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Managing Email Effectively

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Looking for immediate satisfaction

We are more likely to repeat a behaviour when the experience is satisfying.

The consequences of bad habits are delayed while the rewards are immediate. With good habits, it is the reverse: the immediate outcome is unenjoyable, but the ultimate outcome feels good.


466 reads


Get your reps in

Get your reps in

If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. When you're in motion, you're planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don't produce a result. You're just preparing to get something done. The most effective fo...


521 reads

Make it easy

The 3rd law (Response)



472 reads

The Goldilocks Rule

The Goldilocks Rule

Humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just manageable difficulty.

The greateast threat to success is not failure but boredom. We get bored with habits becau...


471 reads

The Two-Minute Rule

The Two-Minute Rule

"When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do."

Instead of trying to engineer a perfect habit from the start, do the easy thing on a more consistent basis.

The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely it become...


564 reads

Get 1% better every day

Get 1% better every day

It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that a massive success requires massive action.

We often dismiss small changes because they don't seem to matter ve...


2.73K reads

Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one

You can break a habit, but you're unlikely to forget it. And that means that simply resisting temptation is an eneffective strategy.

To eliminate a bad habit, reduce exposure to the cue that causes it.

  • Leave the phone in another room.
  • De...


779 reads

James Clear

"The costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future"



546 reads

Desire is the engine that drives behaviour

Desire is the engine that drives behaviour

It is the anticipation of a reward, not the fulfillment of it, that gets us to take action. It is the craving that leads to the response.

Temptation bundling: It consists of linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

After I [HABIT I NEED]...


728 reads

Make it obvious

The 1st law (Cue)



1.05K reads

True behaviour change is identity change

True behaviour change is identity change

Behaviour that is incongruent with the self will not last. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you'll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.

The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to ma...


1.1K reads

James clear

"Can one coin make a person rich? If you give a person a pile of ten coins, you wouldn't claim that he or she is rich. But what if you add another? And another? And another? At some point, you will have to admit that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him or h...



432 reads

The Plateau of Latent Potential

The Plateau of Latent Potential

People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. But in order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to to persist long enough to break through this plateau.

If you find yourself struggling to build a good habit or break a bad one, i...


1.74K reads

Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment

A small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do.

Every habit is initiated by a cue, and we are more likely to notice cues that stand out.

  • Put the apples in a place where can be seen easily and not in the bottom of the fridg...


728 reads

The science of how habits work

The science of how habits work

The process of building a habit can be divided into four steps:

  1. Cue: it triggers your brain to initiate a behaviour. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward.
  2. Craving: it is the motivational force behind every habit. Without craving, w...


1.02K reads

Make it satisfying

The 4th law (Reward)



403 reads

The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives

We tend to adopt habits that are praised and approved of by our culture because we have a strong desire to fit in and belong to the tribe.

We tend to imitiate the habits of:

  1. The close (friends and familiy)
  2. The many (the tribe)
  3. The powerful (those with status and p...


559 reads

James clear

"Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine."



627 reads



Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing.

You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them.

The Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise to become more aware of your behaviour, by creating a list of your daily habits and categ...


1.13K reads

Reflection and Review

Reflection and Review

Mastery is the process of narrowing your focus to a tiny element of success, repeating it until you have internalized the skill, and then using a new habit to advance to the next level of performance.

Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery

Life is constantly ...


404 reads

Make it unsatisfying

Make it unsatisfying

We are less likely to repeat a bad habit if it is painful or unsatisfying.

Create a habit contract:

  • A habit contract is a verbal or written agreement in which you state your commitment to a particular habit and the punishment that will occur if you don't follow t...


369 reads

Select the right cue to kick things off

People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through. Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity.

  • Implementation intention:

I will [NEW HABIT] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]


925 reads

Make it attractive

The 2nd law (Craving)



671 reads

Law of Least Effort

We will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.

Reduce the friction associated with good behaviours:

  • Cook a healthy breakfast: clean and prepare everything the night before.
  • Exercise: set out the wor...


534 reads

Make bad habits impossible

Create a commitment device:

Is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future and increases the odds that you'll do the right thing.


  • Use smaller plates to reduce caloric intake
  • Ask to be added t...


512 reads

Play a game where the odds are in your favor

Habits are easier to perform, and more satisfying to stick with, when they align with your personality and skills.

Trial and error:

As you explore different options, there are a series of questions you can ask yourself to continually narrow in on the habits and areas that will be most...


398 reads

Forget about goals, focus on systems

Forget about goals, focus on systems

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.

  1. Goals restrict your happiness. They create a "either-or" conflict: either you achieve your goal and are successful or you fail and you are a dissappointment.
  2. The purpose of settin...


1.54K reads

Jacob riis

"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it-but all that had gone be...



1.68K reads

Living in a delayed-return environment

Living in a delayed-return environment

The human brain evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards.

Our preference for instant gratification reveals an important truth about success: because of how we are wired, most people will spend all day chasing quick hits of satisfaction. The road less traveled is the road...


379 reads

Habit Tracking

Habit Tracking

  1. Creates a visual cue that can remind you to act.
  2. Inherently motivating because you see the progress you are making and don't want to lose it.
  3. Feels satisfying whenever you record another successful instance of your habit.
  4. Provides visual proof that you are casting vot...


437 reads

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More like this

Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change

Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change

What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided.

  • Overeating is harmful in the long run but appetizing in the moment.
  • Sex - safe or not - provides pleasure right away. Disease and infection won't show up for days or weeks, even years.
  • Without bad habi...

It is not a failure to opt for immediate rewards

The label of 'failure' when people don't opt for delayed gratification is often completely misleading, such as when someone chooses immediate rewards because they don't trust the promise of a delayed reward.

Prescriptive moulds that say how people are supposed to act is unhelpful. Instead...

Chapter 2 How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)

WHY IS IT so easy to repeat bad habits and so hard to form good ones?

It often feels difficult to keep good habits going for more than a few days, even with sincere effort and the occasional burst of motivation.

Habits like exercise, meditation, journaling, and cooking are reasonable ...


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