Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Know Your Daily Patterns

We all have patterns and routines within our day. These patterns can be effective and productive or they can squander our time.

Many people have beginning of the day routines, after meal routines and end of day routines. Within our work life we also have beginnings and endings.We can also have before we turn on the computer, while it shuts down and right after using the computer.Knowing these available transition times, can be helpful in developing good patterns.

First take some time to look at the patterns that are working. Let's call these the Your Effective Transition Times. These are often well entrenched and serve us well. For instance every night before I go to bed, I set up my coffee maker to run. My current model does not have a timer, but when I press the button, this gives me time to unload the dishwasher which I run in the evening. I have been following this pattern for over 20 years and it works well for me. Recently I have also added in taking my vitamins and drinking 6 ounces of water before I drink my coffee.  These are tiny habit* patterns I am currently working on. They are not firmly entrenched into my life, but I have begun. It will take a while for it to become routine, but when linked with other routines I have found better success.  

Next look at potential transition times you are not using. These we will call Your Potential Transition Times. For instance I don't have any habits placed in my after computer or while my computer shuts down. These are two times I can add in some productive habits. To get a habit established, find the "natural breaks" to make it more effective.

Think about these available times when you want to make a productive change in your life. Can you use these Potential Transition Times or add to your most Effective Transition Times (the ones already in use). As a cautionary measure do not overload your effective transition times. I suggest having no more that 6 items in your "habit string".

Another factor to consider is your usual daily energy level to perform tasks. If you are a morning person (lark), load up in your AM routines, but lighten up in the evening. If you are a night own, by all means make your evening routines larger.

By knowing and understanding your daily patterns you will be well on your way to make transitions in your life. 

* BJ Fogg, a professor at Stamford University is working on the Tiny Habit project. Read more about it here. I would like to thank my colleague Margaret Lukens for her insight into this program.

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