serving as a reminder, rather than a way to reset my behaviour.

The idea with anchoring your habits is to find something you do in your day, everyday, and then anchor one of your new habits to that. In this great video, BJ Fogg talks about how he started doing push-ups after going to the toilet, as an example.

So,this year, I have three habits I’m trying to include in my daily life. Waking early, Blogging and Journalling.

Waking early

This one is tough, because it itself is an anchor. At some point each day, I wake up. This great post from Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has helped me think through this one. I’m going to try to build a habit of making a coffee and enjoying that each morning when I wake up. For the next couple of weeks, I’ll aim to get up at 7am to establish a baseline. Luckily, Edith tends to wake me up around that time anyway, but I’ll use making a coffee as a reward for being up and to keep me from going back to bed. I’ll then try to ratchet down the time I awaken every few weeks by a tiny amount.

I don’t have a target time just yet, but something earlier than 6am would be pretty amazing. I want to be one of those people that enjoy the early morning stillness. I love it, when I’m actually awake. This is also a powerful new anchor I can attach things to in time. Early morning Yoga, or meditation, is hard to do if you never see the early morning.

Blogging

Blogging again ranks highly on the motivation axis curve of BJ Fogg Behaviour Model. It takes effort and energy to do. It’s not tiny. But I’m going to try and anchor it to lunch. I will eat lunch most days, and it’s often something I have a little time afterwards due to most things being scheduled between 8-11am and 2-5pm by most people. So I’m going to give that a bash. I shared yesterday what I’ll focus on blogging about, which is also going to help me here.

Journalling

I’ve never kept a journal. But after reading this great paper on conscious leadership that Ron shared with me a while ago and chatting more about it I realised I really needed a private outlet to express a lot of my thoughts and feelings. I’ve actually already started this one and have been writing a journal, by hand, each night before bed. It’s very visual and I mostly just recount the moments of each day that stand out to me. This one is so easy, I believe, because the anchor is so good. Journalling before bed is easy, takes about one minute, and just happens because the journal is kept on my bedside table.

I’ll keep exploring the anchoring of my new habits throughout the year and share my progress with you. I think there will be a couple of other tiny habits I add to this list in time, but for now these are three pretty big ones. We’ll see how I go.

Blogging in 2015: Mindfulness, Technology and Org Culture

It’s 2015! This year, I’m going to look to post again regularly here on the blog. If you’re keen to do the same, or perhaps have made a resolution to ‘blog more’ in 2015, then this great Blogging 101 class being run by The Daily Post may be right up your alley. I’m going to do it and am already looking forward to it. It starts on Monday the 5th.

However, this time I’m going to do something a little different. I’d like to share today that I’m going to focus more of my writing on particular areas. I’ve even Skitch’ed up a little Venn Diagram to outline my thoughts so far.

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Last year, I thought a lot about the idea of the craftsman – a person so deeply engaged in what they’re passionate about that their work product just flows. It caused me to reflect on my ‘craft.’ Needless to say, I’m still exploring what that is. Perhaps I always will. But for now, I’m focusing a lot of my energy on these three topics. So it makes sense to start writing and sharing more about them here.

Mindfulness

I’ve been writing about this for a while, and my take on this topic will often bounce around a variety of different topics. Yesterday’s post, whilst not explicitly about it, touched on a lot of aspects of how I think about Mindfulness and my continued attempts to be more mindful. Expect topics like meditation, GTD and habit building.

Org(anisational) Culture

I’m fascinated by this topic and have mostly pursued it in different guises through my career so far. I love talking and thinking about how people, teams and whole organisations can become more responsive to their staff, partners and customers by being more connected. More engaged and aware. The old saying ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ resonates a lot with me and I want to keep learning about it here. Expect topics like Holacracy, Integral Theory, holding better meetings, remote work, coworking and the ideas of The Responsive Org.

Technology

I’ve now been playing with social technologies, mostly, for about 7-9 years and a lot has changed in that time. I love being in the ‘tech’ industry and the pace in which it changes. I’ve especially loved being first at Yammer and now at Microsoft in that time, which has given me the chance to directly work with our customers to help them understand how technology is fast becoming the best way to affect an organisations culture and its people’s mindfulness. Expect things here about the industry in general, startups and how cloud, mobile and social networking continue to change how we live our lives.

So, welcome to 2015! I’d love to know what you’d like to hear me write about. If you have any topics or ideas for me please send me a message on CoTap.Me/stevehopkins or on Twitter.

Movement is the essence of life

I’ve been inspired recently by running, particularly runners that take off through the woods and trails and run for hours. They seem connected and plugged in to the earth somehow. I’m not a runner, but their endeavours inspire me on a whole number of levels.

I’d like to share this great video, Why We Run, which is one of a number of other great videos in that series. They really strikes at the heart of many themes I’ve been ruminating about lately. I’ve done my best to pick out some quotes from the video to share what I love, but do watch it yourself. Happy New Year and welcome to 2015.

…unadorned, simple, direct and it didn’t feel like a game

I love this one. We’re so competitive in most things we do. So much so, we don’t realize how much this thread runs through our lives. We compete in everything we do. I love the idea of just doing things because they are pure. They’re simple and fulfill a natural need for us as humans.

…it appealed to me, because I could do it in my time. I could always run

Running, for Bernd Heinrich, was something he could do at anytime. But those watching the video will notice that he’s crafted his life around his running. He lives in a small cabin in the woods, for goodness sake! So he can do it anytime because that’s the core of how he lives. Ultimately, we can all do this. I find that such a powerful idea.

I appreciate it more and more because I realized how special it is

I think he’s referring to his study of insects here but at easy to see the parallels between that and his running. Similarly, this really sings out to me that you’re being pulled in the right direction by the things you’re pursuing. The things that we feel most strongly about tend to resonate through our lives. We’re lucky if we hear it clearly – certainly something I’ll be trying to tune into more this year.

How to do a weekly review

I’ve written before about the challenge of Getting Things Done. I’m often writing about it, because I’m often trying to get better at it! Those of you that have read, or tried to read, David Allen‘s book will know the feeling that comes when your mind begins working too hard to keep track of the things you’ve agreed to do.

This year, I want to get better at being mindful, and an important part of that is feeling like I’ve implemented the GTD system better. I’d say I’m pretty good at getting to Inbox 0, and generally processing things but I’m not great at delegating or renegotiating things that find their way onto my list and keeping them current. After a time, I stop trusting the lists because they cease representing an accurate and current account of what I need to do.

Weekly Review

So, it’s with this in mind that I sat down today to figure out some simple questions I can ask myself every week to better keep my system up to scratch. Essentially, how to do a weekly review.

Here’s what I’ll be trying tomorrow for the first time:

1) Gather

Gather everything from your inboxes (email(s), calendar, yammer, letters). Put them where they belong in your the relevant lists.

2) Be Clear

Am I clear about what’s happening this week? What have I previously agreed to make happen this week? What’s in my calendar? Is everything ready for those events?

3) Clean

Is my system clean? Am I stuck with anything that I’m not sure where to put?

4) Current

Is my next action list current? Is there anything on this list that is old or needs renegotiating?

5) Complete

Is it complete? Is there anything that’s not in the system that should be?

I’ve never nailed the weekly review, so will see if this helps me at all. How do you do your weekly review? Anything I’ve missed?

Remembering to declutter

I read this great post from Zen Habits a couple of weeks ago and it’s continued to resonate strongly for me since. It’s about how to have zero clutter in your life. In it, Leo walks you through how to declutter things simply. It’s all obvious stuff, but has served as a constant reminder for me these past couple of weeks as I’ve gotten back into work.

My favourite thing I’ve done so far to declutter is to clear the desktop of my laptop of all the random files that find their way there over time, and change the wallpaper. Funny how simply doing that has really made a difference.

Enjoy the article.