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How to Make Your Future Habits Easy

Ideas to prime your environment

  • To draw more: Put your pencils, pens, notebooks, and drawing tools on top of your desk, within easy reach.
  • To exercise more: Set out your workout clothes, shoes, gym bag, and water bottle ahead of time.
  • To improve your diet: Chop up a ton of fruits and vegetables on weekends and pack them in containers, so you have easy access to healthy, ready-to-eat options during the week.

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How to Make Your Future Habits Easy

How to Make Your Future Habits Easy

https://jamesclear.com/reset-the-room

jamesclear.com

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Key Ideas

Priming the Environment

Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make the next action easy. This is one of the most practical and simple ways to improve your habits.

Ideas to prime your environment

  • To draw more: Put your pencils, pens, notebooks, and drawing tools on top of your desk, within easy reach.
  • To exercise more: Set out your workout clothes, shoes, gym bag, and water bottle ahead of time.
  • To improve your diet: Chop up a ton of fruits and vegetables on weekends and pack them in containers, so you have easy access to healthy, ready-to-eat options during the week.

Make bad behaviors difficult

If you watch too much television, unplug it after each use. Only plug it back in if you can say out loud the name of the show you want to watch. (Which prevents you from turning on Netflix and “just finding something” to watch.) This setup creates just enough friction to prevent mindless viewing.

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Pointing and calling our habits

Pointing-and-calling is so effective because it raises the level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level. 

The more automatic a behavior becomes, the less...

The Habits Scorecard

... for discovering which habits to change:

  • Make a list of your daily habits.
  • Decide which is a good habit, a bad habit, or a neutral habit, by how they will benefit you in the long run.
  • There is no need to change anything at first, simply acknowledge what is actually going on.
Change and awareness

Changing a behavior always starts with awareness. 

Focus on recognizing your habits and acknowledge the cues that trigger them, which makes it easier to discover which habits you should change and respond in a way that benefits you

Habit tracking

Is a simple and effective thing to do if you want to stick with a habit for good. No matter the format (calendar, journal, app), it provides immediate evidence whether you are making progress or...

The power of habit tracking:
  1. It creates a visual cue that can remind you to act.
  2. It is motivating to see the progress you are making. You don't want to break your streak.
  3. It feels satisfying to record your success in the moment.
To make habit tracking easier:
  1. Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habits
  2. Record each measurement immediately after the habit occurs

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The Habit Loop
The Habit Loop

The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue.

Together, these fo...

5 primary ways that a new habit can be triggered
  • Cue 1: Time - Most common way to trigger a new habit
  • Cue 2: Location - Most powerful driver of mindless habits and also the least recognized
  • Cue 3: Preceding Event - Many habits are a response to something else that happens in your life
  • Cue 4: Emotional State - emotional state is a common cue for bad habits
  • Cue 5: Other People - people you surround yourself with can play a role in your habits and behaviors.
Default choices
Default choices

90% of your daily decisions happen automatically, many shaped by your environment. Thus, most decisions are a habit, not a deliberate choice.

To make smarter choices, design smarter...

Designing your life

Design your life like a choice architect:

  • Encourage smarter decisions you want to do by making them more accessible.
  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.
Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler

“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.” 

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Activation energy

Every habit or behavior has an activation energy. The more difficult or complex a behavior, the higher the activation energy required to start it. The smaller the habit, the less energy you...

Smaller habits are more sustainable

Big goals often require big activation energies. And you get stuck dreaming about life-changing outcomes, instead of taking action. 

Stick with smaller habits. They require smaller activation energies and that makes them more sustainable. 

Environment design = catalyst for building better habits

Environments where we live and work influence our behaviors. Catalysts lower the activation energy required to start a new habit. And optimizing you environment is one way to catalyze habits: in the right environment, every habit is easier.

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